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  • Vedika Agrawal

10 Reasons Why Customer Service Sucks

Contributors - Purnima Thakre, Jiwoo Suh

When was the last time you called any customer service and were helped immediately? It certainly wasn’t in the past 2 years. Why has customer service declined in the past 2 years? Why must we hold for hours, and once we finally get a hold of an agent, why does the service almost never meet our expectations?

Good customer service is more important for businesses than for customers. Research shows that 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.

We interviewed business leaders to understand the “why” behind the current state of customer service. Based on their experience here are 10 reasons why customer service sucks.

  1. Customers are feeling higher stress levels since Covid. People are struggling to get through their day to day lives. Dealing with work, relationships, and the health of themselves and loved ones are at the forefront of their minds - they do not want another thing to worry about. Customers want service requests resolved immediately during the window of time they can actually address it so it doesn’t add to their laundry list of to do items. Surveys have found that “90% of customers regard immediate responses as important when they have a query.”

  2. Customers want to talk to humans, not machines. According to Forbes “55% of customers like talking to a real person.'' A live chat is not enough. Customers expect immediate and genuinely empathic responses from customer service; they want to feel heard, not just dealt with. These days, customer service is often automated, but customers want to talk to humans, not machines.

  3. Lack of customer centricity: The customer is at the heart of a business’ success. It is easy to lose the culture of customer centricity as the business keeps expanding and growing. Internal barriers like leadership not developing the business as a customer-centric organization and the lack of properly trained agents detract from creating a customer-centric culture. Top management must endorse, advocate, internalize the value for excellent customer service for it to become ingrained in the business’ culture.

  4. Customer service workflows are not aligned with the customer journey: Without mapping out customer support workflows, bottlenecks or breakdowns can go unnoticed and unaddressed. Tracking customer workflows can help companies provide better quality customer service and respond to customer inquiries quickly by being aware of customer behaviors and needs. Building customer journey maps that detail every touchpoint of a customer is essential. Without systems that continuously update for current trends, customer complaints can be overlooked.

  5. Marketing fit: Marketing is linked to the customer experience. When ideating how to showcase a product to the world, marketing must accurately represent the product to attract customers whose wants or needs align with the product’s solution. The more authentic, accurate, and easy-to-understand marketing content is, the more sales and fewer negative customer service calls a business will get. Poor marketing that provides an inaccurate representation of the product will lead to an influx of negative customer service calls, spreading the customer service team thin. This creates opportunities for providing less than satisfactory customer service to already disappointed customers.

  6. Lack of unified customer view: Customer services have to be offered on a wide variety of digital and physical platforms, and must be omni-channel. According to Aberdeen Group, “companies that provide a consistent service quality across multiple channels retain 89% of their customers, whereas companies that do not provide a consistent quality are only able to retain 33%.” Consistent and attainable customer service will help build customer relationships and loyalty. For instance, customers who have a rewarding customer service experience on Facebook should be able to have an equally rewarding experience from the company’s website support.

  7. Poor after-sales support: For most businesses, once the sales are closed, customer service takes a back seat. Companies hardly bother to follow up and see if customers are facing any issue with their product. The lack of follow up creates a lost opportunity for making sure that the last impression a customer has of the product is a positive one. Essentially, lack of after-sales support can decrease the chances of creating a return customer.

  8. Increased call volume. Contact Centers are under more pressure than ever, as there are many pandemic related inquiries. Customer service agents feel heightened stress as they have to take more calls per day and try to figure out their work/life balance. According to HBR, “The average company saw the percent of calls scored as difficult by reps increase by more than 100%, which also may have caused customer service agents to not have an instant solution for the customer.”

  9. Training call agents is a time consuming task. Transition periods require more than six months to train a new employee for optimal performance. Even if companies hire skilled people, onboarding as well as teaching and training them about company culture, branding, and product specifics takes time. It’s a continuous practice and investment.

  10. Customer service agents are working remotely, just like everyone else. The WFH transition and its challenges continue. There are mental/physical distractions, and remote customer service agents need time to adjust as they learn to use new softwares. Lack of in-person contact with managers and other agents increases the risk of customer service agents making mistakes since they do not have colleagues around to ask for instant advice. Customer services are transferring customer calls too frequently. Transferring calls from team to team can frustrate the customer. While call transfers are valid at times to better support a customers’ needs, making this process as seamless as possible is crucial to creating a superior customer experience.

Are you interested in hearing and discussing solutions to fix broken customer service? Join us Live on Wednesday October 19 at 4:30pm ET. Signup here to be reminded when we go Live.

refine+focus provides an empathy-based digital customer service and experience training program for select companies that place a high value on training their team to effectively represent their brand online and beyond. Contact us at to learn more.

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