By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

Throughout the years, we at Telephone Doctor have gathered up all sorts of information using surveys and finding things that frustrate customers. From these lists we have been able to bring you the vignettes in all of our training programs. DVD’s and On line. And that’s what makes Telephone Doctor programs so ‘real.’ It’s because they are. The segments produced aren’t ‘made up’ – they’re from YOU. Things, events and situations that have happened to you, me or we have witnessed.

Often times I’ve had things happen in a service situation that I know if we produced, people would think, “Oh no, nothing as bad as that could ever happen.” But we know it does, right? Some of those things I’m pretty sure have happened to YOU as well.

So, this month we are re-running our list of top Customer Service NO NO’s; a combination of things the customer doesn’t like.

I’m sure there are more; however, these rank as the top 15.

  1. Employees are having a bad day and their foul mood carries over in conversations with customers. (Everyone has bad days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)
  2. Employees hang up on angry customers. (Ironclad rule: Never hang up on a customer.)
    Not returning phone calls or voice-mail messages, despite listing your phone number on your Website and/or in ads and directories. (Call customers back as soon as you can, or have calls returned on your behalf.)
  3. Employees put callers on hold without asking them first, as a courtesy. (Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold; very few will complain or say, “No way!”)
  4. Employees put callers on a speakerphone without asking them first if it is OK. (Again: Ask first, as a courtesy.)
  5. Employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with customers on the phone. (A telephone mouthpiece is like a microphone; noises can easily be picked up. Employees need to eat their meals away from the phone. And save that stick of gum for break time.)
  6. You have call waiting on your business lines, and employees frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls. (One interruption in a call might be excusable; beyond that, you are crossing the “rude” threshold. Do your best to be prepared with enough staff for peak calling times.)
  7. Employees forget to use the words “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” (Please use these words generously, thank you.)
  8. Employees hold side conversations with friends or each other while talking to customers on the phone or they make personal calls on cell phones. (Don’t do either of these.)
  9. Employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.)
  10. Employees do provide more than one-word answers, but a lot of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that many customers don’t understand. (For example, don’t casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.)
  11. Employees request that customers call them back when the employees aren’t so busy. (Customers should never be told to call back. Request the customer’s number instead.)
  12. Employees rush through calls forcing customers off the phone at the earliest opportunity. (Be a little more discreet. Politely suggest that you’ve got the information you need and you need to move on to other calls.)
  13. Employees obnoxiously bellow “What’s this in reference to?” effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests. (Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and finesse. If a caller has mistakenly come your way, do your best to point him or her in the right direction.)
  14. Employees freely admit to customers that they hate their jobs. (This simply makes the entire company look bad. And don’t think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment won’t get back to the boss.)
  15. There are so many more….. have your own Customer Service ‘NO NO? email to
Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.