When you’re in business, whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, operating as a sole-proprietor, LLC or S-corp, it’s extremely important to provide exemplary customer service in order to maintain your current customer base and grow. However, many companies, especially Comcast go out of their way to make terrible customer service a priority.

The Number One Reason Customers Quit Businesses

According to American Express, 86 percent of customers quit a business due to a bad customer experience. This means that it’s not due to getting a bad quality product or service, it’s absolutely due to the way the company handles the customer experience. For a brick and mortar store, providing a good customer experience may be as easy as having employees readily available to help customers find items and offering a speedy checkout service. If the customer does get a hold of a bad product or accidentally purchases the wrong product, it may be as simple as offering a speedy return process. For online companies, it means have quick phone customer service and/or no-hassle online options, like email and a chat option, where customers can get a fast resolution to their problems, questions or concerns.

Understanding What Makes Up a Bad Customer Service Experience

1. Make Your Phone Number Impossible to Find

While many businesses no longer provide a phone number for customer support, if you have one, you need to have it logically placed where it is readily viewable. You should also not offer callback solutions without providing the full number. No one wants to wait for someone to get around to calling back. People's time is valuable, and the faster someone can get ahold of an agent and solve their problem, the better.

2. Use a Complicated Automated Phone Menu That Prevents Customers from Reaching a Live Agent

The biggest offender of this is Comcast, which now goes by the subname Xfinity. Of course, Comcast has one of the worst ratings for customer service that you could have as a business, and part of that reason is that they make it impossible to get problems solved. If you call them, you must move through a complex automated voice menu where if you choose the wrong options, you’ll get stuck in an endless loop.

For Example: I recently called Xfinity to inquire about the status of a help request ticket. I got the voice automation which first asks to verify your address, then provides you with a list of options. My ticket was in regards to billing, so I said billing. Instead of directing me to a customer service representative in billing, it gave me another automated menu, asking me to pay my bill, hear my balance or do some other crap that was completely irrelevant to why I was calling.

Once I circled back to the original menu by saying main menu, I said billing. I got the same freaking options along with would you like us to send you a link via text. NO! OMG. After several rounds of that BS, I finally said Customer Service. That got me to an agent. BTW, they don't give you the option to say Customer Service agent. You have to remember that it's an option.


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3. Use Customer Service Agents Not in the Country of the Caller.

The days of being able to route calls from one country to another country are over, even if the representative speaks the desired language. This is because non-native speakers can have thick accents that make them extremely difficult to understand. For example, you don’t want to route a native German speaker to someone who speaks German as a second language. This could result in words being mispronounced to the point where they are incomprehensible.

In my case, I was routed to someone with a heavy Indian accent. While I’m pretty good at translating heavy accents, it was nearly impossible for me to figure out what this agent was telling me. Part of it was his heavy accent. The other part of it was due to barely being able to hear him. Eventually, I had to request an agent that was a native English speaker, and I had to request that four times because the agent was like - I can help you.  Yes, but I cannot understand you, and I will not be agreeing to anything I don't understand.  I had to say that four times to get a transfer.

4. Provide Bullshit Answers and Delay Answering Questions

Providing good customer service means eliminating the bullshit. This means answering the question that was asked and not asking irrelevant questions. If a customer asks where can I find X, the answer shouldn’t be: Give me your name, address and phone number. The answer may not even involve going into the customer's account. Instead, they may simply need a list of how to do something, which can easily be spelled out in words or in text via a chat.

In a recent conversation with Xfinity, I asked how to look up a ticket number. This is an approximation of how the conversation went. 

Me: I need to look up a ticket number. How do I do that?

Them: I am so glad you contacted me. How can I help you?

Why do I have to repeat myself? Is this a flaw with the system, or is this the agent diliberately ignoring the question?

Me: I need to look up a ticket number. How do I do that?

Them: Of course, I’d be happy to help you. Give me your name, phone number and full address.

This is not a question that requires this information.  I need to know where the ticket number lookup is.

Me: How do I look up a ticket number?

Them: Can I have your name, phone number and full address.

Me: How do I look up a ticket number?

Them: Give me your name, phone number and full address.

Me: I just need to know how to look up a ticket number!

The agent is deliberately not providing the information. This is incredible.  At this point, it is headdesk-worthy. We're going to ask again because I want this agent to answer my question and learn something about the communication process.

Them: Give me your name, phone number and full address.

Me: How do I look up a ticket number!?

Them: Give me your name, phone number and full address.

Me: How do I look up a ticket number?????????

The agent is definately not learning anything. The question is still not answered.

Them: Give me your name, phone number and full address.

Me: Can I just get this question answered? How do I look up a ticket number?

Them: Give me your name, phone number and full address.

Me: Finally gives them the requested information and asks again – How do I look up a ticket number?

Them: I’d be happy to help you. Can I ask what the ticket is in regards to?

OMFG. I’m 20 minutes into this conversation and can’t get a straight answer. In fact, I never got my question answered. This is the type of question that does not need account information. It needs a list of how to do the thing that was asked. If there is no way for a customer to look up the required information then that needs to be stated clearly, and the agent needs to move on to getting the request handled, and that MAY require account information.

5. Deliberately Provide the Wrong Answer

Do not give customers the correct answer to their questions or offer a canned response. Listen to the question or request and provide the information the customer wants. If that information is unavailable or confidential, say that.

Here’s another Xfinity Example. 

After fighting with the automated system and the chat options on January 6th in order to upgrade my services, I eventually went back to the chat.

Me: I need the phone number for a customer service agent.

Them: Can I have your information?

Me: I just need the phone number for a customer service agent. No automated menu. No hold time because I’ve already been trying to upgrade my account for over an hour.

Them: I’d be happy to help you. Can I have your information? 

Here we go again. They can’t answer a simple question. 

Me: I finally provide the account information that they do not need in order to answer my question. Then, I ask again – Can I get the direct line to a customer service representative?

Them: I can help you upgrade your services.

Keep in mnd that I am asking a specific question.  I want that question answered, and I want out of the chat with the correct information.

Me: I’d just like the direct line to a customer service agent!

Them: I’d be happy to help you. What services did you want to change?

Me: *bangs head on desk repeatedly* Can I just get the direct line to a customer service agent. I’d like to talk to someone.

Them: You are talking to me, and I’d be happy to help you.

I'm just shaking my head at this point, and I can feel my bloodpressure rising.

Me: Could you answer my question?

Them: Here’s a number

Me: This is a direct line?

Them: Yes

Me: Dials the number and hears Welcome to Xfinity. I am looking up your address.

This the automated menu. This is the wrong number! Does the obligatory ten minutes with the automated menu. Your hold time is 65 minutes. And I ended the chat after receiving the wrong information.

6. Lie to Your Customers

When dealing with customers always provide truthful information and never lie. If you lie, your customers will eventually find out that you lied. In my example, I never did get those services updated and upgraded, but once I got to a live agent on the phone after 3 hours, I did request a full month credit due to all the hassle I had received. To my surprise, the agent agreed and gave me a $160 credit that should have been applied within a few days to a couple weeks, depending on billing cycles. 

After several days of not seeing the credit, I inquired about it. No information was available. I provided the ticket number. There was no such ticket number. Okay, I’ll call back the beginning of February, which I did. The first follow-up was the middle of January. When I still had not received my credit, I called back on Feb. 2. 

After much back and forth, the end result was that the agent lied, and even if they reviewed the phone conversation and found that I was promised a $160 credit, they would not honor it. This is lying. This is the worse customer service you can actually give. The correct response to finding out that a company has deliberately lied to you and will not honor their agreements is to cancel all services and never buy a product from them again. I live in semi-rural location. I actually have to move in order to get rid of all the services I have from Comcast, but I can cancel half of them right now. 

Needless to say, if you create a bad customer service experience, you will lose customers. In most instances, the company will see a drop in revenue immediately. Other companies are more fortunate because they have a monopoly or a near-monopoly and may not see the decreases right way. However, I can tell you this, if I provided my customers with this type of customer service experience, I would be out of business very quickly. And if you're wondering how this all started, I wanted to upgrade my services. Because of the terrible customer service, I'll be downgrading.