1 Solution to Prevent 19 Causes of Poor Customer Service

by | Customer Service


Here are some common issues related to poor customer service.

Shift starts at 9:00? Better be at my desk at 8:30 to login and reopen all of the tabs I need. Coworker needs help with a difficult issue? Thank goodness my customer seems calm and can hold for a few minutes while I research a completely different issue.

Each day at work, many customer support agents have these thoughts, they waste paid and unpaid time “filling in” a Bingo Sheet full of customer service problems.


You might be afraid to admit your team can win this game of Bingo in more ways than one.

How many problems on the following list can you admit happen on your support team?

9 Industry Leaders Already Delivering on the Promise of GenAI Read these GenAI success stories to learn from industry early winners!

19 common causes of poor customer service

  1. Transfer a customer to the wrong department…on purpose
  2. Waste 15 minutes searching through files only to come up empty handed
  3. Ask customer-facing chat support a ‘hypothetical’ question to resolve your own ticket
  4. Copy and paste information to the wrong chat
  5. Spam coworkers on Slack or Teams for help
  6. Leave a customer on hold for 15 minutes because of unresponsive supervisors
  7. Ask a customer 10 questions and realize you only needed to ask one
  8. Miss a policy update and provide wrong information
  9. Panic when working with a difficult customer
  10. Place a customer on hold to help a coworker
  11. Get lost in a sea of tabs and forget what you’re looking for
  12. Provide a ‘blurred answer’ to a customer if you’re not 100% sure
  13. Use your company’s self-service portal to find information
  14. Provide wrong information
  15. Physically run to a supervisor for help
  16. Forget to make a sales pitch after resolving an issue
  17. Reveal sensitive company information
  18. Submit a ticket to the wrong department
  19. Triple check with a supervisor to avoid being held responsible

What causes poor customer service?

Lack of speed and inaccurate information are two of the biggest causes of poor customer service, two problems many contact centers still struggle to improve.

In a chat queue, customers’ patience wears out after 10 minutes of waiting. For voice, the priority channel for more complex queries, customer’s typically will not wait on hold longer than 90 seconds.

While all these numbers put a large burden on the shoulders of agents, your company’s knowledge infrastructure has a big impact on many customer service metrics.

Employees will scavenge for information across internal communication channels, the internet, and up and down the office if they don’t have an easy-to-use and reliable source of information.

Customer service complaints can impact morale if left unchecked

Customer service complaints can lead to a bevy of problems for agents—especially if managers don’t know how to solve these problems.

Here are a few common problems agents face if customer complaints won’t stop:

  • Stress as a result of a poor workflow; poor systems and knowledge will decrease performance and lower job satisfaction over time
  • Inefficacy — a top stressor for contact center agents and results in high agent attrition and burnout at work
  • Turnover—Large call centers report a staggering turnover rate of 44%, with 27% of agents not even passing the entry-level. Few people are able to cope with the constant stress and frustrations of the fast-paced customer support environment.

Modern knowledge management: the solution to poor customer service

Many poor customer service issues can be solved with better knowledge, and a better process to distribute this knowledge. If you use an outdated knowledge base, or software that can’t efficiently guide agents to information they need, don’t expect agents to deliver an answer quickly—much less the right answer. You need a truly modern knowledge management solution to help agents and customers find the right answer in seconds…not minutes.

Here are a couple common knowledge management mistakes you may be making:

  • You utilize too many resources to store information. → Agents are forced to keep 15-20 tabs open and need to run numerous searches in order to access required information.
  • You distribute updates in communication channels. → Agents don’t trust the documents and search for updated information in internal chats, double-check information and provide “blurred” answers to avoid responsibility.
  • Your FAQs lack structure and clear guidelines. → Agents keep creating wrong tickets or transfer customers to the wrong department.

Implement Agent Assist once you solve your knowledge problem

You must crawl before you walk, and the same is true with technologies like Agent Assist. To surface answers using AI (no searching required), you first must solve your organization’s knowledge problems with a source of truth that integrates with your support channels, leverages AI to improve recommendations, and is easy to use.

Agent Assist technology can intelligently surface answers from your knowledge source in real-time using AI—during live chat or live phone conversations with customers.

Instead of searching for information, agents can focus on your customer’s needs – whether that’s master analyzing data, fixing complicated issues or up-selling your product or service.

Agent Assist (among other benefits a modern knowledge source offers) can be one of the best tools in your toolbox that put an end to common problems agents struggle to improve—like speed.

Take the next step to solve your customer service problems

To take the next step and solve many of your organization’s customer service problems for good, download our Shelf Platform Overview. This free guide outlines how Shelf’s next-generation knowledge platform helps brands like HelloFresh deliver unmatched customer service, and why better knowledge makes all the difference.

This post was updated on May 27, 2022 to reflect industry best practices.

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