Don’t let poor customer service define your business

Effect of poor customer service on your business

Customer service should be a priority for all businesses, yet for many it is a disaster area. We take a look at some customer service fails that have left customers tearing their hair out.

“A brand is defined by the customer’s experience,” according to customer service expert Shep Hyken.

Richard Branson agrees. “The key is to set realistic customer expectations and not just to meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways,” he says.

So why do so many businesses get it so wrong? Big brands such as Thomas Cook really should do better. Last year, it charged a customer £123 to change his wife’s title on their booking from Mr. to Mrs. even though the mistake was theirs. After other errors with the order, including being charged twice, Thomas Cook offered the customer a voucher of £150 – an empty gesture, as it required the customer to spend more money with them.

Bad as these are, they pale into insignificance compared to some companies. Sadly, telecoms firms are among the worst. A report last year revealed that half of British customers say they have had a bad experience with a phone provider. The research, by Thunderhead, claims that unsatisfactory customer experiences could be costing UK mobile providers as much as £1.6 billion a year in lost revenue.

After the Guardian got involved, Thomas Cook decided to upgrade the customers to premium class but then charged them £603 for the privilege! This was blamed on the way “the system” works. The customer was eventually refunded.

One way in which the customer is fighting back is through social media, with Twitter a popular forum for disgruntled customers. An effective one too, thankfully, for Waterstones customer David Willis who tweeted: “Hi @Waterstones I’ve been locked inside your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.” An hour or so later he was.

P&O’s approach to a complaint was more novel. An elderly client asked for his deposit to be returned after the company failed for three months to confirm his booking on a cruise. They argued that as “human error” was to blame, the refund wasn’t due.However poor some telecoms providers may have been, they are eclipsed by Scottish Power. Last year, the Glasgow-based energy supplier agreed to pay Ofgem £18m for its poor customer service, which it blamed on its computer system. Ofgem was unimpressed. “I don’t care how they messed up, it’s their requirement to get the IT right,” said Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan. “If they produce poor quality service I frankly don’t care why.”

Incredibly, Scottish Power attracted more than one million complaints between June 2013 and December 2015. A quick Google search shows that Scottish Power runs the risk of being defined by its customer service, an unenviable position for any business.

That’s not to say the customer is always right as this exchange on social media shows. Twitter user @SadderDre tweeted Domino’s Pizza to complain: “Yooo I ordered a Pizza & Came with no Topping on it or anything. Its just Bread.”

Quick as a flash Domino’s responded to say they were sorry to hear that and suggested he contact Domino’s UK for help. Credit to @SadderDre, who we expect may have been in a “confused” state late on a Saturday night. His response: “Never mind, I opened the pizza upside down :/”

Opus offers a number of products to support customer service including call logging, call recording and IT managed services. You can find out more about them here or call us on 0800 316 7566 to discuss further.

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