A list of 15 customer service no-nosNancy Friedman customer service, call center, Telephone Doctor, 15 sins of customer service
When it comes to getting customer service, what's your
definition of rude? What unprofessional behavior irritates you the
most when, as a consumer, you are interacting with another
Sometimes, customer service that is perceived as rude is not
intentional, and often is the result of absent-mindedness or
carelessness on behalf of an employee. Either way, bad customer
service can translate into lower sales and lost business.
Based on our surveys, The Telephone Doctor has compiled the 15
biggest sins of customer service employees today. They are listed
below, along with The Telephone Doctors guidelines on a more
effective way to handle the situation.
If your companys customer service managers and front-line
employees are guilty of any of these, its time for some action.
Otherwise, you may have an image problem that could sabotage your
efforts to produce and market great products.
1. Your employees are having a bad day, and their foul mood
carries over in conversations with customers. Everyone has bad
days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to
2. Your employees hang up on angry customers. Ironclad rule:
Never hang up on a customer.
3. Your company doesn't return phone calls or voicemail
messages, despite listing your phone number on your Web site and/or
in ads and directories. Call customers back as soon as you can,
or have calls returned on your behalf.
4. Your employees put callers on hold without asking them first,
as a courtesy. Ask customers politely if you can put them on
hold. Very few will complain or say, "No way!"
5. Your employees put callers on a speakerphone without asking
them first if it is okay. Again, ask first, as a
6. Your employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with
customers on the phone. A telephone mouthpiece is like a
microphonenoises can easily be picked up. Employees need to eat
their meals away from the phone. And save that stick of gum for
7. You have call waiting on your business lines, and your
employees frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls.
One interruption in a call might be excusable. Beyond that, you
are crossing the "rude" threshold. Do your best to be prepared with
enough staff for peak calling times.
8. Your employees refuse or forget to use the words "please,"
"thank you" or "youre welcome." Please use these words
generously. Thank you.
9. Your employees hold side conversations with friends or each
other while talking to customers on the phone, or they make
personal calls on cell phones in your call center. Dont do
either of these.
10. Your employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word
answers. One-word answers come across as rude and
11. Your employees do provide more than one-word answers, but a
lot of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that
many customers dont understand. If you sell technology
products, for example, don't casually drop in abbreviations such as
APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.
12. Your employees request that customers call them back when
the employees aren't so busy. Customers should never be told to
call back. Request the customer's number instead.
13. Your employees rush through calls, forcing customers off the
phone at the earliest opportunity. Be a little more discreet.
Politely suggest that you've got the information you need and you
must move on to other calls.
14. Your employees obnoxiously bellow, "What's this in reference
to?" effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests.
Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and
finesse. If a caller has mistakenly come your way, do your best to
point him or her in the right direction.
15. Your employees freely admit to customers that they hate
their jobs. This simply makes the entire company look bad. And
don't think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment wont get
back to the boss.
Enjoy the day!
Nancy Friedman, "The Telephone Doctor," has spoken at the
past three National Association of Mortgage Brokers Annual
Conventions and is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service
Training in St. Louis, Mo. Nancy is a frequent speaker at meetings
and conferences worldwide. She may be reached at (314) 291-1012 or