Customer Service Blunders

“Mostly, if you want to succeed, you will need your customers to see you as reliable, dependable, credible, helpful, respectful, open, responsive, and honest.” – Don Peppers and Marth Rogers

The biggest of business blunders is to de-prioritize customer service hoping it would manage itself and focusing only on other things such as product development, new customer acquisition, and other business imperatives. While these are important, what companies fail to understand is that in the current scenario, the most competitive advantage of a company is its customer service. It is through this that companies can build and sustain personal and long-lasting relationships with their customers. Those that miss this point would obviously not be aware of customer service blunders that are bound to happen and would bring the company down.

Companies fail to respond fast enough and fail to put together a personalized response, accentuating and making the customer service blunders seem even greater. When blunders do happen and companies fail to act, customers are quick to publicize their ‘horror stories’ via the most visible and public mediums such as social media. The smallest blunders appear gigantic and within a few minutes, thousands of people know about them, making it almost impossible for a company to recover from the ‘blow’.

The worst part of customer service blunders is that even the biggest companies and brands are not ‘immune’. In fact, given their ‘visibility’ and status, their blunders could cost them a lot more than smaller companies / brands. A report revealed that a whopping, 82% customers would stop buying from a company owing to customer service blunders and poor recovery from them. This problem becomes even bigger since this large chunk of customers would obviously go straight to the company’s competitors and damaging a lot of the reputation the company may have built over years. Does your company know how to manage customer service blunders and are these frequent occurrences?

Customers want most is that they spend as little time and effort in doing business with a company. In fact, given that access to information and ‘do it yourself’ is big, customers prefer to take those routes than connect with the company. However, when they do, their expectation is to receive a prompt, genuine, and sensible response / solution to their problems at the first contact point. Companies just have to focus on making their call centres and customer service representatives more efficient and knowledgeable, such that customer wait times reduce and first call resolutions increase. As products and services become better and more complex, the nature of complaints become complicated too and companies must find ways to overcome them. Not doing so would be one of the worst customer service blunders and can turn simple response seeking customers to fiery, angry ones ready to bring your company down.

Many companies boast that they are the best and that they can delight their customers. However, unless their offerings and customer service make their customer’s lives easier, they would never to be able to please the customers. Lacking the focus to provide consistently top class experiences and reducing the effort customers need to expend to do business, is one of the leading customer service blunders. Customers expect this and can become disgruntled enough to leave. The second part of this point is that companies fail to reduce customer effort because they have failed to see situations, products, and experiences from the customer’s point of view. They fail to provide seamless and unified messages and service across all the channels of communication, leading to distrust and confusion in customers. The silo culture ruins the entire experience, does not allow the integration of systems and departments, and as a result customer service teams are unable to take immediate action when customers come a calling. Keeping customers waiting or on hold over the phone, or passing them from one person / department to another – are sure shot ways to drive them out the door, never to return.

We mentioned above, that service is expected across all channels of communication. However, given a company’s limitations or inability, they would limit the points of contact to a few channels. These may not be acceptable to all customers, who may expect that the company respond to them via the same channel that they connected. Forcing customers to use cumbersome forms or tough to get through and expensive phone lines, amount to customer service blunders, which customers do not forgive easily. Adding to this point is that customers view such inability as a lack of empathy and concern on the part of the company. Customers expect companies to be human and value personalized interactions. However, by making it tough to connect and receive service, companies display robotic and impersonal behaviour, which is now one of the ‘cardinal sins’ of customer service.

When customers do not receive the ‘hearing’ they expect, they turn to social media. The reason is simple – it is visible and by broadcasting their dissatisfaction via these platforms, they attempt to teach the companies a lesson they will not forget. However, one of the customer service blunders is when companies begin a dialogue around the complaint via social media. Doing so simply magnifies the problem and a single incorrect word or comment could spiral the situation out of hand. It would better to provide immediate attention to the irate customer via a non-visible channel rather than spurring negativity for the company via social media.

Never blame the customer – this should be common business sense, even if the problems occur from incorrect usage of a product or service by the customer. The customer would already be frustrated owing to the inconvenience, and blaming them would be akin to ‘adding fuel to the fire’. Customers never want to hear that they are wrong, but would rather that your company provided them with a speedy and efficient resolution. One of worst things to do in customer service is to ask a troubled customer to ‘file’ their complaint via the formal process for any action to happen. How many of us as customers, have been subject to this brusque treatment and we do know how it made us feel. It would behove a company to empower their customer service staff to make spot decisions and train them adequately to identify and provide the right solutions, speedily, before a small issue escalates to a full-blown unmanageable complaint.

We are certain there are many other customer service blunders that occur and which cost a company huge amounts of money and effort, while negatively affecting their reputation and if left unattended, prove to be the company’s downfall. Customers do not easily forget poor experiences and research proves that while a happy customer may tell three people, an irked one can tell at least 10. It would be much better and prudent to identify and avoid customer service blunders by being genuinely interested in your customers and their needs. Happy customers reciprocate by telling others about their experiences and encourage them to associate with a company. They are even willing to overlook some minor service lapses but if your company does not respond by keeping customer service blunders in check, it could end up being criticized and pulled down by customers on platforms for all to see. Does not sound like something you would want for your company right?

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