Five Causes of Poor Customer Service

Lauren Krause
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Customer service is an essential component of any successful business or organization. While a great customer experience keeps customers coming back and helps drive new sales, poor customer service practices can destroy a business' reputation in a very short period of time. To improve your customer satisfaction, tackle these five causes of poor customer service, as defined by Jeff Toister, employee training expert and founder of Toister Performance Solutions.

1. Too Much Employee Feedback

Providing customer service employees with detailed feedback may seem like a good practice. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Some studies suggest that giving employees too much feedback may leave them feeling overwhelmed by too much information, causing their performance to suffer. For best results, keep feedback at a minimum.

2. Taking Customer Interactions Personally

Some of the most common advice given to customer service employees is to not take customer interactions personally. This means employees should develop thick skin and let bad experiences roll off their shoulders. The tough part about this seemingly great advice is that it goes against every human's basic instinct. The fact is, most people do take things personally. The best way to handle such situations is to help your employees work through those bad feelings in order to manage negative customer interactions with grace and professionalism.

3. Excessive Caffeine Use

Believe it or not, a caffeine habit can contribute to less-than-stellar customer service. Caffeine, in large quantities, can cause jitters, crankiness and irritability, making it more difficult to deal with customers. Encourage your employees to cut back on the afternoon lattes.

4. Lack of Employee Empowerment

Many companies consider employee empowerment to be a bad practice with the potential to wreak havoc in the workplace. But as it turns out, very few employees actually feel empowered at work. A study recently found that a whopping 86 percent of call centers don't empower their employees. According to employers, the main reason for this is concern for a lack of consistency.

5. Learned Helplessness

Employees who don't feel empowered may eventually stop trying to create the best experiences for customers. Psychologists call this phenomenon "learned helplessness": a condition in which a person believes any effort he exhibits to change or improve a situation is futile, causing him to ultimately give up trying. You must give your customer service employees the power and freedom to provide real, customized solutions to problems.

Making these common customer service mistakes can cause lasting damage to your company's reputation and your bottom line. Avoiding these blunders through proper employee training practices not only fosters stronger customer relationships, but it also maintains high morale and job satisfaction among your customer service employees.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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