4 reasons poor customer service happens

Customer Service

Customer service affects people deeply and has an enormous impact on customer loyalty, profitability, retention and an organisations’ reputation.

An American Express 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer Study highlighted some alarming statistics regarding how Australian consumers feel about customer service. It found:

  • 40% of Australians feel that businesses fail to meet their expectations
  • 65% of consumers have not completed a business transaction or have abandoned a purchase because of a poor service experience in the past year
  • 64% of Australian consumers will tell others of a poor experience ‘all the time’
  • 34% will vent their frustration using social media because of a bad customer experience

When things go wrong in customer service, people are often blamed, but are people really to blame for poor customer service? Does anyone ever really turn up to work to deliver bad service? In my fifteen years of customer service consulting, I have observed four key reasons why people deliver poor service:

1. Lack of training

A recent Genesys global survey highlighted that when thinking of their most satisfying experience, consumers said competent service representatives played the largest role. This highlights how critical ongoing training and coaching is if team members are to create exceptional service experiences.

2. Poor leadership

Leadership has the most significant influence on building a customer-focussed organisation and culture. Leaders can either inspire and enable or inhibit great service. The most successful service organisations have a customer-focussed CEO, executive and leadership team in place.

3. Blocks and barriers

Other factors that negatively impact customer service delivery include:

  • An unclear, non-existent or uncommunicated customer service strategy
  • Lack of or no customer service standards
  • Lack of understanding customers’ needs
  • Poor processes and procedures
  • Meagre internal service
  • Inadequate technology
4. Team members don’t care

Having worked with thousands of service professionals, the least common reason I hear is that people don’t care. If this genuinely is the case, recruitment is usually to blame.

Dealing with customers requires a high degree of skill, knowledge and competence. Someone who doesn’t want a customer service role negatively impacts on both the customer experience and the rest of the team.

The true cost of poor customer service

Customer service is critical to the long-term success of every organisation, in every sector. Poor customer service has severe financial implications, including:

  • Negative word of mouth (both verbal and via social media)
  • Costs of complaints and escalations
  • Ombudsman issues, mediation and legal costs
  • Re-work of customer issues
  • Labour time of handling multiple contacts and issues
  • Loss of sales
  • Poor morale, motivation and engagement.
  • Increased staff absenteeism

To change the perception of customer service in Australia, organisations need to:

  • Focus on their people by motivating, training, developing and enabling team members to deliver exceptional service
  • Train or hire customer-focussed leaders to build strong customer service cultures
  • Make it easy for customers to do business with them across all channels
  • Remove any obstacles, blocks or barriers that result in poor service
  • Listen to and act on feedback from both customers and employees

When organisations create a culture where everybody prioritises customer care, they will create higher levels of customer satisfaction, positive word of mouth in the marketplace, increased customer loyalty and profitability and increased employee morale and engagement.

Ancora Learning Specialist Facilitator - Monique


Contributor – Monique, Ancora Learning Specialist Facilitator
Monique is widely recognised for her passion and expertise in Customer Service and her high levels of both client and participant satisfaction. Monique has designed and facilitated a wide variety of programs including Customer Service, Customer Service Leadership, Internal Customer Service, Handling Customer Complaints, Dealing with Difficult Customers, and DiSC Profiling workshops with the aim of assisting organisations to increase employee performance and engagement, customer satisfaction levels and customer focus.


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