We’re moving and responding so fast today – usually in response to technology – that customer service has had a systemic erosion over the last few decades. Today I’m truly shocked at the attitude of many businesses and employees who take their customers for granted.
According to The US Department of Commerce, the main reason customers leave a service business, after poor service quality, is due to poor customer service.
Years ago the phrase, “the customer is always right” pervaded society. Today it’s more about making sure you don’t offend anyone with your language. We’re missing the point… maybe the customer isn’t always right, but listening and responding appropriately will win you more loyalty than brushing them off.
Making these simple mistakes can and will be detrimental to the long-term success of your business. If you want to stand above and beyond your competition, you need to know the types of customer service mistakes that are common, as well as how to avoid or fix them. This list will give you that opportunity.
Mistake #1: Making Them Wait Too Long
Fast access, instant gratification, rapid success, quick response, and speedy delivery are all things people have come to expect. Patience and politeness often go by the wayside when it comes to customer service.
Customers can be impatient. If you want to provide a superior customer experience, make response time a priority. One way is to use automation to acknowledge every support issue immediately.
Whether you use software or simply voicemail, give customers an approximate time when they can expect a detailed response. If they know what to expect and when to expect it, they’re more likely to be patient and calm when contacted.
Mistake #2: No Written Policies & Procedures
Display written policies and procedures in a prominent place to keep expectations realistic and service quality consistent. They remind you and your customers how things work in your business. They ensure that you have a plan to look to when there is an issue and your decisions are logical and reasonable.
Here are a few procedures and policies you may want to include as a start:
- Service Arrival Times
- Worker Rotation
- Refund Policy
- Service Guarantee
- Troubleshooting Guidelines
- Customer Satisfaction
This can all be included in a customer accessible FAQ. Also, provide your staff with an internal copy, which provides them with additional instructions for dealing with difficult situations.
Mistake #3: Not Apologizing
One of the worst thing a service provider can do is neglect to say, “I’m sorry” when they are at fault. However, apologizing too often, or when the issue isn’t their fault or the fault of the company can seem insincere.
Customers may want to hear an apology, but what really matters is what you do to fix the issue and make amends.
If you or the company has made a mistake, accept the fault, apologize for it and then fix it. If you are not at fault, acknowledge the customer’s feelings of frustration and see what you can do to help them.
As long as the outcome satisfies the customer, you have done your job. Don’t accept blame when no one is to blame.
Mistake #4: Taking Complaints Personally
Being a business owner and handling customer support yourself can be very difficult. When people are dissatisfied, they complain. For business owners, it often feels like they’re complaining about you personally.
If it’s difficult for you to separate your owner role from your customer service role, consider hiring a someone to perform this task. When you remove yourself from that role, the complaints won’t bother you so much. In addition, the customer will be happier when an “impartial” party is handling the situation.
Mistake #5: Arguing with Customers Publically
Nothing good can come from arguing with customers in public. There have been some dreary examples of this that end up going viral, like this one.
Even if you are right, people watching the drama unfold, can turn against you or be repulsed by the unprofessional handling of what should be a private conversation. It doesn’t help your business at all.
Use the opportunity to show your professionalism and wisdom. Ignore any tirades and focus on continuing the conversation in the customer support area. Don’t let “trolls” or spammers bait you into responding. Delete spam.
Mistake #6: Ignoring Negative Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is important to your business success. If you are fortunate enough to receive it, don’t ignore it. Your customer took time out of a busy day to keep you informed. When you receive feedback, it is a good sign, even if it is negative.
It gives you insight into how your customers feel, what they want, and how you can make changes to benefit your business, products, and the even customer service.
When you ignore customer feedback, especially the “less than flattering” kind, you lose a golden opportunity to validate your customers feelings and thoughts. You also miss out on a chance to build a better relationship, obtain more details, and show your gratitude.
Respond promptly to all customer feedback whether you like it or not. Showing respect and gratitude for their efforts will reassure them that they are important and have been heard. This simple action will raise you in your customer’s esteem and keep them coming back.
Mistake #7: Disregarding Customer Service Preferences
Knowing your customers’ habits, needs, and preferences is very important to all areas of your business, including customer service. Almost nothing makes customers more irate than having a problem, needing quick response and they can’t find the support/contact info. Their frustration can be compounded if the contact type they prefer is not offered. Customers know how they communicate best. It may be through email, instant messages, live chat, or by phone.
To give customers an exceptional customer support experience and cut down on the frustration and problems (for all of you) offer their top 3 or 4 communication preferences. Add support options or links in the same prominent place on every page of your site. The top right corner is a great place but you may also want to add them in the footer or float them in a sidebar. Keep customers happy by being more accessible by catering to their communication needs.
Mistake #8: Only Considering Immediate Needs
As your business develops and grows, it’s important to plan for future needs. When you choose automation for your business, consider the customer service functionality that may or may not be built in.
Consider your immediate needs, as well as scalability for the future. If you think too “small,” you can stunt your business growth. Think 2-5 years ahead. But, be realistic.
Do you really need automation that costs hundreds per month? If so, then you must do it. If not, you can use something else. Don’t use any software that doesn’t provide what you need.
Know where you want to go and what you want to do before choosing the platforms that will build your business properly from the start. It’s easier (and cheaper) to keep a customer than find a new one.
Mistake #9: Avoiding Personalization
Even though most customers are smart enough to realize that automation plays a role in personalization, data shows that it’s appreciated. But you want to ensure that it really works.
Test out any personalization you try to ensure that it looks right and doesn’t show up something that is awkward or wrong. The more personal you can get with your customers, the better off you’ll be. Customers will feel like they were heard and understood. You can also personalize your customer messages by segmenting your audience emails. Sending customers your newsletter or eMail messages on topics they don’t want, tips your hand and they wonder, “Why am I getting this?”
Mistake #10: Not Saying Thank You
One of the most important things you can do to please your customers is to tell them, thank you. You would not have your business without them. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Everything you do is for and about them. Therefore, find ways to show your appreciation to them for each purchase, testimonial, comment, feedback response, and more. The more appreciative you are, the more they will support your endeavors.
What do do Next
These top 10 customer service mistakes are important to remember, but they’re just the beginning. I’ve included more detailed concepts in this report that you can implement to prevent customers from leaving and to increase sales.
Don't Risk Losing Another Customer!
Every Customer is at Risk of Leaving You
Make your customers feel special and you'll earn a customer for life. Being simply adequate at customer service is not enough. There is far too much competition out there for that.
Follow the concepts in this report and you'll increase customer retention and increase sales!