The 5 Most Notable Customer Service Failures and How You Can Easily Avoid Them

For every company with great customer service, you will most likely find a corresponding bad example. As of today, you probably have encountered your fair share of fails in customer service, but you are not alone. Even entities with excellent customer service (or those that we expect to be winners) have made certain mistakes that affected the experience of a client adversely.

Every year, companies in the United States lose more than 75 billion dollars due to poor service. As a result, businesses aim to ramp up investment in strategies that could improve their customer experience. Unfortunately, customer satisfaction stubbornly falls to new lows every new day.  

While you may wish to emulate the best, there is still a lot that you can learn from the worst. Let us explore some of the silliest fails.

Avoidable customer service failures to learn from

Here are the biggest examples of bad customer service from the least expected companies and the crucial lessons.

5. The unsatisfied customer got a 'McScolding'

McDonald's also made it into this list of silly customer service failures. The incident took place at Wisconsin, where Tom, Tina, and their 9-year-old son drove through a McDonalds. They ordered and were later to wait for over 15 minutes, after which Tim gave up and requested a refund. Interestingly, the employee could hear none of it, and the manager finally stepped in and pulled an interesting stunt.

He was caught on video scolding and yelling to the family to make their own cheeseburger and teach their son how to cook a hamburger. Anyone knows that such behavior may rank at the top of the 'list of things not to do' in McDonald's customer service training manual.

The lesson here is quite self-explanatory.

4. Here, Amazon customer service was inside the Toilet

So you order toilet paper (three cartons) from Amazon at $88.7. After some time, you notice that they charged you a shipping cost of $7,455. Eek!

This is exactly what Barbara Carroll, an online shopper, went through in May this year – But it gets worse.

Initially, Ms. Barbara was not so much concerned. After all, the e-commerce company is known to look after its customers well. But it was not so this time around. She complained about the same six times! Furthermore, she also wrote a letter to Mr. Jeff Bezos, the CEO. He responded with a letter indicating that she would not be refunded since the delivery came undamaged and was on-time. Double-yikes – again.

She finally ended up taking the matter to a local TV station. Her story went viral, and this was when the company finally decided to take action. After two-and-a-half months, she was reimbursed.

Mistakes do happen, and that is understandable. But it is professional and cautious to take ownership of such open issues and provide the relevant solutions immediately.

3. British Airways was partially asleep for sometime

After flying from Chicago to Paris on British airways, Hasan Syed was disappointed and frustrated at the same time. The airline was unable to address the issue of his dad's lost luggage, and he immediately switched to the best place to express your annoyance: Twitter.

Interestingly enough, he chose to promote his message through paid advertising instead of just a simple tweet. As expected of an airliner of its caliber, a swift response would clear the issue once and for all. But as it turned out, the company took an astonishing eight hours to come up with a response.

By then, over 76,000 users had seen the tweet, and it was also featured on Mashable. Furthermore, the airline's reaction was a reply straight from 'responses you should never issue on Twitter.' They claimed that their feed is usually open from 0900 to 1700 hrs GMT, and requested Hasan to DM his baggage ref.

Of course, by now, he was boiling hot!

He declined and asked the airline to DM him instead. To make matters worse, they responded by saying that they cannot do that because he was not following the company on the site. The truth is, he was already in their follower's list. These responses prompted the public to wonder how the company operates 24/7 yet has a few hours dedicated to Twitter responses.

Proactiveness is crucial here, and that is why Hassan used a promoted tweet to escalate the issue. He felt the airline did not take his request seriously.

Response time is among the crucial performance indicators. As such, it is eminent that you ensure your customers get fast responses, and you address any issue quickly.

2. Frontier Airlines failed at compassion and communication

Two children, aged 9 and 7, were returning to Orlando from Des Moines, where they had gone to visit their grandparents. Unfortunately, pore weather conditions forced Frontier Airlines to divert the flight to Atlanta. In terms of safety, the company did okay. But from a customer service angle, Frontier failed miserably.

They did not notify the parents who were already waiting, and the office in Orlando was no good. In fact, one of the children had to borrow a cell phone to communicate with the parents after landing. Otherwise, they would have received no updates on the whereabouts of their children. Understandably, the parents were both upset and frightened. But when confronted, the airline remained unapologetic. They insisted that they just followed 'standard protocol.'.

The foundation of customer service is caring for customers, and this comprises of both communication and compassion. Frontier got a big fail in these two areas after the incident.

1. Sensitive issues require no cookie-cutter customer service

With numerous advanced communication channels and social media, customers expect nothing less than personalized customer support, 24/7 availability, and shorter response times. Regardless, you should never sacrifice the quality of your products for speed and customer service around the clock. The Bank of America knows this too well – because they learned it the hard way.

Mark Hamilton wrote an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk of the bank's Manhattan branch but was later on ordered to vacate by the police. Naturally, he went on Twitter and stated how he was chased by NYPD for 'obstructing the sidewalk.'

The bank's customer service team responded to mark and other commenters with a similar 'copy-pasted' message response that was not even relevant to any of the raised concerns. People initially assumed that an overzealous bot created the responses. But the financial institution later confirmed that the page was in the hand of humans at least at that particular moment.

The message failed at personalization as the employees copied and pasted initial responses instead of reviewing the issue and reacting to it thoughtfully and appropriately. To avoid this, you can use a combination of automation and human agents and ensure that someone is always manning your social networks.

Get expert guidance to avoid the silly failures

Successful companies usually outsource the right customer service from third parties. But it is crucial that you choose the most reliable partners to represent the face of your brand, or you risk other agencies tarnishing it. You can schedule a demo with Augment CXM and let them work with your customer service agents. This way, you are guaranteed of an AI partner who can help you avoid such silly mistakes.  

The current competitive business environment has no room for some of these failures portrayed by big dumb companies. That is why you need to be on top of your game in terms of customer support.

More Customer Support Knowledge

The new contact center world

Covid-19 is forcing companies to ask their agents to WFM. But what does this mean for the growth of the contact center

Read Story

Covid-19: Moving your Contact Center to WFH

If you're a business owner or any kind of direct manager, you're probably wondering what in the world you can and should expect from your staff that are now working from home.

Read Story

Is AI a Job Killer or Enabler? 3 Reasons AI Redefines Not Replaces Jobs

Let's think about how AI and humans can do better together. The concept of AI replacing jobs is misinformed and unfounded. AI will not be a job killer but a job creator and help humans work better.

Read Story

Stay up to date with the future of CXM