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Top 5 Recent Customer Service Fails

With customers now able to share their complaints on social media, serious snafus often get picked up by the news. The one upside is, when businesses fumble, other companies can immediately learn from their mistakes. Use the lessons from these recent fails to improve your own customer service efforts.

Comcast Calls Anger Customers

Comcast’s call center has recently made the news numerous times, and not in a good way. Consider these examples:

  • When a customer’s home was lost to a fire, Comcast refused to cancel his service because he didn’t have his account number. Several calls and news stories later, Comcast finally cancelled the subscription, but the damage was already done.
  • Some customers have found that customer service reps that changed their online account names to include words like “dummy,” “jerk,” and even expletives.
  • A customer trying to cancel his service endured an eight-minute phone call where he was harassed by a customer service rep for failing to provide a reason for cancellation.

Employee training on tone, approach, and handling unique requests could have prevented most of these situations. In addition, Comcast should modify call screening and remove any representatives who display inappropriate behavior.

Bank of America’s Tone-Deaf Tweets

Bank of America failed big-time when addressed on social media. After being chased away by cops when writing anti-foreclosure messages in chalk outside a Bank of America branch, Mark Hamilton tweeted about it. Bank of America responded to several Twitter users involved in the conversation with generic responses, such as “We’d be happy to review your account with you to discuss any concerns.” It seemed apparent that the Twitter feed was being run by a bot rather than a real person.

Social media puts your messages on display, so generic responses simply won’t fly. Be sure to have trained customer service reps available to handle complaints, questions, and concerns personally.

Southwest Airlines Loses a Passenger

Southwest suffered a huge misstep when an 85-year-old woman was “misplaced” in the Newark Airport for 11 hours. The passenger, who is wheelchair-bound and diabetic, had no access to food or a bathroom during that time. Though a skycap was supposed to help her reach her gate, she never checked in, and no one seemed to notice.

A scenario like this can be prevented with a better system for handling customers who require a little extra assistance. Meanwhile, a company culture of teamwork and customer care is essential for warding off these issues.

Wal-Mart Breaks Promises

Though the company is known for offering “price matching,” Wal-Mart recently refused to match the store prices to the prices listed on their own website. The item could even be ordered online with free in-store pickup, making the situation even more illogical.

It’s never good to break a promise to customers, but it’s especially bad if it’s for something that you use to promote your company. If Wal-Mart had thought through this inevitable dilemma, they could have prevented an unhappy customer and the negative press.

Lululemon Finds New Ways to Anger Customers

After the company chairman said, “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for their clothing, Lululemon was already in hot water. But it only got worse from there. The company banned customers who had sold Lululemon merchandise on eBay from buying products online by blacklisting their IP addresses. It took numerous news stories and customer complaints in the very public forum of Facebook to get them to change their policies.

The lesson learned here is simple. Don’t treat your customers like the enemy or blame them for your own mistakes.

Use these lessons to make sure your customer service team doesn’t fall victim to the same scenarios. With the right training and a focus on customer satisfaction, most businesses will find that customer service fails are easily avoided.

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