This is a story about poor customer service. The salesperson left a voice message to tell me his assistant had given me inaccurate information and he wanted to correct what I’d been told about their service. He also sent an email, so I replied to his email with a time when I could talk. I didn’t hear back until the next day when we set an appointment to talk. At the designated time, he hadn’t called so I called him. After going through questioning by his receptionist about why I was calling, she informed me that he was in a staff meeting and couldn’t make the call. I sent him an email and invited him to call at his convenience.

He called about a half-hour later and apologized for his previous meeting running long and not making his appointment with me. He then started in with a sales pitch for his company’s service. About five minutes into the call, he asked what my business was. He then tried to tailor my needs to the products and services he offered instead of designing a solution based on my needs.

A Lack of Respect

This salesperson made three critical mistakes that resulted in a poor customer service experience:

#1: He missed his appointment with me and kept me waiting. That told me that his previous meeting was more important than respecting our appointment.

#2: He didn’t respect me enough to do a quick Internet search to learn about my business.

#3: He tried to get me to adapt my plan to meet his needs.

Even if you think you’re not in sales, you are. If you work in IT in a corporation, your job is selling your end-users on the value of your IT department by the way you help them do their jobs more productively, efficiently, and creatively. If you are an engineer at an MSP, your job is selling your clients on the value you and your company provide by how you design systems and how you support your client’s employees.

Like it or not, we’re all in sales. It’s just that some of us are in post-sales where our work comes after the contract is signed. For us, selling involves constantly reassuring our clients that they made the right choice by contracting with our firm. We do that by keeping appointments, familiarizing ourselves with our clients’ business or, if we’re part of an internal IT organization, familiarizing ourselves with the work our end users do, and crafting creative technical solutions that meet the needs of our end-users, clients, and other customers. We certainly don’t do it with bad customer service!

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