Paolo Fabrizio
January 7, 2020

Customer Service Failures: From Hello to Hell No!

How To Avoid Customer Service Failures

After this festive season, we are ready to get on with the new year. Despite our usual good intentions ‘I want to be more friendly, helpful or patient’, our daily routine soon brings our feet back on the ground. That will surely happen when you need to get in touch with the customer service of your bank, insurance company or your favorite shopping mall. At that moment, you’ll have great expectations but may face customer service failures, that will leave you disappointed and frustrated. Since such situations do not happen by chance, I’m going to answer two major customer service related questions.

1. [Sentiment Oscillation]: What Makes Customers Angry?

Like it or not, we all have daily online conversations – either in our professional and personal life. We interact using social media, messaging apps, live chat and/or email. And all these channels enable mainly written conversations. So when it comes to customer service that’s an issue because:

  • We can’t hear the other person’s voice – so we miss the tone of voice or emphasis he/she would add to his/her words
  • We can’t see him/her – so we have no access either to his/her visual expressions or to his/her gestures. (For us Italians, speaking with hands means a lot!)

Consequently, the lack of the above elements is fuel for misunderstandings. And misunderstandings lead to bad feelings and therefore, poor customer experiences. That happens very rapidly, like a sudden rain on a sunny day. Vice versa, when customers get annoyed or frustrated, they need way more time to come back to a positive sentiment.

2. Where Does So Much Customer Service Fail?

When I assess new clients, I start by analyzing their customer service interactions. That’s the most effective way to learn how healthy the relationship with their customers and which situations cause friction with them. Well, having assessed a large number of brands belonging to various industries, I’ve noticed some recurring customer service failures:

  • Delayed answers. In a world of speed with social media and messaging apps, customers no longer accept anymore having to wait to get in touch with customer service. They instantly deliver their queries and, after that, they expect to get an answer in very few hours. Brands failing to do so experience customers urging an answer across more channels: Consequences: having to deal with a nervous customer, across many channels, with fewer chances to deliver a positive CX
  • Unclear / incomplete information. Speed is necessary, yet not enough to make a customer say ‘that’s awesome!’. When writing your response, take the time to review it before hitting the send button. When reading it, put yourself in your customers’ shoes as if he/she was a 7-year-old kid. Then make any necessary amendments. Otherwise, if customers do not understand – or worse, misunderstand, they will make wrong assumptions and will have wrong expectations.
  • Lack of human touch. Customer service staff providing support through digital channels sometimes forget to add the magical ingredient to conversations: Humanity. When doing so they serve beautiful gourmet courses, yet cold. Consequences: customers won’t feel welcome and will tend to ask you more questions than necessary. So when replying to a customer, always mention his/her name and make reference to the feelings that he/she just expressed. Let them perceive that you are human, before representing your brand.

Over To You

In the age of Digital Customer Experience, if you are superficial, you’ll see your customers switching their mood from ‘hello’ to a raging ‘hell, no!’ So, in order to prevent customer service failures, take care of details of each interaction. All in all that’s about building and consolidating customer’s trust to let your business prosper in the long term. And that’s what I wish YOU.

Have great conversations.


If you’d like some consulting or other help with your customer service, please contact us

Featured image: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan