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Contact Center Hall of Shame

Contact Center Hall of Shame

While many companies profess concern for their customers, at least according to their ads, and others are making substantial investments in their service organizations, there are still too many that just don’t care. To quote an old Clint Eastwood movie title, we have “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in the world of service. It used to be that poor service could go unnoticed for a period of time, and had to be atrocious before it caught the attention of the news media and marketplace. In the early 2000’s, the “poster children” for extremely poor customer service were the telecom providers, although this has generally improved, despite the recently publicized “cramming” issues that have resulted in major fines and lawsuits. (Thank you J.D. Power!) Social media has altered the balance of market dynamics and empowered consumers to be heard. Nowadays, all it takes is one really poor service experience to capture the attention of the market, although a company’s reputation is truly harmed only after many incidents of bad service, as has been the case for Comcast and United Airlines. (Yes, I am aware that United recently received a top award for service – the people granting that award must not have been reading the blogs or flying their planes.)
To help companies appreciate what they shouldn’t do, DMG has created the 2014 Hall of Shame for contact centers. This list represents 11 of the worst or most annoying customer service and contact center practices. We invite you to send us your additions to this list.
  1. Mysterious fees – hitting customers with fees that are unanticipated, not approved, unexplained and not under their control. (This practice is referred to as “cramming,” and when caught by the Federal Trade Commission, results in major penalties.)
  2. Surprise buys – companies that use fine print to hide subscription renewals or service upgrades that come as a nasty surprise when they show up on the consumer’s credit card statement.
  3. Relentless up-sells – companies that push up-sells so hard that customers feel cornered and sometimes even threatened.
  4. Dead-end interactive voice response (IVR) systems – forcing callers to use an automated system that prevents them from speaking to a live agent.
  5. Clueless agents – putting agents on the phone who are not properly trained or fully prepared with the information they need to do their job.
  6. Rude agents – hiring the wrong people, and not teaching them that being nice is essential in a customer service role.
  7. Blaming the company – using “company policy” as an excuse to do nothing.
  8. Not listening to customers – agents who ignore what the customer says and requests, as they aggressively strive to achieve their performance goals.
  9. Using red tape to avoid helping customers – companies that make it so hard to get a refund or cancel your account that the caller just gives up.
  10. Speed not need – agents who rush the caller off the phone.
  11. “50 Shades of Green” – companies that wave the “green flag,” professing a commitment to environmental awareness, yet clearly not really doing their part, as they continue to send out a massive amount of paper-based communications.
Final Thoughts
Delivering an outstanding customer experience doesn’t happen by accident. The companies that are known and respected for delivering a great customer journey have a culture and leadership that are dedicated to their customers, and invest on an ongoing basis in their people and infrastructure to support the vision. No doubt, delivering great service is an art, but it’s one that can be taught and learned. Customer service really matters. Just ask your customers.
To share your ideas for the contact center Hall of Shame, please contact

Ask the Experts

What is the difference between total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI)?

Total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) are both financial metrics used to measure the value and rank of IT and other projects. But TCO and ROI are not the same thing, and have different strengths and weaknesses as decision-making tools.
TCO is simply the sum of all expenses, direct and indirect, related to an investment over a given time period. TCO costs include software licensing, depreciation related to hardware acquisition, installation and training, upgrades, maintenance, operating costs and support. These expense projections can be compared to the TCO for the status quo or other solutions. Think of TCO as the way to quantify the expenses and budget impact, over time, of various investment alternatives.

ROI is the term used for a group of financial metrics that assess the capital efficiency of investments and can be used to rank their attractiveness. The three ROI metrics most commonly used are:

  • Net present value (NPV) – takes the cash inflows from a project, less the related cash outflows, and adjusts for the time value of the money. If the sum of the present values for all of a project’s cash flows is positive, it is projected to more than cover its cost of capital, and therefore be a worthwhile investment.
  • Internal rate of return (IRR) – the rate at which the present value of all project cash outflows is equal to the present value of its inflows. This measures an implied rate of return for the project. If the IRR for a project is greater than the cost of capital, it is generally considered a worthwhile investment.
  • Payback period – calculates the length of time required for an investment’s net cash inflows to cover all of its initial costs. This shows how long it will take to get the invested money back, but ignores all benefits after the break-even date, and also ignores much of the timing of the cash flows.
Obviously, investment valuation metrics are complicated and require some expertise to interpret. If you’re looking for help in building a business case for a new investment, please reach out to Deborah Navarra at 516-628-1098 or

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at