25 ways to give bad customer service

Customer service is no walk in the park. As such, there’s plenty of advice out there covering how to create a great customer experience.

However, the same can’t be said about tips on giving bad customer service. But why not? Knowing the exact steps to create a bad experience means you know what to avoid.

So, we’ve compiled a list of things that will guarantee a bad customer experience.


1.    Hide your contact options

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Turn your website into a game of ‘hunt the contact page’ — it’s a great way to turn customer frustration into a game.


2.    Don’t update your FAQ or self-service options

Bonus points if you have many different answers for the same question. That way, your customers will be completely confused by the time they contact you.


3.    Ignore or forget your social media mentions

You can offer bad customer service on social media by doing nothing. Don’t bother using tech tools like automation software to track and answer all your social media mentions. Don’t bother to prevent channel disruption. Just force customers to get hold of you on a private channel, instead.


4.    Stalk your visitors with chat invites

If you use them in a certain way, you can make your proactive chat invitations behave like aggressive pop-ups. Who doesn’t love aggressive pop-ups?


5.    Insist a customer leaves feedback

You’ve taken time to help the customer. The least they can do is give you feedback. So make sure you really pester them for it. Don’t stop asking, and if possible, make it impossible not to leave you a review.


6.    Ignore that feedback

Once the customer does leave that feedback, don’t do anything with it. Particularly if they offer any constructive criticism. In fact, hide any and all negative reviews from sight.


7.    Make your IVR systems as convoluted as possible

Let your phone trees give bad customer service for you. Customers love repeating ‘representative’, ‘human’ and various profanities down the phone while they’re going in circles through your IVR system.


8.    Limit your support options to phone or face to face

Customers with anxiety, millennials and generation X, and anyone in a hurry all love long-winded voice conversations. It only impedes accessibility a bit…


9.    Don’t reply to emails right away

If a customer has sent an email, they probably don’t expect a quick reply. Or even one at all. You don’t want to seem too eager to help them, so don’t reply until at least a week has passed. Or the customer has followed up.


10.  Keep the customer waiting as long as possible before answering a chat

Chat is real-time, and in real-time service, there are normally queues. So, make sure you replicate this by making customers wait in your live chat queues.


11.  Don’t live up to the ‘live’ promise

Don’t worry about leaving your chat channel switched on when no one is there either. Customers should know your business hours anyway.


12.  Lie

If you have unpleasant news to tell a customer, lie instead. There’s absolutely no way that it could backfire into a bad customer service experience.


13.  Get defensive and shirk responsibility

Bad customer service 101: everything must be the customer’s fault. You should never accept responsibility for the problems a customer is facing. That shows weakness.


14.  Any apologies must start with ‘I’m sorry but’.

If you really must apologise, make sure your apology starts with ‘I’m sorry but’. That way, the customer knows you’re not going to be held in any way accountable. Or help them with any level of sincerity.


15.  Offer small, irrelevant discounts as compensation

If the customer still hasn’t given up on getting the problem solved, close the case by offering a discount you know they won’t use.


16.  Respond to abusive customers in kind

Angry people like being called names and having people swear at them. Bad customer service like this gives them more to complain about.


17.  Dump it all on the chatbots

Why deal with customers at all? Let the chatbots take care of it. Bots are babies and can’t answer complex questions yet, but they can always link to your confusing self-service section.


18.  Be a robot

If you don’t have a chatbot yet, act like one yourself. Only give robotic responses, and never stray from your company policy. Don’t give your customers any kind of human flexibility, they don’t want the human touch.


19.  Never, under any circumstance, personalise your service

In fact, customers don’t want to be treated like humans at all. So, don’t bother using their name or their account information. Instead, make the customer repeat themselves a lot — it’s a great way to ensure a bad customer service experience.


20.  Make assumptions about the customer

You can help customers more quickly if you assume that they understand all the technical jargon associated with your product. And if they don’t, the bad customer service that using those terms create should get rid of them anyway.


21.  Never listen

Customers don’t really know what they’re talking about when they bring you problems. So, don’t bother listening to them. Instead, just guess at solutions until you’ve fixed the problem.


22.  Don’t bother enabling screen readers or making accessible websites

Some customers have disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss. But hey, only some. So, another way to offer bad customer service is to make it near impossible for disabled visitors to navigate your website.


23.  Have no system integration

Don’t make it easy for agents to find information for or about the customer. The customer can either wait until the agent finds the information or repeat themselves over and over. Either way, you ensure a bad customer service experience.


24.  Don’t empower or trust your agents

It’s not like you’ve hired human team members so that they can offer flexible support to your customers. Any decisions, offers and deals must go through the supervisor. That way, you make the customer think the rep they’re talking to doesn’t know what they’re doing.


25.  Don’t trust or believe your customers

You probably shouldn’t trust your customers either. The last way you can offer bad customer service is to assume that the customer is lying to you to get free stuff. People love having their integrity called into question.


Don’t do these things

Offering bad customer service boils down to being inaccessible, inflexible and rude.

It’s surprisingly easy to slip up from time to time and offer a less than stellar customer service. If any of these 25 tips hit a bit too close to home, it could be time to re-evaluate.


Useful links

Customer contact: cat got your website’s tongue?

Chatbots vs IVR

One lump or two: knowing your customers has never been easier