5 Customer Care Cautionary Tales

5 Customer Care Cautionary Tales

Everyone has a horror story or two about customer service experiences we wish we could forget. Plenty of times you probably indulge family and friends in an occasional “kvetch” session about a crummy customer service interaction that left your loved ones somewhere between frustrated and enraged. Here are five horror stories we found shared by users on Gizmodo and across the web. 

Infuriating Agent Collision

So here’s the low down. RicemanFTW a Gizmodo reader, shared his horror story about hearing conflicting responses from American Express agents about how to remedy a mistaken slip of the finger on his iPhone that added a few zeros to the end of the intended payment amount.

After a few calls back, and a lot of frustration, he finally found the resolution he was seeking. But hearing differing company policies from different agents put this customer over the edge.

“Either way…it’s a shame that a company’s reputation can be made or broken with a single person. ”  – RicemanFTW

Easy Win: An automated self-service response could’ve ensured that RicemanFTW received the right information immediately. It would also assist agents with an easily accessible knowledgebase about how this particular issue should be handled if it needs to escalate to chat or phone.

Just Make It Easy, Not VIP

Switching from DSL to state of the art fiber-optic technology should be a breeze for such an upstanding company as AT&T. However, one customer found himself in the middle of a bureaucratic game of ring-around-the-rosie as technician after technician tried to deflect the installation issues to someone else. This ultimately left the consumer without phone, TV or internet service.  Ouch!

After two weeks of phone calls all the way up to level 3 tech support, AT&T decided to take their customer service game to a whole other level by getting one of their Vice Presidents involved.

“We got his personal phone numbers and he managed to put all the people together to finally get the damn thing working within 2 more days. We never had to call or talk to anyone but him. He came to the house himself to supervise his techs.” – GregoryJay

This is really a homerun for AT&T, for showing that they truly care about their customers. However, it wasn’t enough for the customer’s wife, who to this day hates AT&T with a passion. So unfortunately, it’s still a loss.

Easy Win: Spending two weeks on the phone with tech support having to re-tell your story over and over again is beyond exhausting. If AT&T used an automated customer service platform which kept chat/query scripts, their representatives could immediately ascertain the context of the call and the history of the customer from each point of contact. This kind of customer service automation can make a troubling situation a bit more bearable.

Hold Please, Let Me Transfer You…to Nowhere

We’ve all been there, just like chimera388 when he was dealing with the home security system ADT. After having forgotten to follow up on an important part of installing this uber safe home security system, chimera388 reached out to ADT via Live Chat, hoping to reschedule this installation.

After having great experiences with Live Chat with other companies, chimera388 was sure it’d be a breeze. So wrong. Live Chat immediately suggested he call an agent on the phone. This agent takes his personal info but can’t view his order. Department transfer. Another department transfer. Finally, an endlessly ringing phone, no answer, no voicemail, no resolution. But now chimera388 is worse off:

“I’m back to square one, except 4 more people now know enough about me to open a credit card. Great.”

Easy Win: ADT needed a personalized escalation path for chimera388. Live Chat is often the best resource to decrease escalation, but when it’s necessary your customers need a friction-less path to resolution. Agent re-directing is very tiresome, especially when it happens more than once.

Not Honoring Your Own Terms

Although it’s expected that when purchasing a newly released device, there may be long lines, in store backorders and late deliveries…companies must align customers’ expectations with reality.
One customer who purchased a Nexus 4 from T-Mobile was charged for a phone that was to be delivered instore within 3 days, his order was cancelled without an update or reimbursement. When he asked to take home one of the phones currently in stock, the rep informs him that he will not be reimbursed for the original payment for one month and must also pay for the new phone.

A phone call to T-mobile reiterates the same flawed company policy. Obviously frustrated, the customer takes to social media and within five minutes T-Mobile is on it.

“Get a reply back within a minute telling me to go into the store the next morning (since it’s about 10 PM at this point) and that there will be a phone literally with my name on the box waiting for me and they are sincerely sorry about the entire situation and everything both reps told me was not even remotely in line with policy.”

Easy Win: Instead of having to visit the store at all, the customer should’ve been able to get personalized answers from the  T-mobile website to clearly see the status of his order and T-Mobile’s terms of protocol for his product. Also,with Voice analytics, T-Mobile would be able to understand how some branches may not be upholding company policy before negative posting on social media has an impact on their brand.

Losing Perspective in the Storm

The next customer service fail came at the hand of mother nature. When a tornado ravaged a community in Alabama, Charter Cable made a gigantic faux pas. After having lost her entire neighborhood, Kelly, a single mother with three kids was told that she needed to make an immediate payment for the equipment that was damaged and lost in the Tornado.

All other utilities servicing the area were glad to suspend service to her now non-existent home, but Charter did not excuse her service and allegedly informed her of the late fees she would face if unable to recover or pay for the lost cable box.

Charter eventually released a statement that it would not charge customers for missing, destroyed or damanged equipment from the Tornado, but the damage was already done.

Easy Win: With a self-service customer engagement platform, Charter could have easily segmented queries originating from this disaster ridden area, or even the personal accounts of those in the vicinity of the storm to receive their generous policy. This would’ve saved the customers added heartache and saved the company from the embarrassment. They needed to help the right customers at the right time – their time of need.

Don’t Be a Statistic

The truth is that customer service fails can damange your brand more than you may realize. In fact, according to a study done by American Express, 60% of American consumerssaid they always share bad customer service experiences, while only 46% clained to always share good experiences with others. That means that nearly three times as many people (an average of 21 people vs. 8 people) are going to hear about it when your company messes up.

You can’t afford this kind of negative impact on your company. It’s time to explore a self-service engagement platform to keep your customers informed and happy.

Tamar Frumkin
Tamar is the Head of Inbound Marketing at Nanorep. Her passions are helping the world get better service faster and making information accessible.

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