Research reveals the six deadly sins of customer service

7th Apr 2010

The results of a new consumer survey have been used to categorise the six deadly customer service sins committed by businesses – with the research also revealing the cost of such poor customer experiences.

The study, conducted by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited, discovered that 48% of people who have had a negative customer service experience were more likely to change provider as a result.
In the current economic climate, this could translate into a catastrophic migration of custom for businesses who fail to deliver a positive customer experience.
However, the research revealed that businesses are letting one or more customer experience shortcomings undermine their efforts to keep customers satisfied. And using the feedback from the study, Bacs identified the following categories of customer experience dissatisfaction:
  1. Inactivity - customers complained of a receiving "lots of promises but no action".
  2. Poor communications - comments suggested issues associated with language barriers: "they struggled to communicate".
  3. Ineffectiveness - customers indicated a lack of help in resolving issues with comments like: "no help was given when requested", "no one offered assistance", "they did nothing well".
  4. Impersonal approach – a lack of personal attention was highlighted with comments including: "automatically assumed the worst and sent a threatening letter", "didn’t give the matter the urgent attention it required".
  5. Lack of responsibility – comments showed that customer service representatives not taking 'ownership' of issues: "they blamed the bank, the bank blamed them".
  6. Lack of cooperation – customers' comments pointed to a general sense of non-cooperation and disinterest: "they were dismissive", "they wouldn’t cooperate".
Mike Hutchinson, head of marketing at Bacs, believes that the research into customer service standards illustrates the importance to companies of investment in customer service practices.
"This research illustrates that many companies are still failing to recognise the integral value that superior customer service can have to a business," he said. "In many cases, customer service has become depersonalised, leaving customers dissatisfied and more inclined to change providers."

Replies (3)

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By elodiechizat
08th Apr 2010 12:48

This is an excellent "customer satisfaction 101" summary of what not to do. I am however suprised not so see any technology related issues in this list. What about dead ended IVRs, expensive contact numbers, complicated self-service input, etc.? Any opinions?

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By Neil Davey
13th Apr 2010 12:07

Hi Elodie,

Many thanks for your comment. A very good point, of course! The more that technology is being deployed to support customer service, the more capacity there is for it to fail or be misused!

However, I'd suggest that in many cases technology issues are more of a symptom than a cause. For instance, dead ended IVRs and complicated self-service systems are symptoms of a poor approach to customer communications - any problems with these technologies should have been identified and addressed.

In the right hands, technology - even technology like IVRs! - can support customer service.

Just my tuppence worth!


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By davewelch
30th Apr 2010 15:31

Having spent some time elevating the Status of Quality and Maintenance, which were seen either as the cause of the problems or a problem to be cost-cut to death, I have watched with disbelief as Outsourcing and inadequately tested Technologies have been introduced to Customer Service.

In many cases these ill thought out Cost Savings have had to be reversed, at significant expense but, worse still, after numerous Customers have left in disgust.

Businesses and Organisations which invest in Customer Service, tend to reap the rewards of their efforts; you will have your own favourite examples.

As a Lean practitioner, the Customers Needs are paramount and prioritise large Change Processes. The rewards are spectacular but the over-riding goal remains Customer Satisfaction.

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