Four examples of poor customer service and how companies can fix them

Paul Donovan, of County Durham, wanted to cancel several services from a well-known telecom company in the UK. After dialing the customer service number, he waited on hold for 14 hours. It’s believed this is one of the longest contact center wait times on record. 

While Paul’s case may be extreme, it’s one of many examples of poor customer service that continues to plague telecommunications and broadband industries. In fact, the average Net Promoter Score (NPS) for telecom is only 31. Even worse, cable and internet service providers (ISPs) have an average NPS of around negative seven.

Low-quality customer service carries a hefty price tag. According to Midlands Technical College, bad customer service costs businesses up to $1.6 trillion per year. And 96% percent of people are willing to leave a company after just one bad customer service experience. Below, we cover four common examples of poor customer service and how your business can fix them. 

The state of telecom and broadband customer service

The telecom and broadband industries are undergoing rapid innovation in the age of new technology. As our phones are capable of streaming, gaming, managing work tasks and so much more, these providers play a huge role in their customers’ daily lives. 

Unfortunately, both of these industries have a customer service problem. According to the 2023 National Customer Rage Survey, the telecommunications industry is one of the top 10 industries where customers report serious customer service problems. Additionally, the survey found that only 33% of customers are satisfied by their telecom providers’ actions when they experience an issue. As for broadband, J.D. Power found that the average customer satisfaction rate for select top cable and internet service providers sits around 69%.

Now more than ever, customer service ratings are a critical factor in the success of your business. For 78% of people, the quality of customer service plays a key role in purchasing decisions. By learning from examples of bad customer service, your company can rise far above the competition to attract and retain customers. 

Four examples of poor customer service (plus how to fix them)

While most companies aren’t making customers wait overnight to speak to an agent, poor customer service can increase expenses and customer churn. In this section, we go over four of the most common customer service issues faced by customers and the steps your company can take to correct them. 

1. Not being able to talk to a real person

While technology can do many things to enhance the customer service experience, it isn’t a replacement for humans. For example, many chatbots are unable to help with complex service needs. When a more serious tech issue arises, a customer needs to speak to a contact center agent to resolve the problem.

However, getting in touch with a human isn’t that easy, leading to a lot of anger among today’s customer base. According to the National Customer Rage Survey, the top frustration among customers is not being able to talk to a person. 

Instead, many customers are stuck listening to long messages that require them to go through several prompts to speak to an actual person. Or customers are unable to find information about how to get in touch with your company when an issue arises. This information may be buried under multiple clicks on a website or not available at all.

How to fix it

Ensure a way for customers to speak to a human

When a customer has a more complex service request, make it easy for them to reach a person who can help. Ensure there’s a way for your customers to quickly find the number for your contact center, without having to scroll and click around your website. 

Additionally, cut any fluff out of your automated prompts. Lengthy prompts are the top frustration for customers, so make sure yours are clear and concise so customers can reach a human contact center agent without going through unnecessary steps. 

2. Lengthy contact center wait times

When Tom Cheredar reached out to his well-known internet and telecom provider, he waited on hold for 45 minutes before being disconnected and having to call back. Unfortunately, Tom isn’t alone in his experience. Studies show that in 2022, contact center hold times tripled.

These lengthy wait times are primarily due to a shortage of contact center agents. When you have fewer contact center agents combined with higher call volume and high turnover, your customers deal with longer hold times, leading to a poor customer service experience. This can worsen your net promoter score and increase customer churn.

How to fix it

Improve contact center agents’ onboarding experience

Creating a successful contact center agent onboarding program is the best way to ensure employee retention. Effective onboarding programs can reduce employee turnover by 82%. 

Many onboarding programs don’t set up contact center agents to succeed. While the exact needs of your onboarding program depend on your company, a few general best practices for effective agent onboarding include: 

  • Setting clear goals for your new hires
  • Keeping training materials up to date
  • Providing agents with feedback
  • Creating a mentorship program

Problem #3: multiple calls or transfers to resolve an issue

Often, after customers wait on lengthy holds, they’re transferred to multiple agents who can’t resolve their issue. They may also have to call back when a technical issue is still unresolved, despite agent assistance. Not only does this increase contact center volume and customer frustration, but it also hurts your business. 

First-call resolution rate (FCR) is a key metric when evaluating the performance of your business. Low FCR indicates low customer satisfaction ratings, which increases the risk of your company hemorrhaging customers. 

How to fix it

Improve agent performance with better training methods

To reduce the number of call-backs in your queue and call transfers, you’ll need to provide agents with better training opportunities. For example, rather than rely on physical devices, you could start implementing virtualization, also known as virtualized tech support

Virtualization allows your agents to interact with a virtual version of a device or app, just as they would a physical one. However, unlike a physical  device, agents can switch between multiple versions of that phone or its software releases with just a few clicks. This helps agents provide more tailored support, increasing NPS ,FCR and a host of other key metrics for improving customer service ratings.

Investing in the right training for your agents is well worth it. While the overall NPS for telecom and broadband remains low, it’s not true for all companies. Verizon Wireless has been awarded number one in customer satisfaction by JD Power. How did they do this? They invested in new technology and training that empowered agents to become experts in the devices their customers used. 

Learn how Verizon Wireless saves tens of millions annually with Ozmo for Agents.

Problem #4: lack of (or low-quality) self-serve options

Did you know that 88% of customers expect you to provide a self-serve option? And 77% of customers will view a company more favorably if they provide customer self-service. 

Self-serve is no longer a “nice to have” in customer service. It’s now a key differentiator to help your telecom or broadband company stand out in an increasingly competitive market. 

However, the key isn’t just to do customer self-service but to do it effectively. And this is where a lot of companies fall short. Two-thirds of customers say their service provider’s current self-service offerings don’t help them resolve their tech issues. In turn, poor customer self-service can lead to low customer retention and NPS.

How to fix it

Know what to look for in a self-serve solution

A robust self-serve solution benefits both your business and your customers. With self-service, your customers can access the support they need 24/7. This also helps drive digital adoption among your customer base and cuts contact center wait times by empowering customers to resolve issues independently. 

A strong customer self-service solution is also good for business. Customers who have a great customer service experience are 62% more likely to recommend your company to a friend. And word of mouth is a powerful tool for growing your customer base.  

So, how do you choose a customer self-service solution for your business? While the best solution for you will be determined by your company’s specific needs, as a general guide to providing the best customer self-service, look for a solution that:

  • Meets your customers’ needs and the goals of your business
  • Is accessible to the one in four Americans with disabilities (WCAG 2.0 compliant)
  • Easily integrates with your website
  • Updates dynamically so your customers always have access to accurate information

Create a better customer service experience 

While the telecom and broadband industries overall might struggle to provide quality customer service, that doesn’t have to be the case for your business. 

To avoid serious repercussions as described in these examples of poor customer service, consider taking steps such as implementing a strong agent onboarding program or a more robust customer self-service solution. As more than three-quarters of customers factor customer service into their purchasing decisions, following these best practices will help you stand out from the competition. 

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Ready to create a service experience your customers will love? As a leader in omnichannel customer support, Ozmo is trusted by Verizon, Appalachian Wireless, TELUS and more. Learn more about the future of tech support today!