How to handle yourself when faced with bad customer service

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Bad customer service

Being on the wrong end of a bad customer service experience can be stressful and frustrating, making you ask: ‘Why me?’ It happens to the best of us at times.

When the issue at hand isn’t your fault, and there’s no resolution in sight, it’s natural to lose your cool, as you’ve been passed on to the umpteenth customer service rep or put on hold for another eternity.

At this point, you have but two options. Either you smash your cellphone against the wall in frustration, or you can keep calm and check out our handy guide to handling yourself during bad customer service disputes!

📝 Tip 1: Details, details, details

When that dreaded realisation hits that you’re heading into the teeth of a customer service dilemma, grab a moment to take stock. Remember, the customer service representative isn’t a mind-reader. They can only act on the information you present to them. Which, of course, means details. 

What is the date, time and location of your negative customer service experience? Still have the receipt or order number? Did you keep any correspondence between you and the business? If employees or individuals are involved, for example a waiter in a restaurant or an attendant in a shop, ensure you have their full names on hand. 

Get into the habit of using your cellphone’s camera or audio recorder to note any details or factors that may bolster your side of the story. Screenshots are also your friend. Keep any email or text message exchanges relating to your problem, and remember the names of anyone from the company you’ve had conversations with.

A business owner or leader will often, and understandably so, give their staff the benefit of the doubt. To avoid any unpleasantness or a debate, make sure you have your story straight and the proof to back it up! 


🎯 Tip 2: What’s the end-game?

When you’re about to address bad customer service, first ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. In other words, what does a satisfactory outcome look like? Most people who log a complaint are really looking for acknowledgement and an apology. When you spend valuable time and money on a business or service, you deserve to feel valued and appreciated — especially when the business gets it wrong.

Think about it. How many times throughout your own customer journey would a simple, friendly, empathetic phone call from a manager have satisfied your blood-lust? However, if your goal is a refund or product exchange, craft your communications accordingly. Detail, with adequate proof if possible, the exact issue at hand, the processes and individuals you have communicated with in search of the resolution, and what you expect from the business.

Being specific about your expectations and your entire journey gives the business the appropriate context to consider your request. Remember, businesses often deal with hundreds if not thousands of customers daily. Offering a detailed picture of the situation allows them to act swiftly in search of resolution.

🧊 Tip 3: Keep your cool

Remember that you don’t want to cast yourself as a villain in the situation. We know that few things can be more frustrating than bad customer service. When faced with incompetence, indifference or carelessness, the natural reaction is to give in to our thirst for vengeance. This often means heading to the business’s site or social pages and unleashing curse words and threats.

While this may serve to satisfy our base nature, this approach is almost guaranteed to end badly. Trust us, verbally attacking people does not ever get them to see your point of view or motivate them to help you. Remember, most customer service representatives would have had nothing to do with your original purchase or experience. Many times, they are just as put out by their fellow employee’s mistakes as you are, as they are now the ones in the hot seat.

It may be difficult but try and maintain your composure during bad customer service disputes. However, the reality is that losing your cool often reduces the chances of resolution. Plus, it may even lead to them blocking you from engaging with their online pages. Or, in extreme cases, could lead to potential legal ramifications for defamation, slander or intimidation.

💬 Tip 4: Communicate via the right platform

Throughout our many years of experience, we can guarantee that businesses are more likely to respond to bad customer service complaints if you post them to high-traffic, high-visibility, public platforms like Hellopeter.

Businesses understand that today, up to 90% of customers check and research online consumer-written reviews before committing to purchases, especially when dealing with big-ticket items.

Hellopeter is Mzansi’s most trusted review platform for businesses and consumers. So, if you cannot seem to resolve the issue with the business directly, you might want to consider writing a public review. If you’re looking for a business to pay your bad customer service complaint the attention it deserves, posting a review on can work wonders. Hellopeter’s millions of visitors ensure businesses are motivated to get it right when addressing customer-specific issues.

However, remember that to ensure our platform remains a balanced, impartial review platform we do have certain filters in place. Familiarise yourself with them in our 10 Golden Rules to Posting on Hellopeter before you post your review.

Share your reviews on South Africa’s #1 online review platform

Have you had a bad customer service issue you’d like to resolve? Post your review on today and increase your chances of finding a fast, satisfying resolution. 

Did you know?

At Hellopeter, we’re always looking for ways to allow consumers and businesses to connect. Therefore, you can now write reviews in two ticks using our Hellopeter WhatsApp chatbot!


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