Categorized | Customer Care, Support EDGE

Customer Service Foundations (part 2)

In our last video blog I asked you to think of a bad customer-service experience you had. And we looked at what made it a bad experience and tied that to the two needs every customer has. Recall they have a technical need and a personal need. And chances are the reason your customer service experience was a bad one had more to do with your personal need not being met than your technical need.

I want to ask you some more questions about that experience. First, how many people did you tell about the experience? Was it a handful—Five? Ten? Twenty? More? If so, you’re not alone. As a rule people tend to be pretty vocal about a bad customer-service experience they had, and they’ll tell as many people as will listen. Some people dedicate entire websites to a bad service experience they had!

My second question is, What is now the attitude of the people who were simply told about the experience? What do you think their impression now is of the business in question? If they are somehow forced into a situation where they have use that business’s services, what do you think their attitude will be going into that business relationship?

They’re probably going to be defensive, right? After all, their personal friend just had a bad experience with that business. Their walls of defense are up, they’re actively looking for things to criticize, and they may even make a preemptive strike by being rude first.

Now let’s bring this home. Have you ever received a call from a customer who seemed to go out of their way to be rude, or unfriendly, or argumentative? You’ve never spoken with this customer before, but they seem bent on making this a bad experience for you. Well, let me suggest that person may be someone who had a previous bad experience with someone on your team, or they have a friend or coworker who had a previous bad experience with someone on your team.

Say you take a customer call and it doesn’t go well. Maybe you’re having a bad day and you get into a verbal shoving match with your customer. You end that call, you take a deep breathe, and you go on to the next call. In your mind you’re thinking “tomorrow’s a new day; I’ll get over it, the customer will get over, no permanent harm done.”

What do you think that customer is doing the moment he or she hangs up? Well, if you guessed they are now complaining about your service to anyone and everyone who will listen to them—their friends, their coworkers, their family members—then you’d be right. And if you guessed that those people will take that person’s side and begin viewing you in a negative light, then you’d be right again.

The point is, there is a snowballing effect that occurs anytime you allow a bad customer-service experience to happen. For every one bad service experience that one of your customers has with you or someone on your team, you are setting yourself up for potentially dozens of bad customer-service experiences in the future from people they know and to whom they have complained about you.

Dissatisfied customers are very vocal. Satisfied customers are vocal too, but not nearly as much. That’s why it’s relatively easy for a contact center, or a service desk, or a call center, or a help desk or a customer-support desk to get a bad reputation. It can happen virtually overnight, and when it does it takes a long time to regain your customers’ trust and turn that reputation around. It can be done, but it’s just better if you don’t let it happen in the first place.

Watch the associated video!

Well that wraps up part 2 of our three-part series on customer-service foundations. Join us next time when we’ll look at two customer-service maxims that will help you turn a potentially bad experience into a good one. Until then, be sure all your support activities are customer-focused, performance-driven, and outcomes-based.


Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is principal and lead consultant of SCInc., a learning and development consulting company. Eric has over 20 years experience in creating and executing results-oriented, outcomes-based learning and development initiatives aligned to corporate goals. He specializes in leadership development and coaching, and leading organizational culture-change initiatives around customer support and safety leadership. Eric was personally involved in the development of certification standards, performance standards, exam validation, competency models and training for the customer-support and technical-support industry, and was instrumental in the creation of the only performance-based certification in that industry.

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