Your personal customer dissatisfaction story

There are a million ways that you can write a post about customer dissatisfaction and I am sure almost all of us can relate to this topic very well and have been there at many points in our lifetime.


When customer dissatisfaction occurs, the primary goal of front line employees is to immediately assist in the resolution process and recover the trust of the customer in any way, shape or form. This usually starts with some element of calm and then work to compensate the customer and further resolve the matter that would be most appropriate. Is it all happy smiles from there? I think the most frustrating experience is to be held on a call for a longer than expected duration. Who can relate to this? Holding for someone on the other end to assist you and take your matter seriously. Organisations go to great effort to train their service desk staff to assist customers with this, to be friendly, while dealing with difficult customers and escalation processes but there is always that one call when you stay on the line for longer than expected – only to be greeted by someone that appears to be unhelpful. In complete frustration, you end the call.

Most large organisations have developed Complaints escalation processes, such as the example in this link. It’s re-assuring for consumers and especially where there are external authorities that can assist you when your voice has faded. For the telecommunications industry, for example we have the Ombudsman

What is your personal horror story and experience with customer dissatisfaction? In situations where you have had to maintain your “coolness” has the organisation assisted to redress the problem, empathize with your situation and offer you a reward for the inconvenience? or do you have examples, where you have walked away to the contrary?

(Probably good to relate your comments to the experience itself, instead of bagging any organisations. Thanks).

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton


11 thoughts on “Your personal customer dissatisfaction story

  1. I found this interesting site that provides a list of statistics around bad word of mouth. What stood out for me was how it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. Yet everybody would have at least one bad experience each week. And then you’ve got the old saying of “News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience”.

    Have you heard of Moments of Truth? Coined by Jan Carlzon, a ‘moment of truth’ is a point of interaction where a customer can form a lasting perception of your quality of service. Consider this scenario:

    After an eight hour flight and an hour in a taxi, you finally reach the five star resort you booked for your long awaited holiday. At check-in you are welcomed by a string quartet, a glass of sparkling wine, personal service and you were shown to your room by a smiling and informative attendant who did not expect a tip for their services.

    The room is spacious with a king sized bed and a balcony overlooking the beach. The amenities at the resort are truly first class. They include a championship golf course, spa, gym, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, three 5 star restaurants, a child minding service and a wide range of tour options. You are paying top dollar but the facilities are well worth it.

    There were a few glitches though; probably no-one’s fault. Your first night you decide to have dinner at one of the 5 star restaurants only to be turned away from all three as they were full. Apparently, you should have been told at check-in to book early as the hotel restaurants were popular. On your second night, you make sure you book early, only when you arrive you are put into a small cubicle near the kitchen, almost as if you were an afterthought. Then you have trouble getting the waiter’s attention and ended up without drinks for most of the night. The food was good though.

    On your third day you decide to have a round of golf which turned out to be much more expensive than you thought. What was more, it ended up raining rather heavily from the fourth hole and by the ninth you are totally soaked. You ask if you can stop playing and get a refund as the course is practically unplayable. The attendant advises you that under club rules the course is not actually unplayable, so a refund is not possible.

    Aside from these frustrations, oh, and the cancellation of a tour you had wanted to go on, your stay was enjoyable with many highlights. Like the really friendly spa staff who made your time extremely relaxing.

    Did you get good customer service? Would you go back to this resort? Was it value for money?

    You see only you can answer this because customer service is judged by customers. It depends on what they value and perceive and their mood.

    So get it right!


  2. Yes I agree with you especially your last statement, to know the customer you need to be the customer. Some companies ensure that their staff “eat” their own products and not just sell them. There is probably a few examples in this case, one that comes to mind (only because it’s really fresh in my head) is if you pop in to the local Apple store, the Apple Genius support people are using iPad’s to assist with your issues. This is great because Apple staff will then feed back quality information and their bad experiences with a product to their development team. Every small step helps.

    I think survey’s have their place in life but personal attention is always a better outcome. I find it interesting that a 5-star multi-million dollar bling may opt for a email survey after you have checked out but a local car auto service business will follow up with a phone call.


  3. I have just had an experience related to customer dissatisfaction. It is about a telecommunication provider who I believe over-charged me. I called to clarify the situation. The operator was very polite and did all the things stated in the company manual. But the problem was not resolved. The worst part was that the operator was trying to sell me more things. The dissatisfaction level jumped from bad to worst. Then, I was politely asked to leave all contact details so that they could follow it up. You probably can tell, nothing happened. I then went to a store to talk with the shop manager who again was very polite and followed the instructions in the company manual all the way through. However, again, problems remain there.

    My feeling was that the frontline staff wanted to solve the problem. But they couldn’t because the system did not allow them to do more than what’s stated in the company manual. If the company were market oriented, things like this should not have happened. Empowering frontline staff to enhance satisfaction level and an introduction of an information system, which the frontline staff can retrieve all necessary information, should definitely be on the change manual of this company.


  4. Contrary to old saying ” Customer is always right” there is a new saying “No the customer is not always right”, sometimes consumers build very high expectations of the product or service which is difficult to fulfill by the company and in many cases this may be the prime cause of customer grievence. Therefore, the company has developed few standards such as ideal, predicted and adequate to measure reliably the expected standard of consumer and suppy it to him. Yes ofcourse companies are not able to deliver expected value level to the consumer many times and in such a situation companies should empower there frontline staff and itself be swift in taking action to address the cause of consumer grievence, as a lost customer can be 16 times to new costomer and 5 times in retaining it.


  5. In my experience, customer complaints can be lethal. One unsatisfied customer can lead to bad mouthing of the product and/or company and we don’t want that.

    Iacobucci argues that although a core product may serve its purpose, it does not imply that the customer will be satisfied (hygiene factor). And unfortunately, customers’ expectations and perceptions of a product are subjective and sometimes illogical. It is up to the frontline staff to have the appropriate skills to deal with the complaints and according to Brady and Cronin (Iacobucci), ‘empathise with the customer and offer a perk for their troubles’.

    In my experience, staff must be trained on how to deal with difficult customers, appease the situation or offer perks to do so. Long term brand reputation is at stake.

    Furthermore, trying to sell things on top of that (after a complaint), doesn’t seem to make any sense although some companies these days tend to think so. Do they really get anywhere or only drive customers away?


  6. Customer complaints can be put to very good use by companies. Some years ago a returned my phones and internet to one of the big telcos. I was told my connection fee would be waived as I was bundling landline, mobile and internet and returning to them. When I received my bill – of course it was a different matter and the fees I was told would be waived were listed on the bill. So I rang and expected the worst – that I would have to haggle it out over numerous phone calls. Instead this company had taken its poor customer after sales ratings seriously, and had a team of customer service people to assist me. Initially the team were based in an off-shore call centre but they transferred me to an onshore technician to complete the service call (there were 3 issues in total). It took 45 minutes overall but all my issues were resolved in that one phone call, including reversing the fees they weren’t going to charge me, and I was left rather impressed. Needless to say they do need to keep this up over the long run, but if they are serious about after sales service it could well be worth it to them. Word of mouth does sell and people do ask where you purchase from as a trusted source of information about products and services.


  7. Hi Raymond,

    Your blog relates to what I am doing in my work. I work in Quality department in a Food manufacturer and work closely with customer service team in our company. We have customer complaints escalation process as part of our Quality accreditation. Customer service team is the front line to handle the complaints. They give the first response and explanation to the customer within 24hours. Then they will pass on the information to me to investigate the complaints and give my investigation result back to the customer. Sometimes I have to be a customer service too to some of our customers. Being a customer service is not easy, it is HARD. Some customers are easy to handle and some are not. You have to be patient and calm when you are talking to them. These are the most important skills you have to have when you are being a customer service. You have to be careful too what you are going to say to the customers; you have to ensure you explain it properly to them and they are satisfy with your explanation.

    As what I have experienced so far, customer service is the front face of the business. They have to be able to soothe an angry customer and make this customer happy when they have finished talking to them. They have to make sure that customer will buy our product in the future. Sometimes you may require a customer service person that is good in talking – can open up conversation with customers. So far, our system works out well. We receive lots of good feedback from the customers and they said they will buy our products again. Good feedback indicates that you have a good customer service team.

    Receiving complaints does not always mean it is bad. It can give improvement in every aspect and verify that your process. When we receive a complaint or few complaints from the same batch, this indicates that we have a problem during that date of manufacture. We start investigating that batch by looking at all aspects of our process i.e. from paperwork to machinery to find the root cause of the complaint. After we find out the root cause of the complaint, we put corrective action in place. Corrective action means we improve and fix our process to ensure there will not be any similar complaints in the future.

    In a food industry, a complaint or a few complaints can trigger a food recall and this is the worst situation of a food company can face. A food recall can make you lose customer trust to your products or even lose your business. The recent big recall we just had and caused a big chaos was the Patties Foods Ltd—Nanna’s Mixed Berries and Nanna’s Raspberries and mixed berries ( This has caused about 18people that were diagnosed with Hepatitis A after eating this product.

    As a food manufacturer, we have to make sure we produce products that are safe to be consumed and give 100% satisfaction to the customer.


  8. Hi

    Thank you for your reply, that was a great realistic example from the other side of the fence. Yes I agree with you customer service is extremely hard because it requires additional skill sets that are often pressed. I also agree that not all complaints are bad. The only way we learn is through mistakes / feedback from our customers. The whole continuous improvement life cycle. I really like the idea let’s fix the problem for this situation first and foremost and then after that let’s focus on what could be done better and improve our processes that way, we can then return to the original customer and notify them that based on the situation and issue, “we’ve taken this on-board and made things better for the future”, perhaps here is something for the trouble you have experienced.


  9. Hello Raymond,

    I have worked in a customer service job for the last 7 years, and i could tell you thousands of stories about customer dissatisfaction and customer complaints, but my experience has taught me to always look at both sides of the service.

    As customers, we have a role to play too in the service encounter.
    It is absolutely astounding how some customers treat their service providers.
    Mc Donalds is a good example if you have ever been into one of their 24 hour stores late at night (particularly on friday and saturdays), where staff are frequently yelled at or abused by intoxicated-party goers or even have food thrown at them.
    Below is a link to a extreme example

    This doesn’t apply to all situations of course treating customers well is essential to business. But there should be a line where enough is enough, how much should we expect these service providers to put up with? Where do we draw the line?
    As humans, it is important to remember that we are all the same and that nothing gives one person the right to treat another so badly.


  10. I have found Telstra’s latest TV ads an interesting attempt to turn around the poor perception often associated with the telco’s. The ads show their staff going the extra mile with customer assistance and advise that you will always get the name of the person helping you in case more assistance is needed. Naturally they have avoided any negative associations and wording.

    It seems a little obvious to me and doubt that it will fool anyone. Time will tell.


  11. Customer service is an extremely important element of any business and companies need to swiftly resolve any queries/complaints that clients have or risk losing the clients altogether.

    Telecommunications companies usually have 24 hour call centers where they offer support to clients. However in my own country (Zimbabwe) it is notoriously difficult to get through to an actual person on the other end of the line. You keep getting repeated automated messages to keep holding and most of the time you just get frustrated and end the call before you get any assistance. Unfortunately in a country where you have a very limited choice of service providers, customers are almost forced to “take or leave” the service.

    A reason for this could be companies growing so fast that they simply cannot keep up and struggle to keep all their clients satisfied.


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