How to Avoid These 10 Customer Service Fails

The customer experience with customer service is representative of the customer’s entire relationship with that company. Poor customer service can end that relationship and cost a business its reputation and revenue. Businesses should strive to offer quality customer service to keep their customers satisfied because a satisfied customer spreads positive word-of-mouth and propels the business forward. A well-trained and pro-active customer service team, along with effective policies and technology, are important in avoiding customer service failures that could ultimately lead to a business closing.

Customer service representative providing excellent customer service.

Hiring the Wrong People

Hiring employees who are not fit for customer service can negatively impact the customer service experience. It’s frustrating for both the customer and the employee if the employee is not suited for person-to-person communication, whether it be by phone or terminal-to-terminal. It hinders their capability to assess and resolve a customer’s concerns or needs. Key traits to look for when hiring a customer service representative include but are not limited to: empathy, friendliness, team-oriented, optimistic, and conscientious.

“One and Done” Training

Customer service training should go beyond a first day orientation/training. Quality, comprehensive customer service requires quality, comprehensive training.  Periodic training, review, and reinforcement are required if a business expects its customer service personal to keep up with changing customer needs and technology. A regularly updated customer service manual and continuous training on products and customer service techniques are examples of ways to maintain consistent, effective customer service skills.

Not Leading by Example

Employees are the reflection of a company’s leadership. If a supervisor or manager lacks enthusiasm or patience and understanding, it will reflect in their team. Leaders should set a good example of customer service to show their employees that customer service is taken seriously. Also, regularly communicating about customer service reinforces its importance and prioritizes customer needs.

Ignoring the Power of Language

Miscommunication can muck up the customer service experience and make it more difficult than it should be. Customer service representatives should sound natural and convey brand appropriate language in a kind and gentle manner. Some positive non-verbal language includes yielding right of way to a customer when passing or not turning your back to guest while communicating. Appearance of both the customer service representative and their workspace are other non-verbal language cues that leave an impression with customers.

A barista providing excellent customer service.

Lack of Online Access

Customers do not like to speak on the phone with a live person more than necessary. More and more customers are preferring to interact with a company via devices, whether it be through their computers, mobile phones, or other mobile devices.  Not having a website or a social media account where customers can communicate their concerns can be limiting to a business’s customer service. A website provides information and access to a company. Regarding social media, a business can miss out on opportunities to publicly show they care about their customers and endeavor to resolve customer concerns.

Poor Perception of Time

Misleading timetables or lateness shows an insensitivity to a customer’s pacing preferences and timing issues. This can lead to lowered expectations or the customer defecting to a competitor. Businesses that excel at meeting customers’ perceptions of time do so with self-service order or project trackers, through flexible delivering options, and guaranteed order delivery times.

Misunderstanding the Meaning of Money to the Customer

The meaning of money differs from customer to customer or the same customer depending on the situation. When a customer perceives unfair circumstances and it involves them spending money, it can lead to a disproportionately negative reaction from the customer, even if it is perceived as a small amount. However, a large amount requested in a situation that they perceive as fair is accepted as a part of doing business. Customer service representatives must be able to adjust their view of money to match customers to avoid backlash and negative feedback.

Limiting Distribution Channels

Discriminating by distribution channels inconveniences customers by limiting their options and wasting their resources (time, money, gas, etc.). An example of limiting distribution channels is accepting gift cards either online or in-store only. Another example is not accepting online order returns in-store or in-store returns via mail.  In some cases, it could drive consumers to competitors. Businesses should strive to offer a seamless shopping experience to best meet their customers’ needs.

Not Having a Customer Recovery Plan

Ultimately, there will come a time where customer service misses its mark. A superb product or service does not matter if a solid service recovery process is not in place. An effective recovery process restores customer satisfaction and reduces the possibility of a recurrence. An exceptional experience enhances customer satisfaction and reaffirms customer loyalty. The basics of a customer recovery plan are: apologize, review the complaint, resolve the issue, and follow up.

Not Taking Advantage of AI

Businesses that are not using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in some capacity of their customer service are at risk of being left behind by competitors, as the technology continues to grow in availability and ease of use. AI allows customers to make simple voice or text commands instead of wasting time on the phone, as well as allowing companies to keep up with the busy lives of their customers. It also provides personalization and tailors to customers’ needs by sifting through millions of pieces of information that would otherwise be too difficult and time-consuming for humans. Businesses also gain customer insights to improve future experience by using AI to gather vast amounts of data to find trends.

Wrapping It All Up

The best way to avoid customer service fails is to prevent them, and if you can’t, have a plan in place to correct it. Hiring and regularly training customer service personnel both addresses and prevents problems. Keeping the customer’s needs in mind and being considerate of their time and money will ensure a business wins at customer service.

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