March 28, 2021
Customer Support
11 min read

Avoid Having Bad Customer Service That Break Companies

Examples of bad customer service and solutions to these problems.

Ben Bitvinskas
Co-founder, Atlasmic
It’s true that user experience and customer satisfaction are key to securing return business. If your service isn’t able to match the key expectations set out by potential customers, you won’t be able to convert them into paying ones. It’s important to eliminate mistakes and fix the areas of the customer service chain, which are lacking. Estimates say that Bad Customer Service costs businesses a whopping 50-70 billion USD each year. Care to contribute? Probably not. So, let’s look at examples of bad customer service and solutions to these problems.

Unprofessional behaviour & no empathy

Let’s start with the basics. It is fairly uncommon to see angry or unhelpful and careless customer support nowadays. However, this can happen in larger companies where the support works in a decentralized manner and where their performance and productivity aren’t measured.
So, this is usually related to the lack of supervision and care for the performance of the support staff members.
There are the key points of professional, respectful and empathic communication from the business end. They look like this:
  • Hello
  • Hi
  • Bonjour, etc.
  • So sorry to hear about your problem
  • I’m happy that you contacted us directly and we’ll try and solve this problem straight away
  • Is there anything that we can help you with?
  • Don’t worry, we’re aware of your problem and have started fixing it
  • We are looking into the problem now, and we will get back to you as soon as possible
If you tailor and work to develop your script around these three initial points, you can gradually improve the rating of your customer service and boost customer satisfaction. If you don’t – shame on you because it’s going to hurt your business!

It takes too long to wait for an agent or a response

Put business aside for a while. Focus on your personal life and experience. Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted assistance, service, help or aid and you had to wait a period of time that you considered too long? How were you feeling? Frustrated, angry, dissatisfied, hopeless would probably be the terms that best describe the wide range of emotions that a customer is feeling when he or she doesn’t get service or help in time.
This is why you have to be able to prevent putting customers on hold for long periods of time. It’s unjustifiable. It’s also probably the main issue for online businesses (growing businesses). The sad truth is, that your intentions, as a business could be very positive and very eager to help, but if you aren’t able to respond within a short time, the customer loses hope and becomes irritated, less eager to wait.
If you look at this chart, you can see that approx. 32% of customers won’t be happy to wait at all. Of course, around 60% will wait up to one minute for an answer without getting frustrated, but that means that you have only 60 seconds to have an agent respond in order to maintain high customer satisfaction.
If the average response time is under a minute, your support staff is doing a good job. If you’re facing an influx of requests at the moment, allow the customers to know that your service is unexpectedly busy. If an existing customer has to wait very long, offer incentives (discounts, bonuses, etc.) for their wait.

Forgetting that the customer is always right

Yes, your internal policies and rules are important, but the golden rule of customer service states that
the customer is always right!
Your rules have to be consistent and offer a level playing field to all clients.
However, if conditions are unfavourable or if there are any mishaps that lead to slight exploits by customers within the boundaries of the rules, you have to grant them these exploits. For example, if a human error makes a discount of 40% instead of 10%, you shouldn’t take away that discount or the privileges from the customer. Let them know that there was a mistake and that you acknowledge it.
If there were errors on your end, and the customer takes advantage without a clear aim to harm your business, don’t put your policy ahead of their needs. It sets a bad precedent. Chuck up the loss, bite the bullet and go forward.

Different qualities of service on different channels

One thing that people will definitely hate and call bad customer service is
  • The customer contacts you through one channel (for example social media)
  • You acknowledge their problem and ask them to contact you via phone or live chat
It’s understandable from your end, that you have to be compliant with data protection laws, regulations, confirm identity, etc. However, it’s something that people generally do not prefer and hate, even.
Let’s look at the chart below to understand, more in-depth, how and where people want to receive support.
The divide is clear. There isn’t a single method that people much prefer over another and it tends to be very different from one business sphere to the other. However, it seems that live chat, phone calls, in-person comms and email are the preferred ways of engaging with businesses.
In total, if you can offer customer support through these four channels, you’re able to satisfy around 80% of your clients. But, understandably, online-based and e-commerce businesses might not have a physical office which means that they have to offer high-quality service through social media, implement a chatbot or have additional means of support, available to customers. The more channels you have – the higher customer satisfaction!

Transferring from one agent to another

It’s something that might be unavoidable on your end, but you have to understand that it cannot be appreciated by a customer. They explain the situation, give in-depth analysis only for an agent to transfer them to another agent and have them explain the thing all over again. Fun? Nope.
It’s an example of bad customer service that you and your staff may find hard to understand at first. Once they get in this cycle, people begin to wonder whether the agent that they’re speaking to now, is the right person to solve their issue. Customers automatically begin to be more hesitant to openly disclose their worries and issues.
If you can try to limit transfers of customer support. Either also transfer the information which the customer also disclosed or don’t do it at all, and offer to respond directly, via another channel, with more in-depth expertise.

Blaming the customer or making them feel bad

Even if they made a mistake and caused headaches on the business end, they should never be blamed for their actions. It’s just not good service. It’s not often that such situations occur, but it does happen sometimes. Once again, you have only a lack of training, preparation and supervision of customer support staff to blame. Nothing else.
If people get incentives, bonuses, appreciation and recognition for doing a good job and representing your brand in the highest regard, they won’t insult, blame or do anything to scare the customer away.

Automating every response

Even though we understand that chatbots are cool and simplify a lot of simple customer support-related issues, they’re not the most effective solution to the problems of most customers.
Take a look at the chart below to see why.
As you can see, only the IT sector is capable to offer wholesome integration of intelligent assistants, chatbots & automated chat responses. That’s because they offer very technical products and services where problems usually have one, two or three direct and straightforward solutions. It’s an environment where automated chatbots work.
Somewhere like accounting, pharmaceuticals, sales or other areas might never be able to make a chatbot work because there are just so many things that a user can ask for. You won’t ever be able to develop an intelligent chat assistant with limited resources that could cover such a wide array of problems and solutions.
Our advice and recommendation would be to offer some basic answers as automated responses but to a limited extent. They could direct your customer to a solution in the FAQ section or explain in text. But, don’t try and build an automated assistant which will try to minimize the work, which your agents could and have to do.

Telling the customer “You can find the solution on our website”

This mistake and example of bad customer service are only bad if it’s used in the wrong circumstances. So, to begin with, don’t direct the customer to look for solutions on your website if they called you or went to your office for a face-to-face consultation.
That’s bad customer service etiquette and it shows the weaknesses of bureaucratic institutions and, we won’t be afraid to say it, enrages the customer. Think about it. You came to an office or waited on the phone line to find out a solution to your problem, and you only get an answer which offers nothing concrete. Support agents from government or budget institutions love doing this. They’re instructed to work in a way that optimizes resource expenditures but completely ignores customer satisfaction. Since government agencies usually occupy monopolized fields (e.g. taxation, healthcare, etc.) they can afford to not pay enough attention to this sphere.
But, in your case, if you do a poor job, your customer can just add to the churn rate and move to your competition.
With that being said, if a solution is available on your website, you can give links through social media or live chat. Ask them to try and fix things without closing the chat and to let you know whether the solution helped them or not. That’s an example of excellent customer service!

Not embracing the positive language

Are you familiar with Neuro-linguistic programming? It’s a pseudoscientific take on communication with other people and people groups. By embracing Neuro-linguistic programming, you can greatly impact peoples’ perception and take on certain information.
For example, if you were to put a positive spin on a bad thing or use positive words in spite of a negative scenario, the customer could get less upset, as time progresses. However, this mustn’t seem forced. Make sure you approach their issues with utmost sincerity and care. Instruct your staff and support team to use positive language (examples – below).
It’s just a bunch of neat little phrases and word tricks that help your business maintain a better reputation and reduce the abrasiveness of disappointed customers. Embrace them and add them to your script to make the most of positive language!

Ignoring feedback and suggestions

Make it optional for your customers to rate support agents. Their experiences and feedback are crucial to moving forward and improving as an organization.
Your customer support and problem-solving capabilities are in the dead-centre of your efficiency and reputation as an organization. If you are able to solve problems quickly and know what your customers expect, you can do a better job (genius, right?).
However, make sure to limit asking for feedback and suggestions into two questions (at most). If you make feedback a burden, you will just not get any feedback…


In conclusion, there are at least one or two examples and practices of bad customer service that every e-commerce business fails to recognize. Luckily, thanks to this blog article, you will be able to streamline and improve your customer support. Make sure to keep it cool & professional, don’t make them wait too long for a response and especially don’t forget to make them feel special and cared for during the support experience.
Furthermore, avoid transferring their cases to other support agents, sidestep from any claims or finger-pointing to make them feel like they’re in the wrong too. And with that, as a set of final measures – don’t over-do on chatbots, keep away from always directing them to the website, embrace the positive language and utilize the information which they can give you in the form of feedback and suggestions.
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