Why bad customer service can make me hate your company with a white hot passion

Terrible customer service will taint people's minds against a company and even a product, no matter how extraordinary it is.

As I write this article, my head is threatening to blow up and scatter brain matter all over the place. Gross? Yes, but that's what happens when you're angry and have no outlet for the anger.  This is what happens when you deal with the cable company.

I recently moved into a new house. With a move comes the requisite red tape—doing an address change with the PO, canceling your old utilities and starting new ones—but nothing prepares you for the special hell of dealing with the cable company. Or at least the one I was dealing with.

I'll spare you the goriest details but the process of getting cable installed in the new place involved being on hold for a total of five hours (including waiting in a chat room for a customer rep), cable being strung incorrectly around the perimeter of my house and not buried (the techs never came back), the final installation not even being what I'd ordered, etc.

Basically, if this cable company were a person, I'd punch it right in the stomach. Since it's not, I will share my displeasure through social media, where I will name names and warn everyone I know to stay away from the place.

So my question is why a company would have an average hold time of 45 minutes for any call—whether it's someone ordering or someone complaining about a service. Is it a matter of cheapness, just an unwillingness to hire enough people to deal effectively with clientele? Or did this cable company just happen to find all of its employees from a low IQ pool?

And why doesn't this company have some kind of quality control measures in place for their installer contractors? Is the long hold time a way to make sure they never hear any complaints?

It's unexplainable and unacceptable. The only experience I have had that's even come close to is the wait lines at my cell phone service provider. (Is it me, or do those reps stare at their screens an inordinately long period of time when setting anything up?)

I don't care if you offer your end-users computing speed that is so fast it's almost time travel, if you can't work with the customer in a satisfactory manner, then you are losing more than you think. Once your company gets a bad reputation, it's very, very hard to undo it.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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