Perspectives: Why Is Customer Service So Bad At Most Places?

/Perspectives: Why Is Customer Service So Bad At Most Places?

Perspectives: Why Is Customer Service So Bad At Most Places?

scott-mckain-headshotFrom Scott McKain:

Customer service is bad at most places, because evidently that is what CEO’s and managers want. What other reason could there be for them to accept such miserable performance? Most care more about selling than serving. We know that when sales decline, companies will buy ads, offer new customers better deals than existing ones, deliver training, hold major events, and take any number of extraordinary measures to pump up revenue. They are passionate and precise about customer acquisition — but reserved and reticent about customer retention. Here’s evidence: most companies have annual sales rallies – how many have one every year for customer service? Educated and cared-for employees should be prepared to deliver “Ultimate Customer Experiences ®” to everyone spending money with you. In turn, these customers replicate their purchases, and refer you to their friends and colleagues. Your business grows. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. If everybody – from front line employees, to entrepreneurs, to major corporate executives – would create experiences so compelling to customers that their loyalty becomes assured, organizations would experience enhanced levels of both acquisition and retention. Yet, if it’s not the priority of the leadership or owners – why should the folks on the front line get excited about it? For more information, visit

larry-winget-headshotFrom Larry Winget:

Customer service is bad because we allow it to be bad. What do you do when you get bad service? Tell the truth. Most do nothing. Most people simply don’t have the cojones to speak up when they get bad service. They don’t tell the person delivering it. They don’t ask for a manager. They don’t leave an online review. At most, they might–maybe–possibly (though probably not) stop shopping with that business. If you aren’t willing to speak up, then you are an accessory to the crime. You have allowed a crime to happen and stayed silent about it. Shame on you. You owe it to yourself, the next shopper and to the company to speak up in an effort to make things better in the future. You can’t ignore bad service and expect it to get better. Behavior that is ignored will be repeated. It’s a law. Write it down. Next time you get bad service, speak up. Remember: it’s your money you are defending–money you worked hard for. Tell the company and others. Use the internet and social media. That’s how customer service will improve for all of us. Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ best selling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to  

From Mark Sanborn:

Larry makes a great point about the customer’s culpability in enabling bad customer service. Here is the employer’s role:

  1. Customer service isn’t taught. No matter how motivated an employee is, they can’t perform a job without the right skills. (And don’t confuse “smile and grin” training with true customer service training. There is more to great service than simply “being nice.”)
  2. It isn’t rewarded. Most organizations pay no more attention to those who provide great service than those who don’t. As the old adage goes,what gets rewarded gets done. The corollary is what doesn’t get rewarded usually stops being done.
  3.  It isn’t required. If delivering extraordinary service isn’t part of the job description, don’t be surprised when you   don’t get it and get push back when you “request”it. Great service shouldn’t be an option.

Require your team to provide great service. Just make sure you teach them how and reward them appropriately when they do. Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker. and best selling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit

joe-calloway-headshotFrom Joe Calloway:

At 90+% of the places I do business, customer service runs from good to absolutely great. I travel a lot, and renting a car used to be torture. Now I hit about 4 clicks on the rental website, get to the airport, walk into the lot and pick any car I want (I tend to rent from National), and drive away. I recently returned some hiking boots I’d worn for a while to REI (I wasn’t happy with the fit.) They smiled, got a salesperson to help me with another pair, and I was on my way. The kids working at Chik-fil-A are friendly, efficient, and the chicken is good. Amazon Prime is one button to buy and ships in two days. Zappos service is legend. My car dealer loans me a new car to use when I get mine serviced. “But wait! You aren’t going to the places with bad service!” Exactly. Read Larry Winget’s post on this. If I get bad service, I fire them. I don’t go back and I tell them why and they don’t get my money any more. Lousy service happens when customers let them get away with it. Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better.

randy-pennington-headshotFrom Randy Pennington:

My friends are correct–service is bad because leaders want and/or allow it. From my experience, this leadership failure is rooted in one critical idea: Companies with bad service view it as a cost to be managed rather than an investment that creates a competitive advantage. This view will never be acknowledged. In fact, most companies say that they strive for service excellence. Words are not action, however. Focus on these three areas if you want to make service your competitive advantage:

  1.  People: Who do you hire? How are they trained, compensated, and rewarded? Do your front-line leaders develop them and provide a great environment in which to work? Who is promoted, and who is fired?
  2.  ProcessIs every process clearly defined, documented, and communicated?Are your processes designed to deliver the best possible result for the customer or the least expensive result for the company? Do you continually evaluate and update processes to stay current and relevant?
  3. ToolsDo your people have the resources and information they need to succeed? Are they empowered to actually use the tools at their disposal?

Stop managing service as a cost. Start leading it as an investment. Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to