September 20, 2019 | By

7 Ways Customer Service Can Go Wrong

We all know that nobody wants nor has time to deal with bad customer service. But unfortunately, bad customer experiences happen every day. And while it’s no consolation to the customers who have been at the receiving end of lousy support, other businesses can learn from common CX mistakes. Let’s take a look at seven frequent causes of poor customer experience to uncover the ways businesses can change bad experiences for the better:

1. Not enough channels

Yep, believe it or not, we’re still talking about this, because businesses still haven’t caught on: Different customers want to engage with brands in different ways, for different support reasons—and they’re using an increasingly diverse mix of channels to do it. While most customers still prefer phone and email, a recent study shows that other channels are gaining momentum: 20% of customers said they used online chat with an agent in their most recent interaction with a brand, and 11% used a social media channel. But don’t plan on doing away with your call center any time soon; Just because you introduce a new channel doesn’t mean you should take away others. The key is to provide options.

2. Wait times

Nobody likes being stuck in a long queue to talk or chat with a representative. And we mean they really don’t like it: We recently conducted a poll of 3,000 US consumers with OnePoll and 32% of them said they would rather give up sex for a week than wait on hold for service or support. The only thing people say they hate more than waiting on hold is waiting in traffic. Whether the issue is staffing or long handle times due to complex issues, technology can help cut through the gridlock. Chatbots and other self-service tools can be used to triage lower value, easy-to-answer questions, freeing up queue space for the complex and high-value inquiries that require human attention.

3. Bad bots

Not all bots are created equal. In fact, you may be better off not using bots at all than incorporating scripted bots into your customer support mix. These so-called chatbots (which don’t actually do much chatting) require a specific, predictable flow of responses from customers instead of leveraging natural language processing (NLU) to understand what customers really need. With scripted bots, a customer can easily find themselves in an endless back and forth that may or may not actually lead to the answers they need. It’s a one-star review for your company just waiting to happen.

4. Not getting a real person 

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You finally find the hidden phone number or locate the chat link on a website, and then you run right into a never-ending, multiple choice menu of options or questions, none of which quite fit your situation. And there’s no way out—no option to speak to an actual human. This, in my opinion, is the biggest potential fail in a support experience. Too many businesses look to technology to just deflect support, neglecting the fact that not all situations can be solved via automated IVRs or even the more robust chatbot. Always give your customers the proverbial “press 0 to speak with an agent” option. Always.


Example of a bad bot and poor escalation path.


 5. Making people repeat themselves

Don’t you love it when you get past a brand’s technology gatekeeper only get to a human who asks you for the same information you just entered? And then, to make matters worse, the agent asks you to take the same support steps you already did using self-service information provided, because they can’t skip that part of the “script.” It happens when agents are working in systems where they can’t easily see information about earlier customer interactions or when support tools aren’t being used or can’t be used to carry information at all. Whether it’s from chatbot to human or human to human, the handoff between different support conversations with a single customer should feel seamless—a continuation of a single conversation, not a new conversation every time.

6. Transfer, transfer, transfer

Being sent from one agent to another to another is unfortunately one of the most common and most frustrating occurrences in support situations, whether in phone or digital channels. It typically happens for one of two reasons:

  1. Poor routing—either because the right details on the customer problem weren’t collected or because routing isn’t based on expertise of the supporting agent. Smart routing tools can address both of the things.
  2. The first agent didn’t have the knowledge or training to solve the problem. If this is the case, there is an excellent digital fix: A centralized, easy-to-use knowledge system, powered by AI, can help make even the most junior agents come across as seasoned veterans. Research has indicated that augmenting agent knowledge with AI powered tools can impact a number of areas, including showing a 5x improvement in transfer frequency.

7. Different agents, different answers

No CX experience makes me angrier than speaking to different customer service reps at one company and receiving a different answer or solution every time. When I feel like I’m working with three or four separate businesses, it calls into question the overall quality of the support organization and makes me skeptical of any answer I get. Usually, this kind of disconnect between agents goes hand in hand with siloed teams and siloed knowledge. All too often, agents on different teams, or supporting different channels, are trained differently. They’re accessing different documentation, too, which leads to this disjointed, inconsistent experience. As mentioned in the previous point, a knowledge management system that’s easy to access (and therefore drives usage across teams) is a powerful way to help bridge the knowledge gap.


If any of the CX pitfalls above ring true for your company, it’s time to start looking at the operational, staffing and technology fixes that can help you deliver better customer experiences. Succesful AI deployment is one way that customer service can be improved so we’ve compiled a few best practices to help you get started.

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