A Poor Customer Service Example: How NOT To Treat Your Customers

I experienced a wretched example of a series of poor customer service incidents from an organization I trusted, honored, respected, and invested time and money that will forever leave a scar from their betrayal, their false accusations, their belittlement, and their deception. This example is the ultimate prototype of poor customer service. I am not the only person to suffer at their hands.

Almost from the beginning of more than 10-year association as a customer with this organization and having worked with this organization in several different capacities in multiple states, I have had to fight for the most elementary customer service. Poor service representatives, leaders, directors, and managers evaded their responsibilities by refusing to answer questions, by not performing critical timely actions that were detrimental to accomplishing needful procedures, by not engaging in proactive communication, and by causing additional expense because of their negligence. Sometimes resolutions would be forthcoming, but most of the time the struggle was unending and their lack of responsibility and proper engagement have cost my family needless, excessive money.

The events occurring in June of this year (2015) began a personal exodus from this organization. My support team changed from one group of disinterested people to a new group of disinterested people. I use the word “disinterested” because I initiated all the contacts to these support personnel since I was not hearing from them and was not able to ascertain critical timely information they were to provide to me or perform necessary procedures only they could perform. Proactive customer communication is their only job. Their only job is building customer relations, supporting customers in long-term relationships, and building the brand with loyal customers. Their only mission is customer contact, proactive, engaged, value added, customer contact, and not performing their jobs is customer service suicide. Good customer service representatives find reasons to contact the customer and check-in, check up, and set expectations for the next contact. In our current day, email and Instant Messaging have added less time intrusive communication tools than the phone. Successful customer service employs the customer’s desired mode of communication so the customer may communicate on their preferred time and using their preferred method. When I did hear from my previous or current support teams, they disregarded my preferences and held me responsible for their errors. This is customer service suicide.

In July, the organization initiated a minor change to my account that forced massive revisions to my account. No proactive communication occurred; all reactive responses, similar to a “knee-jerk,” happened after I initiated communication asking for an explanation and assistance. From the middle to the end of July, these “knee-jerk” auto-responses of simple platitudes and organizationally mandated verbiage continued. I hoped a manager would see the mounting customer frustration, proactively audit the account, and passionately take-charge and communicate with the customer. This could have been an opportunity to stop the customer service suicide, rectify a situation, and begin building trust in the organization again. This did not happen and an opportunity was lost due to personal managerially driven choices.

In August, managers, finally, became involved beginning with praising team members for handling difficult clients like me. All my communications, professionally written, occurred in email fashion and are available for perusal. In addition, this month (September 2015), I initiated contacting directors, leaders who are vested in the health of the organization. Not once did they respond. The organization does have a group specializing in dispute management. When I contacted Dispute Management the first time, I deliberately discussed the possibility of finding solutions without pursuing an official charge. I simply wanted to resolve these core customer service issues. However, nothing resulted, no responses, no opening in the organizational communication chains, only silence; more customer service suicide.

In September, outside agencies contacted me soliciting for money still in dispute with the organization because of the events that occurred on my account in June and July. I called the office handling dispute management and was sent the proper email form to fill out. I listed in an email my concerns, which were ten individual points and problems that created the current issue. After eight successive email messages restating, re-explaining, and re-detailing my position, the end communication from the organization comes: “Thank you for contacting our department. We find you as the customer was not diligent enough in proactively communicating, and we will hold training for the issues discussed. Your situation is now concluded.” When did I receive the information and service requested? Where is the remuneration for the organization driven costs to third parties I now have to pay? Where is a sincere apology, followed with an action plan, to prevent this situation from happening again? Yet, the dispute team has concluded their investigation, found the customer was to blame, and have closed the case. Customer service suicide is not descriptive enough when an organization blames the customer for the problem, in writing, and acts with such impunity.

This entire story illustrates customer service suicide. Leadership driven suicide occurred from managerial loyalty to those who can secure their positions, rather than loyalty to securing a successful customer service resolution. Discontinuity suicide comes from having one customer facing department following one set of guidelines, processes, and procedures, whilst another customer facing department follows a different set of rules, guidelines, processes, and procedures, and a third customer facing department follows a completely different set of rules, processes, procedures, and guidelines.

From a plethora of organizational evidence, the organization knows they have these problems, is aware of potential solutions to these problems, provides lip service to fixing the problems, but has no plan, no leader, and no organizational will to change. Although the organization makes every other change imaginable, based on the current “flavor of the month” quick-fix antidote, the business is committing inertia suicide. From all evidence, without appropriate intervention, this organization will eventually implode. The time has come to end this relationship worth more than a $100,000 USD, a lost goal, a failed relationship, and an unfathomable amount of work hours that will never come to fruition. Our time together has come to an abrupt and pitiable end. I will not laugh as this organization slides into the wastes of infamy. I will weep for you because you pioneered something special and then betrayed your legacy, thwarted all attempts to change, and sacrificed yourself in such a contemptible manner. I would like to wish you well; in fact, I wish you nothing.

© 2015 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved


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Dual service military veteran. Possess an MBA in Global Management and a Masters degree in Adult Education and Training. Pursuing a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Business professional with depth of experience in logistics, supply chain management, and call centers.

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