why customer service is so bad

Why Customer Service is So Bad without Humans

User AvatarMike Hilverda

In today’s digital age, it can be a real pain in the neck to find a phone number on a company’s website when you’re having a problem with a product or service. And let’s be real, actually getting to talk to a human? That feels like finding a needle in a haystack!

Why is it that some companies don’t seem to care if you get to talk to a real person or not? Especially when data suggests 25 out of 26 unhappy customers will simply give up and stop doing business with you rather than complain directly to your company because of the lack of customer support.

It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Many companies these days are all about automation. They love those fancy automated systems that promise efficiency and cost savings. But here’s the catch: those systems often prioritize speed over human connection. So, finding a simple phone number to call and talk to a real person becomes a frustrating scavenger hunt.

Moving to a fully automated chatbot system for customer service may sound enticing to businesses looking to cut costs, but many consumers across the U.S. and U.K. are concerned about not having the option to talk to a real person when needed. About 60% of users stop using a chatbot simply because their problem is too complex for AI’s cookie-cutter solution.

Truth be told, many companies are actually playing hide-and-seek with their contact information. They intentionally bury it deep within menus, force you to navigate through endless website pages, or push self-service options like nobody’s business. They’re actively trying to reduce the number of calls they receive and encourage you to figure things out on your own.

But what about good old-fashioned human help?

what is customer service

No Humans, No Understanding

Automation is great for some things, but it’s not so great at understanding your unique problem or showing empathy. It gives you pre-determined responses that might not cut it for your specific situation. And let’s face it, that lack of personal touch can leave you feeling frustrated and unheard. Navigating a loop of unhelpful menus also wastes a ton of time.

We’ve all been there: stuck dealing with a frustrating phone tree or chatbot, feeling like you’re wasting precious time that could be better spent on finding a resolution to your problem. You just want someone who understands your situation and can offer a solution tailored to your needs. That’s where the human touch shines.

But lack of human understanding isn’t stopping companies from pursuing AI-generated advice, hoping to bridge the gap between automated, cookie-cutter responses and the need for a real human on the other end of the conversation. Responses are mixed on whether this is helpful. Not surprisingly, the more complex a customer’s problem, the more need for human understanding.

Real people have the ability to listen, ask the right questions, and provide that much-needed empathy. They can think on their feet, adapt to unique scenarios, and come up with creative solutions that automated systems simply can’t match.

Sometimes, you have no choice but to settle for being lost in the labyrinth of automation. But other times, you can choose to seek out the warmth and expertise of a human representative who can truly make a difference and give you the support you’re looking for.

Why are Companies Doing This?


Automated systems help businesses cut costs by reducing the need for a large customer service team. But here’s the thing they might be missing: investing in human interaction can actually be a competitive advantage. Those companies that make it easy for you to find a phone number and connect with a real human understand that building strong customer relationships is worth its weight in gold. High-quality customer support can heavily impact retention and loyalty.

One interesting finding worth noting from PwC is that customers are more likely to spend more and be more comfortable sharing more data with brands that offer a great customer experience. Companies that focus on customer support could charge up to a 16% premium on their products or services and have all-around better insight on 63% more of their customers.

why is customer service so bad

What’s the Cost of Humanity

Let’s be real and a little bit fair because the thing is customer service is an investment—and put plainly—it’s costly. When done right, the ROI, while hard to measure, can be monumental.

Cost #1: Staffing

First off, delivering top-notch customer service requires people, and people don’t come for free. Companies need to hire and train a dedicated customer service team who knows the ins and outs of their products or services. These folks are the frontline warriors, the problem solvers, and the friendly voices on the other end of the line. But hiring and training these skilled individuals comes with a cost.

Small- to medium-sized businesses have an advantage here because people are one of the most difficult things to scale when it comes to customer service and support. There is a reason why large organizations are guilty of not letting you talk to a real human: staffing costs add up.

Cost #2: Technology

Now, let’s not forget about technology. Providing efficient customer service often involves investing in advanced systems and tools. Companies need to set up communication channels like phone lines, live chat platforms, and email systems. They may also implement customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep track of interactions and ensure smooth operations. All of these technological goodies come with a price tag.

Again, the larger the organization, the more costly it can be to give every customer support representative the tools, training, and resources they need to provide exceptional customer care. After all, at a small business, the owner may only need one phone line and a part-time employee.

Cost #3: Competition

And of course, the costs don’t stop. Customer service isn’t just about solving problems. It’s about going above and beyond to make customers feel valued and satisfied. That means companies may need to offer perks, like extended support hours, multilingual assistance, or even personalized experiences. These extra touches require resources and manpower, which can drive up the cost of providing exceptional customer service.

It’s always possible to operate with the bare bones when it comes to customer service, even when humans are at the forefront, but it’s easy to be outpaced by competitors if you do. Competition can be a real driver of cost, eating away at ROI, but it’s not about to go away.

Cost #4: Expectations

And let’s not overlook the ever-increasing customer expectations. People want fast responses, personalized attention, and seamless experiences. Meeting these demands often means investing in training, infrastructure, and ongoing improvements to keep up with the ever-evolving customer service landscape. These efforts require financial resources to ensure customers receive the level of service they expect.

The cost of expectations is part staffing, part technology: driven by increasing competition. In a way, if a business decides to slow down or not invest in customer service, they are setting themselves up for failure, although it may not be apparent at first.

“Today, we live in a society where the expectations are rising by the brands. Just think about the commercials. They promise you the world … and then the objective reality hits. And you try to reach customer service. And you are met with a bot. You are met with wait times … that’s really where the chasm is. This gap between expectations and objective reality just continues to get wider and wider.” —Amas Tenumah, author of Waiting for Service: An Insider’s Account of Why Customer Service is Broken and Tips to Avoid Bad Service

talk to human

It’s Worth It to Long-Term Businesses 

A product or service is only as good as the customer support that surrounds it. Long-term businesses understand that spending money on human-focused, automation-supported customer service teams is the best approach for staying competitive without sacrificing retention and loyalty on the altar of saving a few bucks (okay, maybe more than a few, but that’s short-sighted).

How Things Stand

Customers are tired of searching high and low for a phone number; they miss connecting with an actual person who can listen, understand, and help them out: it’s time for companies to strike a balance. Businesses need to be transparent and make it easy for you to reach them. And hey, investing in well-trained customer service representatives who can provide that personal touch will only make customers happier and more loyal in the long run.

While it’s true that automation is a necessary part of modern business, a little human interaction goes a long way in this digital age. So, use the chatbot (for what robots do best), but never stop giving customers clear opportunities to talk to real people!

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