How Customer Service Reps Ruin Customer Service

By: Cindy Thornthwaite

Have you ever gone into a place of business, only to hear or see the employees do something unprofessional?  I have and depending on the situation, I may never go back into that business ever again, especially if the Customer Service Rep is rude.  Every individual is different in their beliefs and ideas and what angers me, may not anger the next person.  Every Customer Service Rep should be aware that just because you didn’t offend one individual, that same comment, joke, or gesture, (either directed at your customer or to another co-worker) may definitely offend the next person.

I wish every company would invest extra time and money into each new hire in order to effectively train those individuals before putting them out on the floor with the customers.  I understand that not everyone is wired to be great at Customer Service, but companies are doing a disservice not only to themselves, but also to their loyal customers.  They are also hurting their bottom lines; especially when you have individuals like me, who refuse to ever go back.  Just imagine if they spent a few precious resources to train their Customer Service Rep before they “let them loose” on the public?  Why does the employer just trust that Customer Service Rep?  As a business owner, wouldn’t you want to ensure that the individual you hire would go above and beyond in order to protect your business?  A company hires an employee based on what skills and qualifications they placed on their resumes and how they behave at a job interview.    What do they really know about that individual, do they have any idea how they behave when they are stressed, angry, or just plain spiteful.  You don’t know how they will handle the stress of having a customer like myself.  You don’t know when they will snap, or be rude or disrespectful.  So, I ask you, why would you NOT invest in those employees in order to guarantee top notch Customer Service?  Spend money to make money, right?

I can’t tell you how wonderful would it be to go into EVERY place of business and be treated with kindness and respect.  Your customers would never go anywhere else!  And all because, you, the employer, invested in your employees!  To me, that spells, PROFIT, PROFIT, PROFIT!

I have witnessed everything from totally ignoring a customer to actually making a customer cry!  It sickens me to see these horrible examples on a daily basis.

13 examples of the unprofessional things I’ve witnessed by Customer Service Reps:

  • Not speaking to your customers when they arrive
    • Nothing makes your customer more uncomfortable then walking into your business, unsure where things are, unsure of the surroundings, and then not having that Customer Service Rep, who is standing right there, pretend they don’t see you. The customer is in your place of business and has decided to spend some of their hard earned money at your establishment – don’t ignore them!  They may find that they need to spend their money elsewhere.
  • Having a customer go through their entire visit without any employee speaking to them (especially in a retail setting)
    • I have been in several retail outlets and have gone my entire visit with once being spoken to by an employee. That even includes during the check-out process.  Why?
  • Employees having a side conversation in front of customers
    • Customers don’t care what you did last night, they don’t care that you are upset/angry with your partner, parent, or someone else. They don’t care that your co-worker called in today and said she couldn’t make it because she didn’t have a sitter and that makes you mad because you have to fill in for her, especially when you know she went out last night and had a sitter for that!  At that particular time, they don’t care if your car is broken down and you had to find an alternate way to work.  They don’t care that you are mad because you have to work and it’s not fair, you worked yesterday and you had plans for today that you had to break.  They don’t care that cool guy who comes in all the time asked you out on a date.  Simply speaking – THEY DON’T CARE!  Remember, at this moment – it’s all about the customer.  If there is a customer within ear shot of your conversation – the conversation needs to be about the customer and their wants and needs.  Your personal conversation with your co-workers/friends/family, etc.  ENDS!  Plain and simple!
  • Employees speaking on their cell phones in front of the customers
    • Your personal business should always stay personal! When a customer is within ear short of your conversation – the conversation should only be on how you can help your customer.
  • Employees arguing with the customer
    • I have seen employees actually getting into a heated argument with their customers. Some individuals just have to always be “right” no matter what; and if that individual works for you – look out!  If you make your customers feel like they are always “right”; they will continue to visit your establishment and give their money to you, not to your competitors.
  • Being rude to the customer because you are in a bad mood
    • Just because you have to work today and you had other plans, please don’t take that out on your customer. It is not their fault you have to be there and you are unhappy.  There is nothing that irritates me more than a Customer Service Rep who is obviously in a very bad mood.  Don’t take it out on your customer!  Without them spending money in your establishment, you wouldn’t have a job.
  • Not making eye contact with your customer
    • When you don’t look me in the eye – it’s just plain rude. Acknowledge them!  Show them some respect and look them in the eye.  Otherwise, they may think you have something to hide!
  • Totally ignoring the customer, just hoping they will “go away”
    • When a customer enters your place of business, don’t look away hoping they will not notice that you were looking. (We’ve all probably been in a similar situation where you see someone out in public and the last thing you feel like doing is spending time speaking to them – so we avoid them at all costs.)  Believe me, they notice and you snubbing me that way will only aggravate me and put me in a bad mood.  Acknowledge the customers’ presence and make them feel welcomed!
  • Acting like the customer doesn’t matter
    • Two things guaranteed:
  1. Customers do matter because without your customer – you are Unemployed
  2. Customers do matter because with them your business is Losing Money
  • Employees standing in the doorway smoking and making customers walk past them
    • As a non-smoker, having to walk through your blue cloud of smoke, disgusts me!
  • Eating in front of your customers
    • Yes, you have the right to a break and to a lunch. But, not on your customers’ time, not when you are supposed to be focused on them and not the food in front of you.  Besides, maybe the customer is hungry too and they don’t have any extra money for food; you eating in front of them just reminds them of the fact that their broke.
  • Leaving items out that can cause your customer to trip or fall
    • Why?
  • Not smiling at your customer!
    • Your genuine smile makes the customer feel important and respected. Exactly how you want a customer to feel!

This is just a short example of things that I have seen from all aspects.  My list could go on and on, but I will reign myself in.  Bottom line; treat your customers with dignity, professionalism, and respect.  You may just be surprised at how much money they spend in your establishment.  And truthfully, isn’t that what you really want?  The customer to spend their money and increase your profits?

Okay, so you say to yourself after reading this article, that my business isn’t all about profit – it’s about numbers, it’s about meeting the needs of the community.  These same rules apply to those individuals who have no choice and have to enter your business.  Maybe they have to report to you regarding their actions and movements, they still deserve the same respect and professionalism that you would give to a customer who is spending money.  Your courtesy and respect will go along way and that person who is upset/angry that they have to be there at all, will become more relaxed and maybe even just a little less apprehensive.  Show them that they matter, show them that without them you would be unemployed.  Show them your best self.

That’s what I strive to do every single day – show my best self to everyone.  Save the other you for your personal life.

The professional you needs to shine!