5 Customer Service Lessons From Yahoo’s Missteps

customer service lessons

In the past eight months, I’ve had my Yahoo email account hacked four different times. Considering that I’m a pretty savvy internet user who knows about basic security practices, that’s pretty pitiful on Yahoo’s part.

Apparently, I’m not alone. Thousands of Yahoo account users have reported that their accounts have been compromised – even public figures such as Sarah Palin have had issues with their Yahoo accounts. Despite the fact that these matters have persisted for several months, Yahoo has been slow to address and fix them.

Could this be the reason Yahoo currently has 12.2 percent of the market share compared to 66.7 percent for Google? Is this part of the reason Yahoo’s traffic is dropping at an alarming rate?

Customer service is one of the many backbones of any business, and unfortunately Yahoo has failed to deliver theirs. Brands seeking to grow their place in the market would benefit from a lesson on Yahoo’s customer service missteps and, hopefully, Yahoo can recover.

5 Customer Service Lessons From Yahoo’s Missteps

Over Communicate

Yahoo has had a problem with email security since January 2013, so why has it taken them so long to address the issue?

The online world evolves at a breathtaking pace and online consumers similarly expect fast communication. Your online customer service should be quick and effective.

Make it Personal

One of the reasons Marissa Mayer was an exceptional choice as Yahoo’s CEO went beyond her qualifications – it’s her personality. She’s personable, a woman and she took a CEO job while pregnant. Unlike your typical CEO figure, Mayer is expected to breath new personality into Yahoo, and that excited investors.

Likewise, your customer service shouldn’t simply aim to solve and prevent consumer problems. Instead, target their emotions and a personal connection with them.

Broadcast Efficiently

When news broke of widespread email security breaches, why wasn’t Yahoo on the frontline warning users about the issue? Sure, they were probably trying to avoid negative publicity. But couldn’t they have at least warned us that something was going on?

For most of us, we didn’t realize that anything was amiss until our own accounts were compromised.

Ask for Feedback

Utilizing consumer information is a powerful tool and strategy that any brand can incorporate. Yahoo could have asked for customer feedback concerning their response to the hackings or whether or not their account was safe.

Unfortunately, Yahoo seemed pretty uptight about the whole situation and didn’t communicate or offer a solution. Hopefully other users had a different experience.

Focus on the Details

When a customer has an issue, they don’t care about your marketing strategy, apologies or about how great your brand is. They simply want the issue fixed. When you rectify a negative situation, the customer remembers the good experience and will do business with you again.

While Yahoo didn’t fix their email security immediately, they can rely on the power of their name and the history of their brand to retain users. Not all businesses have that luxury, so focusing on a customer’s problems immediately is crucial.

Concerned Emoticon Photo via Shutterstock


Amie Marse Amie Marse is the founder of a small content generation firm based in Lexington, KY. She’s been a passionate freelance writer turned business owner for over 7 years. Her philosophy is that the essentials of content marketing do not change from the small business to the Fortune 500 level, and that creativity trumps budget every time.

10 Reactions
  1. Wonderful article as always! It would be great if everyone likes it.

  2. it involves the Silicon Valley work style of work long and hard, but under flexible conditions.

    People were taking it pretty personally. But companies have a culture, and that culture changes over time.Nothing be surprised to find that Yahoo’s culture had led to problems with remote workers.

    • Do you think company culture has to change? I realize this is a total rabbit hole but company culture fascinates me. Have you read Good to Great or Built to Last? Both of those books talk about how to build a company culture that survives the times. I am crazy jealous of the atmosphere at IBM 🙂

  3. You get the sense that Yahoo wants to bury all the bad press and ignore it. That doesn’t work in today’s social sharing landscape.

  4. It’s kind of sad to see how far Yahoo has fallen. But it does allow other businesses to learn from their mistakes. Asking for feedback is huge. Your customers know things about your business that you may not so it’s nice to get another perspective. Just remember to take all feedback as positive.

  5. There are times when you get too big for your britches and forget the fact that only one piece of bad PR goes a lot further than 1000 “attaboys”.

  6. I have been completely locked out of my account by yahoo, i cannot read any mail, nor can i change my password, nothing, i have had a yahoo account for ten years, customer suport was the exact oppisite, although i have alot of important information on this account, there is nothing i can do…i have nothing left to do but completely deactivate my account… Thanks a million you bunch of YAHOOS, ….. Gmail just got another customer! Not happy! 🙁

  7. I have been locked out of my yahoo account for about 6 months,I can’t read any of my messages,nor can I change my pass word,I’ve tried to call yahoo customer service,and their response was that my ail may have been hacked,my response was how since i’m always careful,I told them I had this same yahoo account for over 15 years,the lady told me she was sorry and she had the nerve to tell me that the only way she can retrieve all my messages if I pay $99.00 and she can reset everything,and that I will still be able to use my same pass word,lady you and your company can go where the Sun don’t Shine!!! I know I will have to deactivate my account and I’m sad because I have alot of important information on that address but oh we’ll this sad customer will just move on, like Mr.Jason Larson stated Gmail here I come