Four Things That Make Customers Miserable and What You Can Do About Them

I was having a problem with some software. This meant the dreaded call for help from a call center.

After searching the website, with no success, for a number to call for help, I emailed to get a number. Once I got a response, I reluctantly dialed and got through to a nice young lady who asked me about my problem. I explained everything and then, as if I had been on mute during my explanation, she asked me if I had rebooted my laptop. She then asked a whole slew of questions about everything I had experienced—some of which I had already detailed in my explanation.

My frustration was slowly building when she offered to email me a one-sheet with a step-by-step solution. Excited, I said thank you, hung up, and eagerly awaited the email that would deliver me from software hell.

Unfortunately, the “solution” did not work. I went through it twice with no luck. This meant another call.

This time I got another rep who asked me about my problem—again. This necessitated another long explanation followed, once more, by the question as to whether I had rebooted my laptop. I then, somewhat bitingly, asked if they had heard my story because I had detailed everything from reboot all the way to their so-called “solution.” The abrupt response from the rep was that they were required to ask certain questions. It was becoming obvious that they were growing annoyed with me as they got snarky as we went through more things—which, by the way, did not work. At this point, my exasperated rep explained that they had exhausted their abilities and would need to escalate my problem to a higher power.

Now feeling like I was just a bother, I was put on hold, and then, after about 10 minutes, was connected without any introductory handoff, to a new, even snarkier rep. They, as I am sure you’ve guessed by now, began by asking me about my problem to which I somewhat angrily recounted everything—again. The rep then bluntly offered to email me a “solution” that would ensure success because it presented successive steps that whittled away one problem after another.

Having been down this road before, I protested a bit asking if it were possible to go through the steps together so that I would not have to call back if things didn’t work. They coldly told me they could not do that and that the steps they were sending would work. Not wanting to waste any more time, I reluctantly said thank you and ended the call.

Fortunately, I got the new solution sheet, and, after going through the first two steps carefully, solved the issue. However, none of the joy of solving the problem made the overall experience better, it was, to say the least, awful. It made me literally hate this company.

Why though? I got a solution. The people did the best they could. Well, the product proved difficult, the website proved difficult, the process proved difficult, and the people proved difficult. All terrible.

This is a great example of four things that I see over and over in customer experiences that make it miserable.

These four things are:

  1. Multiple calls
  2. Multiple contacts
  3. High effort
  4. Repetition

Let’s look at each of these.


Customers want to get things done as efficiently as possible. It is not the goal of any customer to spend their time solving problems. What they want is to use and enjoy products to get the jobs done they want done.

In the case of my experience, I had to send an email and then make two calls. A waste of my time that took away from other things I wanted to do.


Much like the dislike for multiple calls, customers do not want to have to work with multiple people, they want one point of contact. The expectation, in a perfect experience, is that if multiple people need to be involved, they get involved backstage and out of customer view. Customers want to talk to one person who manages all the components necessary to get things accomplished.

In my case, I had four contacts. Once on email (anonymous), and then three reps on phone calls. Each new person just added to my feeling that I was being thoughtlessly tossed around from one incompetent to another. Not a good billboard for any business.


Every time you ask a customer to do something, you are asking them to do work, and each time you ask them to do work you make customers wonder why they are paying for your service. I mean if I, the customer, am doing the work, why shouldn’t I get a discount? In fact, why should I pay at all?

My example had numerous instances of high effort. I had to call, I had to explain, and I had to perform various tasks to try to solve things, not to mention all the effort involved in dealing with visibly annoyed reps. All in all, it was exhausting.


Customers should not have to repeat a story over and over. We live in a technological world with more ways to communicate and store information than ever before. Yet, it seems we cannot record customer stories and have them at hand so customers can achieve their goals quickly and easily. Mindboggling.

In my debacle, I had to repeat my story no less than three times. Too many? I think so. Acceptable? No way.


Well, you have probably got a pretty good sense of how my experience impacted my thinking. Over the course of it all, many things ran through my mind:

  • You don’t care about me
  • Your company doesn’t care about customers
  • You don’t listen
  • You are incompetent
  • Your company is incompetent
  • You guys need to get your shit together
  • You’re wasting my time
  • You are idiots
  • I will never do business with you again

I feel certain these are not uncommon thoughts of customers dealing with the never-easy processes of so many companies. And maybe you care, or you don’t, but I would think the last entry on my list of thoughts might at least make you sit up and think, at least a bit.

If your customers are experiencing anything like the example I recounted and they are having thoughts that might lead them to defect, you should be concerned. If there is one customer feeling that way, there are probably many, many more. If there are enough, you could be in serious trouble as a business.


While there is no quick or one-size-fits-all solution, I do know at least one thing that would kick start change. Leaders of your business need to get up off their butts and go out and experience what customers experience. They need to feel the pain and see how ridiculous things are. From there, they need to stir things up and take action. Make problem solving a one-stop-shop. One call, one contact, one explanation, and as little customer work as possible. That is how it should be. Easy.

It’s time to get to work.

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