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‘Because of COVID’: The excuse that customers are tired of hearing

A recent study in the U.K. found that customers are done with businesses using COVID-19 as a blanket excuse

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A customer exits a corner market in Manhattan borough of New York.

This Friday May 14, 2021, file photo shows a customer exiting a corner market while wearing a protective mask in the retail shopping district of the SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan borough of New York.

John Minchillo, Associated Press

Customers are tired of hearing COVID-19 as an excuse for poor service, according to a new study by the U.K. Institute of Customer Service. As reopenings begin, customers have become less understanding of the previously acceptable excuse.

  • From long call times to shipping delays to miscellaneous shortages, COVID-19 has been used to explain — or excuse — many frustrating customer experiences, said the BBC.

As lockdowns end in some parts of the world, the public’s willingness to accept coronavirus-related delays may also be ending.

Why are people tired of hearing the ‘because of COVID’ excuse?

Shortly after the pandemic began, customers accepted coronavirus as a reasonable explanation for issues in their customer service, said the BBC. Understandably, businesses were coping with the cascading effects of the crisis.

  • Now, however, customers have become dissatisfied with that explanation.

Customers now feel this excuse is being used inaccurately — that delays are not actually “because of COVID” but due to a company’s unwillingness to improve its customer support. The world is simply too far into the pandemic for customers to accept this as an excuse, reported Republic World, an Indian news outlet.

  • According to Jo Causon, the institute’s chief executive, per the BBC, “saying ‘because of COVID’ is not a good phrase. Organizations must not hide behind this blanket statement.”

Is COVID-19 a legitimate excuse for poor customer service?

Maybe, but maybe not. Coronavirus is still affecting societal functioning, especially with the more transmissible delta variant causing renewed lockdowns around the world, reported the Deseret News.

  • However, businesses have had a substantial period of time to adjust to lockdowns, remote work or other pandemic-induced changes, reported Republic World.

The new report encourages businesses to provide “honest, genuine communication at all stages,” per the BBC. The report also advises businesses to invest more in their customer support and improve people’s experiences.