Top 9 Customer Service Mistakes

Top 9 Customer Service Mistakes
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Classic example of a company making 9 major customer service mistakes in a row.

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This is a classic example showcasing the problems of support services within a larger company, this time in the Microsoft Corporation. Within a single support session, watch how they make 10 of the biggest mistakes possible in the world of customer service. While many of these issues are common to bigger companies, it's important for small businesses to take note on what to avoid.

The scenario here was simple. I made a purchase from the Microsoft Store website which happened to be for the Forza Horizon 3 game for Xbox One (see Forza Horizon 3 Review if you'd like our review of that game). While this is an Xbox game, the purchase was made at the Microsoft Store website since they had a promotion for a free $10 USD gift card / code to use on future purchases.

As promised, I got an email several days after the release of the game. The problem is that the email only had a partial code so when I tried to redeem it, it didn't work. It was only 7 characters of the 32 or so needed. All I had was an email I couldn't reply to, so that's mistake number one when handling customer service. Don't make it tough for the customer to contact you!

Since this was a MS Store purchase, not purchased from, and the promotion was through the MS Store I went to their website and used their support system. Unfortunately, there was no option to email them so I had to either go the phone or online chat route. This is mistake number two, give the customer the option of email. It's much easier to type up my problem, send it to you, and deal with your reply on my own time that way. So chat it is.

If you're going to have a chat system then it's important to make sure the "chatter" can type quickly. In my case, I got a hold of "Janice S" who was incredibly slow when typing. At times I was waiting 3-5 minutes just to get a reply to a simple question that didn't require her looking up information. The entire chat was a good 30+ minute process. So that was mistake number three.

I typed in my issue, including what the email told me to do. It was very clear and I figured this was an easy fix. So this is mistake number four. Apparently, Janice wasn't able to see my order history and promotional information so what I was telling her wasn't as clear as I had hoped.

Instead, Janice saw the keyword "Xbox" and knew it was time to pawn me off on Xbox support instead. She immediately told me to wait a bit while she generated and SRX. And wait I did, for a long time. I assumed and SRX was like a new code. Nope, turns out it's a number that identifies me and my issue when I call support. So she basically just tried to pawn me off on Xbox support. Never pawn customers off on other departments, own their problems!

I wasn't having that so I explained that my issue is with the MS Store and not an Xbox issue.

After many more replies and endless delays from Janice, at which point I still thought she was working on getting me the proper code. I find out she can't help me. So this is mistake number five. If you're going to put agents on the phone or in a live chat make sure they have the power and tools to help customers.

I had to keep making my point that this was not an Xbox issue and all she wanted to do was argue with me. Even linking me to various policies that didn't apply to my situation. That's mistake number six. Don't argue with the customer. Find a way to help no matter what. Even if you really think I am wrong, don't argue with me. Put me on hold, get a supervisor, do something to fix the problem. If you can't fix the problem, you are the problem.

As this point I was getting a little peeved. Not actually mad, but irritate at the ignorance taking place here. Support should never, ever work like this. I asked for email addresses for somebody who could help but Janice wouldn't give me any. I asked for her supervisor to join the chat and she ignored that request many times.

I pushed the supervisor request many more times, finally at least getting an answer as you can see above. But I was denied. This is mistake number seven. If your customer asks for somebody higher up, then go get somebody higher up. Period. It's the customer service equivalent to a suspected criminal "lawyering up". Stop all communication and get the supervisor. That's what supervisors are there for. They have more power to make things happen. If they can't, then you keep going up the chain.

At this point, I was only documenting my issues for this blog post. I told Janice as much and she basically gave me a "we don't care, do what you want" reply. Fair enough, I am sure I deserved it actually. But that's mistake number eight. Never, ever throw back at the customer. That old saying of "the customer is always right" isn't at all true. Not even close. But the customer is who pays your paycheck and you don't bite the hand that feeds. You don't need to take abuse from a customer, but you don't fight back with them. Ever.

I never did get the name of her supervisor. And after me asking a few more times she ended the chat in what I assume was a super hard mouse button click, the computer version of a phone slam. That was mistake number nine. Unless you're being abused, you need to grow up and resolve the situation rather than running away from it. I wasn't making unreasonable demands. I was owed a "thing" from a company and I just wanted that thing. I was making reasonable requests of wanting an email for somebody who could help, to chat with her supervisor, that supervisor's name, etc.


Instead, in a single phone call with Microsoft support I was able to document a full nine things they did wrong in a single chat event. As for that $10 code? Well, chances are good I'll never see it now. It's not worth calling Xbox support as they'll likely blame MS Store and send me there. Honestly, it's not worth my time to try at this point. So I don't have further options. It is possible Microsoft goofed on many emails and this issue may resolve itself once they figure that out. Even there, they could have taken my chat as a sign of a bigger problem and looked into it properly but they chose not to.

So what does this do to me, a loyal Microsoft customer? Well, I'll probably continue to buy Xbox games every now and then but certainly never from the MS Store ever again. If I don't buy direct they're losing a small cut they have to give to the retailer instead. But how far does this irritation go? I've bought several Microsoft computers (see Product Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 2) from the MS Store but now I'll be sure to buy Surface Pro's at (affiliate link) instead (where they're cheaper I've found!), or maybe I'll try another brand next time. See, this is the sort of stuff that goes through your customer's mind. No matter how big you are, terrible customer support can hurt your company.