Maklay62 / Pixabay

P.T. Barnum supposedly once said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” While that apocryphal statement might hold water when talking about stars of reality television shows, it’s not true for businesses. A bad customer service experience is just a click away from being shared on social media, and the data backs that up: 95 percent of surveyed customers say they share bad service experiences to friends, family, or online.

The fear of negative publicity should motivate businesses to offer exceptional service, but time and time again, they forget the essential thing: customers decide how customer-centric businesses must be. Here are some examples of the results of bad customer service:

Waiting and more waiting

As Forrester points out in a recent customer study, stories about poor customer service abound. The most obvious example: making customers wait. When a company puts a customer on hold for too long or fails to resolve an issue in a timely manner, customers quickly lose patience. Then they tell their friends about the negative experience. Then they leave for a competitor.

Lack of respect

Bad customer service often stems from lack of respect for customers, be it changes to policies without providing adequate explanations or agents simply being rude to customers. Yet customers have made it clear that being treated with kindness is more important to them than having their issue resolved to their satisfaction. That lack of respect too often afforded to customers will eventually be reciprocated.

Social media gaffes

Customers expect companies to not only have robust social media presences, they demand that those channels provide help. Customers will often take companies to task on Twitter after a bad experience. If the company waits for a full-blown social media meltdown to respond, it’s already way too late. Too many companies fail to understand how damaging it can be to have social media agents respond too late, or inelegantly, in a public forum.

These customer-service missteps (or disasters, if you’re in public relations), share a common thread: a failure to understand and adjust to the customer-centric reality of the marketplace. Doing so endangers a company’s relationships with its customers, stunts its ability to attract new business, and hurts the bottom line.