Customer Service – The Cost of Mistakes


Have you calculated how much your customer service costs you? Do your Customer Service Officers (CSOs) know how to make the best use of time?

The concept of sales coaching, in an effort to reinforce the information learned during training and facilitate changes in workplace behaviour, is gaining more momentum. And industry feedback reveals some businesses still need to do more.

In August 2020, the KONA and HBB Group coached over 500 salespeople virtuallyHowever, it is important to understand that sales is not the only area where coaching has a key role to play.

In fact, coaching your staff in the art of customer service is every bit as important. Without doing so, you are unlikely to put together a truly customer-orientated workforce, increasing the likelihood of customers having bad experiences. That, in turn, can have some serious consequences for your business.


Most businesses recognise that delivering good customer service is now a prerequisite for success.

Indeed, customers are more demanding than ever before in this area. Also, the level of customer service that would have once provided a competitive advantage is now considered to be the bare minimum expectation.

It is, therefore, best to assess the importance of customer service by looking at the cost of failure.

One of the KONA Groups clients – American Express, in a survey found: 78 percent of customers have backed out of an intended purchase.

Why? Due to poor customer service.

Meanwhile, 67 percent have hung up the phone because they could not reach a live agent.

Crucially, it is not just the affected customers that may be lost. Research published by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs states “news of negative customer service reaches twice as many people as news of positive customer service”. This means, failure in this area can do catastrophic damage to a company’s reputation.


Good customer service need not be complicated. In truth, despite customers having higher expectations than in the past, their demands are still all perfectly reasonable and achievable.

For example, in 2019, a HBB Group global survey revealed the single most important quality was “competent CSOs who could listen and empathise”.

The other main trend revealed customers do not want to have to wait ages for help. Again, this is a reasonable expectation. But when we speak to our customers, there is one common issue. Three quarters of all customers believe it currently takes too long to reach a person capable of assisting them.

What does this mean? That the focus of your customer service development should be on providing your staff with a detailed product knowledge and ways to reduce waiting times. Add in personalisation, such as insisting that staff actually use customer’s names, and you are well on your way. 

Also, the cost to the organisation on not obtaining and recording accurate information can put undue pressure on the business. It also significantly heightens the customer’s frustration level. In a recent study conducted by The KONA Group while coaching 172 CSOs, it was found that one mistake caused 20 minutes to fix! If you amortise this – the time to the organisation is 1,964 days of productivity. That is an approximate cost of $765,000.


Businesses that invest heavily in customer service training may wonder why ongoing coaching is required? The same answer applies to sales training and sales coaching. The role of a coach is to work with staff on a personal level, help them identify areas of weakness. Then, teach them to put their knowledge into action.

“Coaching is an interactive process that helps the other person improve, learn something new or take individual performance to the next level” explains Garret Norris, CEO of The KONA Group and author of Build a Healthy Business”. “It is often an under-realised tool with which you can get the most out of your employees.”

In order to optimise your customer service, you are likely to have to need to make certain changes. That includes, reducing waiting times and personalising the customer experience. This requires staff to not only learn new ideas, but to actually use the information on a daily basis. Put simply, if you want to make improvements to your customer service, you cannot afford for them to revert back to old habits.

At The KONA Group, we offer a customer service coaching courses, learning how to develop talent and give feedback, with a view to improving performance and productivity, and in turn result in a strong ROI.

Contact KONA for Customised Customer Service Training 1300 611 288 | for a confidential conversation today.