Really? Customer Service Is That Bad?

I was recently away on a business trip, and received a phone call from my wife. She was sad to inform me that our PVR (personal video recorder for our TV) had finally died. She promptly made a phone call to our satellite provider, and they gave her two options: 

  • $150 for a repair
  • $500 for a new unit

She proceeded to explain to the agent that one of their competitors was offering a TV and internet package at a very aggressive price. Their response,

“We will note that on your file”.

That’s it? Really?  They will note that on our file?

We may call the competitor and never give our current provider the chance to match packages because of their lack of interest in my wife’s comments. We have had several other issues with their customer service department over the years, so I think it was the “audio-visual gods” way of saying it is time to move on.

Paul Castain had an excellent blog post recently over at Your Sales Playbook which discussed his trip to a local gas station. You can read about his adventures at

Good friends of ours just returned from a family trip to California, and could not believe how they were pretty much “tossed to the curb” by one hotel, but had the “red carpet” rolled out by another.

I have a strategy that has worked for me a couple of times now, in situations where I was negotiating with customer service in regards to products and services for my family over the phone. There is a certain amount of negotiation that goes on, and you can be put on hold a few times as the options are debated back and forth. I start to lose patience quickly, and have a new technique.

Early on I ask them to pretend that I am very irate (only I am still calm) and request that they give me the best deal or result possible. I call it “the freak-out resolution”.  It shows that I am very serious about being well taken care of, but I don’t want to be a jerk about it. The strategy works well, and lets them know that I mean business, and minimal concessions will not be tolerated.

After reflecting about these stories and many more, I could not help but turn my attention to the sales profession. Customer service support is vital to the success of any sales team, and I wonder how often management and reps evaluate the job that these teams are doing for their organizations.

If you are reading this and are not in inside sales / customer service, you need to realize how important they are to your success, or possibly failure. Too many negative experiences with support representatives could turn off customers. As a manager, you need to provide these teams with all the necessary support and ongoing training to give them the best chance to perform their roles to the best of their ability. 

If you are a rep, you need to have great rapport with the team and be able to assist and support them if things ever go terribly wrong. It is probably in your best interest to bring up any larger issues with your manager first, and let them decide who should talk to the person in question. You can ill afford to lose any customers, and certainly not ones where customer service made a mess of things.

Other things matter too. You need to treat this group very well. They are difference makers and make our jobs as outside sales reps much easier. Be easy to work with, and certainly DO NOT treat them like your personal assistants! Who do you think will get preferential treatment when their time is limited? The reps who treat them like crap, or the ones who respect the job that they do, and considers them a valuable part of the team?

The stories are endless about customer service today, but the horrible experiences tend to get shared much more than the positive ones. 

Let’s change things up a bit….

Send me an email at if you want to share a customer service story when they really WOWED you, and exceeded expectations.


About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on May 2, 2012, in Leadership, Sales, Sales Results, Success, Team Work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great Post! Love the “the freak-out resolution”! I’ll have to give that one a try. I personal HATE poor customer service! Being in sales I see no reason that you can’t treat every customer the very best. No matter how big or small, do the right thing!

    Keep up the great writing as I am really enjoying your post!

    • Thanks Bruce! As time passes, it seems that customer service in general is getting more and more suspect. I came out of school working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car where customer service meant EVERYTHING! I appreciate you taking the time to comment as always…

  2. Wow. I’m a big fan of process and your wife’s experience makes me think that, for that associate, the pain involved in the process they would have to go through to help far exceeded the perceived benefit of your continued patronage.

    It should have been a no brainer to help and it sounds like process and policy got in the way of being of any use and value to you. Too bad.

    • Thanks again for taking the time to comment. Yeah, it was too bad. She was really just looking for them to show some interest in keeping us rather than just “making a note on our file”. Over a 6 year period, we spent a pretty good chunk of change with them. Thanks again and take care!

  3. I have worked as a waitress for the same family owned restaurant for 18 years. about 5 years ago I waited on an elderly gentleman. he said he had last been to our place about 10 years ago and had a pizza. the man ordered spaghetti and meatballs this time because he said the pizza was lousy. my employer wants to be informed of any complaints so i promptly related the above story to him. after the customer finished dining Nick(my employer) approached him to converse a bit. half an hour later this gentleman left with a free large pizza. Nick has always believed in excellent customer service!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Well I would chalk that up to a very cool story about customer service! To do that ten years later after a negative experience is awesome. Thanks for sharing..

Stop by & leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: