Take A Hard Look At Your Customer Experience

WRITTEN July 9, 2015 Author: Rich Atkins

Customer Service FAILure can occur because representatives may not be well trained, the phone system may be too complicated, or the website may be having some issues. But the important question should be: Is management aware that there are any problems?

When is the last time you contacted your organization’s customer service to see what it is like?

Take a look at a few FAILure scenarios (described below) could have been avoided by having management test the Customer Service experience. That’s when real change will take place.

These examples of practices that can send clients to other providers:


PROMPT: “Hello, and thank you for calling the Monolithic Corporation. Please listen carefully, as our menu options have recently changed.”

(I listen carefully. The menu options haven’t changed. In fact, they’ve been the same for the past couple of years – every time I call.)

PROMPT: “In order to serve you better, please enter your account (or other identification) number now.”

(I enter my account number.)

PROMPT: Please hold, while we transfer your call.

AGENT: “Hello, this is Josh. May I have your account (or other identification) number, please?”

CALLER: I already entered it.

AGENT: Oh, well it didn’t come through.

CALLER: Then why did I enter it?!”

This is a failure within the existing phone system – the account number ideally should be forwarded with the call. However, even giving the caller some notice that the account number will need to be repeated throughout the call would go a long way to improve the customer experience.


CALLER: “Is so-and-so there?”

EMPLOYEE: “She’s not available right now. Can you call back in 15 minutes?”

CALLER: “No. You can take a message and have her call me.”

EMPLOYEE: “Oh she’s really busy, and I can’t guarantee that she’ll call back.”

CALLER: “So it’s company policy not to return phone calls? Look, I’m calling this number once. She’s not available. That doesn’t place the burden on me to call again. You make sure that she calls me!”

Testing your Customer Experience

Providing your customers with personal service proves your commitment. When a customer sees that they get personal service, they become better customers. It is never acceptable to say “not available, call back.” That is very impersonal.


CSR: The equipment you have is outdated. You’ll need to get a new converter to continue using our service. That will be an additional $6 per month.

CALLER: Oh, so your rates have gone up?

CSR: No. Not at all. Our rates have stayed the same. It’s just an additional $6 per month for the converter, so that you can continue using our service.

CALLER: Oh, so your rates have gone up?

CSR: No. Not at all …

And so it went, ad infinitum.

Double-talk comes up more than we all realize. It can be used to make things seem better than they are, hide the true nature of something with big words, or even make contrary ideas seem compatible. Make sure your organization does not hide costs within a complicated explanation. Listen to the answers that are being given by your reps for those hard questions. Keep it honest.

Customer Service Phone Call Hall of Shame

  • Phone menus with no “speak with a human” option.
  • Phone menus that take forever to navigate to the correct service area, only to hear “You’ve reached the XYZ Department after hours. Please call back when we’re open. Good bye” and the line goes dead.
  • Phone call transfers that turn into disconnects, without any pre-emptive personal responsibility (“May I have a call-back number, in case we get disconnected? OR “If we get disconnected my extension is xxxx.”).

Customer Service professionals often don’t have the power to change the phone menu system (or any other negatives that customers may encounter). Management must test the customer experience to determine what needs to be changed. When they do, these horrible FAILs and situations of customer alienation will be discovered, corrected, and avoided.


This information is from our Customer Service training curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Photo Credit: PhotoAtelier

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