Top 10 Ways to Lose Customers Over the Phone

You couldn’t live without your phone, could you? The average American spends 58 minutes a day talking on their smart phone. That’s 2 full weeks each year!

While phones are hard to live without, talking on the phone can sometimes be annoying – especially when it involves calling into a customer service with an existing frustation. 

Here are the 10 worst things callers experience when reaching out for customer support, and are sure to drive away your customers.

ways to lose customers over the phone

1: The Breather

There’s actually no reason for a long explanation here. All of us know the icky feeling you get when you’re on the phone with someone who decided to place their phone’s microphone right in their breath exhaustion corridor, making them sound like a creeper calling at 4am. Choose a better headset and avoid sounding like Darth Vader. 

Phone Queue


2: The Queue

You are now number 34 in line, the estimated hold time is 58 minutes. Why? Queues are great if they are no longer than 5 minutes – but it’s not an excuse to hire less staff. Do you really think an employee is going to talk to a nice and calm customer, after he’s been waiting in a queue for an hour with the same hold music only interrupted by two variations of a pre-recorded marketing message? 

Do your callers a favor and limit the hold time in the queue to 5 minutes.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Phone Support 

call center supporter

3: The Untrained Call Center Supporter

If you’re going to have a call center, invest time in thoroughly training your employees about your products – and if the caller is savvy, at least let him talk to a second or third level supporter immediately instead of having to go through a matrix of “did-you-plug-in-the-power-cord” questions.

4: The “Voice Recognizing” IVR

“Please say which department you would like to talk to”… That’s a great feature, if it works. Which it most often doesn’t. 

Set up a proper phone menu with a short list of options to choose from via the dialpad. 

Related: How to Set up a Phone Menu

5: The Loud Speaker

Take it down a notch, and back off from the handset just a tad. 

6: The Awkward Silence

We all know how horrible awkward silence can be. It’s even more awkward when you can’t see the person you’re talking to. This happens especially during conference calls.

Set an agenda for your scheduled calls and wrap it up quickly. People appreciate it when you respect their time. 

ways to lose customers over the phone

7: The Speakerphone

No, there’s no reason to put your cell phone on speakerphone – especially not when you’re walking down the street. And if you do, don’t hold the microphone end up to your mouth. See point #5.

8: The Dropped Call

Dropped calls are annoying – so get a carrier that works instead! The only thing that’s more annoying than a dropped call, is to be waiting in a queue for 58 minutes, finally getting through to the customer representative and THEN get a dropped call.

9: The “For No Reason” Call

If you don’t have anything to tell me, don’t call me. Yes, you might be bored or have to look like you’re doing something to your boss, but I’m busy and I value my time.

ways to lose customers over the phone

10: The Voicemail at the End of the Queue

See point #8 and #2… Waiting in a queue is annoying, and so are dropped calls. But waiting in a queue for 58 minutes and then getting a voicemail? That's how you lose customers. 

Josh Epstein has been providing high-quality technical support since the days of dial-up, and has worked at every level of the telecommunications industry. He currently serves as the first line of support for Telzio’s customers around the world, where he strives to provide heroic service.