Common Barriers to Effective Customer Service

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  • 0:03 Bad Customer Service
  • 0:49 Barriers to Good Service
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

What's holding back your customer service? In this lesson, you'll learn more about some of the common barriers to effective customer service and how each one can impact your business and bottom line.

Bad Customer Service

We've all been there: a service desk attendant who doesn't pay attention to your problem or a call to an 800 number that gets transferred three times with no resolution. Poor service can create a real problem for both customers and businesses. For customers, it can be a costly, time-wasting and frustrating experience, and for businesses, it may mean the loss of future sales due to an unhappy consumer.

What are the reasons that customer service may be less than ideal? As a customer service manager, Tony has a few ideas. He's made a list of several employees he's having issues with, and thinks he's isolated some of the most common barriers to effective customer service. Follow along to see which of Tony's employees is on the naughty list.

Barriers to Good Service

If you're trying to identify ways to improve your customer service, figuring out where you're failing might be a good starting point. Let's take a look at some problems Tony has identified in his own business that might be creating an environment of poor customer service:


Tony has gotten several complaints about Mary and her attitude of indifference, or lack interest, toward customers' problems. Customers can pick up quickly on a representative who has no interest or concern in their situation. While the problem may not be a big one to the employee, it was big enough to the customer for them to call your 800 number or visit your store. The type of interaction between a customer and an employee can make or break whether you retain or lose a customer. Indifference may also be a contributing factor to other employee issues such as sloppy work, an untidy work space, or lazy behaviors.


The first cousin of indifference is inattention, or distraction away from the workplace and the customers a representative encounters. That's Andrew's problem. Tony has observed Andrew sitting on the counter, leaving his work area, and finishing phone calls before waiting on customers.

Inattention makes customers feel like they're unimportant or that their concern is not valued. It also reflects poorly on your business to have employees who are distracted or are ignoring customers in their presence. Above all, as humans, we want to be heard and to have our feelings validated. In customer service, consumers expect their problem to be treated like the most important thing that's happening at that time and for a solution to be reached quickly.

Overly Scripted Communication

Tony's new call center has hit a few bumps in the road, and Tabitha is one of the primary culprits. It's not altogether Tabitha's fault, but due to faulty training and a customer service process that doesn't allow representatives to get right to the problem, some customers have hung up unhappy.

Part of the problem experienced in call centers is with communications that are too heavily scripted, or that too closely follow a pre-written script. Have you ever called an 800 number and answered the same three or four initial questions every time you call, when all you want to know is how to fix your problem? Over-scripted, canned conversations take away from a personalized, authentic service between a representative and the customer. Tony needs to work out a system that empowers employees to address problems, trust them to do so, and keep customers happy.

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