Bad Customer Service Examples you Should Avoid

One of the best ways to learn how to avoid problems in any field, and to know what problems are present to avoid to begin with is to learn by example. So, if you want to learn how to give the best customer service and support possible, then you’ll do well to learn from bad customer service examples.

You can learn from these both in discovering the kind of issues present in ensuring good customer service, but you can also learn why various problems exist, and the consequences that can come from these problems not being solved. So, while you never want bad customer service, looking at some bad customer service examples can teach you every bit as much as examples of good service can.


Well, this is something where providing specific examples with names is pretty difficult, and could actually be considered libelous. So, we’re going to look at general examples of things we’ve all experienced that do, indeed, exemplify what makes customer service unacceptably awful at times.


#1 – The Voice Recognizer

The first thing that we all absolutely hate is when a call center asks you to speak to it verbally, to recite “yes or no” answers, or to quote account numbers or the like, and then it doesn’t understand you. After asking you for it three times, it then asks you to press keys to answer it.

This is bad customer service. Avoid attempts at voice recognition and just use touch tones. Just because a technology sort of exists, that does not mean it needs to be deployed!


#2 – Hold Times Gone Wrong

The other big problem with call centers is how hold times are handled. While they are unavoidable, they can be absolutely awful when this happens.

So, you’re on hold, and music comes on. It’s tinny, inaudible, and you decide, well alright, you’ll just tune it out and do something else until you hear a human voice again. Oh no wait, you can’t do that either, because every few seconds, looped recordings of service advertisements shake you from your tune out, keeping you in a limbo.

This is bad customer service, because it tortures the customer while they wait. Don’t do this. Ensure good audio quality, play neutral, relaxing music and do not, repeat, do not loop advertising audio.

#3 – Bad Communication

Finally, we come to bad communication skills on the part of the customer service people. We’ve all encountered a few varieties of this. The most common one is getting agents who speak our language as a second language, and do not understand us well, and whom we cannot understand well either.

However, going back to the menu thing, we have another communication problem, and that is the phone trees being hard to navigate. Sometimes we think we heard the right option, but what we’re after isn’t there. So, we have to hang up and go through the menu a billion times before we get the right department.

This is awful customer service, and it can be solved by making these menus simple, making sure our agents speak the language in question fluently, and that if someone dials the wrong department, they can be instantly, painlessly transferred. Or even better, let’s pursue multi channel support like help desks, chat systems, social media support and onboard software like WalkMe for self service, and eliminate these problems.

These are the prime bad customer service examples that come to mind for everyone when they think of why they hate having to deal with customer support. Let’s learn from these, and strive to make them a thing of the past!



is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe