When Customer Service Fails

Do you know what your customer service staff say to your customers?

How are your customers really being treated?

Every day, staff are interacting with customers.

What impression do customers take away from their experience with your staff?

Consider the following interaction between the service staff at a car dealership and a long standing customer requesting a routine car service.

Customer drops off vehicle for service

Customer: “How long do you need the car for?”
Staff Member: “We should have it ready for you to pick up by 4pm.”
Customer: “That’s fine. Can you also look at the lock mechanism on the front passenger door. It sometimes takes a couple of goes to get it to lock.”
Staff Member: “Yes, we can take a look at that for you.”
Customer: “Can you also look at the brakes? There’s a slight pulsing in the pedal, particularly when braking to a complete stop.
Staff Member:  “Sure. We’ll check it out and let you know.”
Customer: “Ok. I’ll see you at 4. You have my phone number if you need to contact me during the day.”
(Staff member confirms correct phone number.)

4pm – Customer returns
Staff Member:  “I’ll find out what’s happening with your car. There’s a waiting room upstairs if you’d care to wait.”
(No further feedback provided.)
[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]I won’t be coming back again! -the result of bad #custexp[/social_quote]
Customer: “Can you let me know how much longer?”
Staff Member:  “I’ll check to see for you.”
Staff Member:  “It should be ready soon.”

Customer (to others waiting): “This is ridiculous!”
Fellow Customer: “Yes, I won’t be coming back here again!”

Staff: “Your vehicle is ready.”
Staff Member:  “We completed the service. You need new tires. We couldn’t find the problem with your brakes, but you need new pads soon, so that should fix it.”
Staff Member:  “The problem with the passenger door lock is that the mechanism needs to be replaced.”
Customer: “Why didn’t you let me know? Don’t you have the tyres and brake pads in stock? What about the door lock?”

customer experience mechanic
Staff Member:  “Oh, we ran out of time. No, the door can’t be locked at all now. We can book it in to have the part fitted next week.”
Customer: “That would be good. (I think.)”
(No apology for the lack of contact, or the delay in the car being available, or any clarification on parts required, or the fact that the vehicle can no longer be secured!)

Some days later …

Customer: “I’m here to have the new door lock fitted.”
Staff Member:  “Ah yes. Let’s get that done for you right away. Sorry for the problems last time. We were really busy. Our survey department received your customer feedback form. We hope you will give us full marks for today.”
Customer: “We’ll see.”
Staff Member:  “You know, we receive a bonus when we get good scores on customer surveys. And we get the best scores in the city for our service. I actually share my bonus with my colleague, and he shares his with me, so we always come out on top.”
Customer: “Hmmm.”

Later that day …

Staff Member:  “All done. Be sure to give us a positive report when our customer survey team contact you.”

[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]Your customer’s experience IS your brand! #custexp[/social_quote]


Is this how staff treat your customers or clients? What incentives do you provide your staff for satisfying your customer’s needs? If your staff are not placing the interests of your customers first, then your customers will not stick around.

Your customer service, and more specifically, the experience of your customers, IS YOUR BRAND!

Infographic – Customer Experience

Take a look at this recent post, Wake-Up – Take customer experience seriously by Torben Rick. It includes a great infographic with 8 key points to consider about customer experience.


No, the customer has not returned to that dealership. In fact, attempts to obtain good customer service from another nearby dealership were also a dismal failure. And to cap this off, the issue with the brakes was remedied by an independent brake specialist for one-third the cost of the quote provided by the original dealership, without replacing any parts. In addition, a visit to a local tire specialist resulted in the purchase and fitting of four new tires.

This customer will not be purchasing another vehicle of this make any time soon; and definitely not without some solid evidence of a major turnaround in their customer service attitude and training.

Given that this has proven to be an endemic issue with this organisation, there’s obviously a need for change at the top management level. It’s important to recognise that within any organisation, the attitude of its staff is a reflection of the attitude of its leaders.

How much is the attitude of the leadership in your organisation contributing to bad customer experience?

How much is bad customer experience costing your business?

customer experience waving goodbye
BPM Systems