Do Customers Put Up With Poor Customer Service, and If So, Why?

Customers do nothing in the face of poor service, which is why we have so much of it

Do Customers Put Up With Poor Customer Service, and If So, Why?

This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of customer behavior, that leads companies to make bad decisions about the levels of customer service they provide, at least in terms of business results.

The answer is YES. Customers put up with poor customer service every day. In fact, it’s so prevalent that it’s likely that you continue to go back to the same businesses that drive you crazy. During the last week you’ve probably visited a business that has fallen down on the job. Yet you DO return.


It’s actually not that tough a question. While customers (and that means you and I) talk about, and tell survey makers that customer service is critical to your shopping, there are other factors that “trump” customer service.

Customers are driven by other wants and needs, not the least of which is convenience (location, location, location) and price in addition to how they are treated. Very often, a person will return to a store he or she doesn’t even like because it’s closer, or more convenient or cheaper.

Do they complain? Yes, sometimes. Do they tell friends? Yes. Do they say things like “I’m never going back there”? Yes. Do they go back? You bet.


Is there evidence? Indeed there is. To understand customer behavior you have to look at what people DO, and not what people say they do. When you look at companies that are traditionally ranked as the worst for customer service, year after year, what you see is companies that are thriving, have done so for years, and do well financially. Customers ARE mad at them, but they continue to give them money because it’s easier, more convenient, cheaper, etc.

Or, consider the companies that have made poor customer service a feature — the no-frills kind of companies that promise lower prices in exchange for less service. These companies always do well because customers, while they say they want better customer service, actually vote with their wallets.

Finally, consider your own behavior. In the last 3 days, have you gone back to an establishment that offended you because of their poor customer service? I’m betting you did.

Author: Robert Bacal

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