Customer Service Problem Case Study

19 May No Comments

Customer Service Problem Case Study


Customer Service Problem Case Study

Every company has problems, and the main difference between the outstanding performers and the average companies is how well they react to arising challenges. Errors are common in businesses. In most cases, they lead to the negative customer experiences. Solving problems can be quite tasking for the customer care representatives. They have to maneuver between the policies of the company and the best interest of the customers. The AT&T Company is an excellent case study of the customer issues, due to there being numerous complaints regarding its customer service. Lastly discussed will be the problem-solving strategies that can be used to resolve customer issues and techniques to deal with difficult customers.

Company Overview

AT&T, a multinational company that offers services that include mobile phones, long distance phone services, and broadband internet to businesses and individuals. The company is based in Dallas Texas. In the telecommunications industry, AT&T is the world largest company. It is also the second largest provider of mobile telephone services. According to Coll (2017), AT&T’s position on customer satisfaction is that a customer is the most critical stakeholder for any business and that for a company to be successful, it needs to meet the needs of the customers. One of the critical values of AT&T is to build customer relationships that are strong and make sure that customers have effortless experiences with the company (Coll, 2017).

Customer Service Problem

One of AT&T’s core values is the building of strong customer relationships, and its pledge to improve customer service. No different from any other company, AT&T has continued to have significant customer service issues. Anyone who has been a customer of AT&T for a long time knows that the company is notorious for its service issues (Einwiller & Steilen, 2015). Some issues include dropped calls, poor coverage, and changes in iPhone data plans. Sometimes reasonable complaints about issues with the company’s services are ignored. In some cases, when the agents receive a customer’s call, they explain that another department will sort a problem and when the transfers start, one receives little help, if any is offered.

Many professional people use their landlines to participate in telephone conferences. People also depend on the internet services provided by AT&T to work at home. When AT&T fails to provide good wireless connection and other services as promised and the customer service providers who promise to sort out the issues fail, it becomes not only a personal inconvenience but also a professional inconvenience (Einwiller & Steilen, 2015).

Factors Contributing To Breakdowns in Customer Service

One factor that has led to the collapse of AT&T customer services is that the company’s customer care representatives have to follow particular protocols that are in the best interest of AT&T’s bottom line. Sometimes, the protocol may not serve the best interests of the customers, as the company seeks to gain profits (Yellin, 2009).

The second factor is the unwritten rules of engagement with a customer that determines whether the customer gets satisfied or not. Following the customary rules can mean the difference between getting proper support or even discounts for the trouble the customer has experienced or it can lead to a customer being stonewalled. An example of an unwritten rule is “customers will get support based on their attitude.” Customer service representatives encounter all kinds of attitudes and personalities from both employees and customer service professionals. Some customers can be rude, angry and make demands with a massive sense of entitlement. Many customer service representatives use an informal system of gauging the attitude of the customers (Yellin, 2009). They use the system to reward or punish the customer accordingly, sometimes, putting rude customers on hold on purpose.

Just as other companies do, AT&T places a numerical value on every customer based on how their account is or will continue to be lucrative. Brand new customers are assigned the number 0 but if they pay their bills on time, purchase expensive plans or phones, their number increases to a higher level. With number 5 being the highest possible level and is reserved for large business accounts that spend thousands of dollars annually. A customer with a high numerical value has a better chance of getting better customer service and better chances of getting discounts, credit, adjustments to bills or free phones. Using customer level causes a breakdown to customer service because it means that customers in lower levels are not valued, and the customer service providers will not try hard to keep them; hence they will offer them poor service (Yellin, 2009).

Recommended Techniques to Deal with Challenging Customers

The first technique of dealing with challenging or difficult customers is to be a good and empathetic listener. Talking over or trying to argue with the customers do not have a positive result. As a customer care agent listens, they get to build rapport with the customer (Rahimi & Kozak, 2017). One needs to put themselves in the position of the customer. By doing this, one shows empathy by understanding the source of their frustrations and showing that you understand their position and situation. Being able to identify the issue that the customer has, and the customer’s feelings help them to calm down. It is also essential for a customer service representative to get to control themselves when dealing with angry or rude customers. When the customer is complaining, displeased or angry, it is critical to gain self-control (Rahimi & Kozak, 2017). One should never allow such a situation to push their buttons and lose control. Let the customer vent and avoid blaming either the customer or the company. It is also critical to either solve the issue that the customer has or allow another person to solve it.

Strategies That Can Help Resolve Customer Service Issues

Solving problems that customers experience is not a single step process, and it requires many strategies. The first strategy involves understanding the point of view of view of the customer. One needs to listen carefully to understand their problem. The second strategy involves identifying what the problem is (Rahimi & Kozak, 2017). In some cases, the customers are not able to explain the problem they’re experiencing. The customers will not always understand the company’s jargon and processes. At this point, a customer care representative should ask questions to identify and troubleshoot the problem. The strategy of finding the causes of the problem follows suit. The objective of this strategy is to wade through the symptoms described by the customer.

One then needs to brainstorm for possible solutions that will be satisfactory for the customer. For example, if a customer demands a refund, one can come up with possible alternatives for the customer if offering a refund is not an option. For example, choosing another product if the refund is not possible could be an appropriate solution. The last strategy involves fixing the problem and following up on how the solution is working out (Rahimi & Kozak, 2017). An example of this is if a customer had an issue with a particular application, and a customer care agent suggested restarting the device with the application, it is critical for the representative to call back and find out if the solution was helpful.

In conclusion, all businesses make errors, and the errors can lead to the negative customer experiences. AT&T Company has been attributed to lousy customer care experience, and it offers excellent examples of factors that result in the breakdown of customer service. There are however strategies that customer care representatives can use to deal with challenging customers and solving their problems. It is always essential to be emphatic when dealing with customers and to be helpful by either resolving their issue or getting someone else to address the issue. Following up on whether the solution was useful shows that the company cares for the needs of the customer.


Coll, S. (2017). The deal of the century: The breakup of AT&T. Open Road Media.

Einwiller, S. A., & Steilen, S. (2015). Handling complaints on social network sites–An analysis of complaints and complaint responses on Facebook and Twitter pages of large US companies. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 195-204.

Rahimi, R., & Kozak, M. (2017). Impact of customer relationship management on customer satisfaction: The case of a budget hotel chain. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 34(1), 40-51.

Yellin, E. (2009). Your call is (not that) important to us: Customer service and what it reveals about our world and our lives. Simon and Schuster.

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