Customer Service
8 Examples of Bad Customer Service and How to Avoid Them

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10,000+ teams use Hiver to delight customers!

8 Examples of Bad Customer Service and How to Avoid Them

Jul 07, 2023
7 min read

Table of contents

Have you ever found yourself stuck on hold for hours, or talking to a customer service representative who just doesn’t seem to care about your issue? It’s an example of bad customer service that we’ve all had to endure at some point. 

As a business, it’s crucial to prioritize customer experience and take proactive steps to ensure every interaction is a positive one. How do you do that?

  • Understand what mistakes your customer support team is making
  • Figure out actionable ways to correct them 

In this article, we share 8 customer service mistakes, some examples of bad customer service, and offer suggestions on how to prevent them.

Table of Contents

What is Bad Customer Service?

Bad customer service refers to a situation in which a customer feels unsatisfied or poorly treated by a business or company. It leads to customer dissatisfaction, loss of trust in the company, and negative word-of-mouth recommendations, which can ultimately impact the business’s reputation and bottom line.

8 Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Long Wait Time on Calls

Customers today expect efficient and timely assistance when contacting customer service. This is echoed in Hiver’s State of Customer Support Report – one of the key findings from this research is that every 3 out of 4 customers get frustrated by long waiting times on call. 

How to fix this?

Monitor and optimize processes: Analyze call data and customer feedback to identify bottlenecks. Monitor inefficiencies and make targeted improvements in your customer support processes. For instance, analyzing call data may reveal that the average wait time is too long. 

Offer self-service options: Redirect customers to a knowledge base or FAQ section. This approach frees the customer service team from solving repeat queries and helps them dedicate time to more complex problems. 

Implement a call-back system: Many companies offer a call-back system, so customers don’t have to wait on the line forever.  For instance, a customer seeking technical support can be given the option to request a callback at a convenient time rather than waiting in a long queue. 

Use chatbots: Chatbots efficiently provide quick and accurate answers to customer issues. These are especially useful for handling straightforward common queries, like those on order status, product information, reservations (mostly for travel/hospitality companies).


2. Multiple Call Transfers between Agents

One of the biggest pain points of customers when getting support via phone is that they have to repeat their queries multiple times to different agents. Almost 38% of US-based consumers agree with that. Frequent call transfers suggest that agents lack the appropriate customer service skills to understand queries. 

How to fix this?

Train your support reps in specific areas: Train your reps by focusing on effective onboarding, encouraging peer-to-peer learning, and conducting quality assurance reviews. Effective onboarding should cover in-depth software training, building rapport with managers, and using the internal knowledge base. 

6 ways to successfully onboard customer service agents
6 ways to successfully onboard customer service agents

Better call routing: Ensure customers are routed to the appropriate support agent in the first place, using Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and conversational IVR technology. These technologies help you route customer calls based on location, status, campaigns, or membership type. 

Use tools and metrics to track call transfers: You can use ACD technology and Genesys tools to streamline external factors affecting customer service and create KPIs to measure call transfer frequency. Monitoring this helps you understand how call transfers affect your customer service experience.

3. Asking Customers to Repeat Themselves

Repeating yourself is so passé, especially in customer service. In fact, the same Hiver report found out that 38% of customers find it annoying when they have to repeat themselves on phone calls. This happens either due to broken processes, or lack of product/service knowledge in the support team. 

How to fix this?

Have all the necessary information beforehand: Keep all the required information like call history, name, or other records at your fingertips without having to play the guessing game. 

Use call recording tools: Using conversation intelligence or call recording tools like, you can identify which team members are asking customers to repeat themselves. Determine the root cause of customer complaints and find out which agents need further training. 

Be attentive: Practice active listening. Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues to understand customer expectations. This will minimize the need for customers to repeat themselves.

4. Lack of Empathy when Talking to Customers

Empathy, or the lack of it, can create loyal customers or lead to unhappy customers. In fact, one in five customers believe that support reps should show empathy—not just the fake, “I’m sorry you feel that way” kind. A lack of empathy can lead to several issues, such as customers feeling unheard or like their problem is being brushed off. 

How to fix this?

Train your team: Hiring empathetic team members should be the first step in ensuring customer support. Train your existing team to use empathy and be mindful of their language. Using phrases like “I completely understand” and “I know where you’re coming from” shows that you’re paying attention and acknowledging what the customer is saying.

Remove biases: Recognize and address biases that may affect how support agents interact with customers – based on age, gender, language, or occupation. For example, your rep may believe old customers aren’t usually tech-savvy. Biases can create barriers, hindering agents from connecting with customers and leading to negative experiences.

Actively listen: When customers are upset, they want to feel like they’re being heard and understood. Ask questions before providing solutions to encourage customers to share their problems. By asking open-ended questions like, “Can you elaborate on that?” and showing a willingness to listen, customers feel heard and valued.

Inculcate empathy in customer service

5. Lack of Flexibility

Customer needs are unique. Sometimes, the one-size-fits-all company policies do more harm than good. Strictly following company policies or waiting for authorization from upper management can lead to a poor customer service experience. 

For example, a customer service rep’s inability to authorize returns or match sale prices without approval from upper management can lead to delayed resolutions to customers’ problems. This can contribute to customer frustration, and ultimately, lead to higher churn.

How to fix this?

Give more autonomy to reps: Without autonomy, customer service reps can’t make decisions or handle issues, leading to an increase in response time – by seeking approvals or escalating to higher authorities.

Relax policies, wherever possible: Relax your company policies for prompt response and action. If they are too rigid, customer service representatives may be limited in providing personalized solutions to customers. 

6. Support isn’t Easily Reachable

Many customers come to your website specifically for customer support, so it is critical not only to create a search engine friendly site but also to make it easy for customers to locate the details. Hiding it at the bottom of a page or requiring multiple clicks to access leads to a bad customer experience. 

Doing so will force customers to spend a lot of time searching for contact information, which can lead to churn.Here’s a good customer service example. One of the leading retail brands, named Zappos, places its customer service contact details at the top of all its web pages, so people can contact their support easily. 

How to fix this?

Be where your customers are: To support customers online, set up dedicated social media accounts and instantly follow-up with customer inquiries, comments, or complaints. For great customer service, you can also use social listening tools to monitor mentions of the brand and respond promptly. 

Leverage technology: Use a shared inbox solution, like Hiver, to offer omnichannel customer service and make internal collaboration seamless. Keep things organized and hassle-free with this tool that lets you easily track, assign, and build customer loyalty.  

Connect through messaging for asynchronous support: Unlike traditional communication channels, instant messaging, SMS, and emails allows customers to reach out when it’s most convenient. And with the ability to serve multiple customers at once, your support agents can power through issues.

Live Chat:Live chat allows customers to get support in real-time without navigating through multiple pages or waiting on hold. Customers can multitask while receiving support, saving them time and improving their overall experience. Likewise, reps can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, increasing efficiency and reducing wait times for customers.

7. Unwanted Phone Prompts

Automated phone prompts can often lead to a frustrating customer experience because they can be impersonal and time-consuming. It can be aggravating to navigate through a series of robotic voices and push buttons, only to feel like you’re not getting anywhere. This leads to customers feeling unhappy and dissatisfied. 

How to fix this?

Implement a call-back option: To ensure customer satisfaction, retire these painful phone menus and implement a call-back service. For example: Instead of saying, “Please hold for the next available representative,” businesses can say, “We appreciate your patience. A representative will be with you shortly. Alternatively, if you would like to request a call-back, please press 1.”

Improve automated prompts: Revamp your phone prompts and make them short, actionable, and easy for customers to understand. Instead of relying on lengthy prompts, consider upgrading to AI technology to deliver more personalized and effective support messages. 

8. Teams Working in Silos

Silos hinder teams from understanding each other’s roles in improving the customer experience. The lack of collaboration and information-sharing can create significant challenges for customer support reps. 

For example, a customer contacts the customer support team to resolve a billing issue. The customer service agent only has part of the information, so the rep must contact the billing department, leaving the customer on hold. This can frustrate customers and waste agent’s time shuffling between departments, explaining the problem and obtaining information.

How to fix this?

Build a customer-centric work culture: Address silo mentality that can form in businesses focused on revenue and sales. By highlighting the customer journey and departmental roles, employees can be motivated to work together, creating a customer-centric approach. When the customer is the focus, teams can work towards a common goal of delivering an excellent customer service, promoting a silo-free culture.

Make internal communication a breeze with shared inbox: Invest in a shared inbox solution that makes internal communication between departments seamless. Shared inboxes drives better collaboration by giving complete visibility into tickets and allowing you to assign tasks, priotize, and mark statuses and leave comments on tickets. It allows reps to give prompt responses and provides clarity on responsibilities and progress.

Improve your team's efficiency

Hiver: The Solution

The impact of bad customer service can be detrimental to your business, causing harm to your brand reputation, demotivating support reps, and creating dissatisfied customers. 

Hiver is a one-stop solution designed exclusively for Google Workspace users. It works across departments to offer seamless collaboration, and ensures better customer experience. Start a 7-day free trial

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