Customer service flaws to shun completely

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. – Henry Ford

In an ever changing and rapidly growing business environment, customer service is getting tougher by the day. Products and offerings are similar and to make matters even more complicated there is a surge of new breed start-ups that are hitting the market equipped with more information and better technology. With such a large ‘buffet’ of goods customers are calling the shots and seem to be enjoying every moment! Why then must they settle for less? The only point of differentiation seems to be customer service par excellence and customers take notice and choose one or the other company based on this. Customers are making their choices based on how companies behave and treat them rather than the ‘great’ offerings and brands they promote. Companies must identify and shun any customer service flaws in their system.

Anyone in business now knows that a very large percentage of customers switch companies when they experience shoddy customer service resulting in onerous and discourteous experiences – it’s almost 89% of customers who feel this way. Scary stats and should be enough to veer companies away from the customer service flaws that drive customers away.

– The kind customer service your company provides is the result of the kind of staff you have. Having badly trained, rude, discourteous and under-skilled staff will have serious consequences for your company. It is also vital that the staff is abreast with the latest developments of the customer’s industry and also have their company’s product knowledge on their fingertips. It is a no-brainer that staff with good knowledge of their company will do a better job at servicing the customers than those who meet the customer with blank stares and gibberish. Such unequipped staff, tends to get demotivated since they are constantly pulled up and spoken harshly to by customers resulting in an even further decline in the service they deliver. These staff members bring the performance of the whole team down and also bring a bad name and disrepute to your company.

The staff could be performing badly either because they are uninterested to learn, in which case appropriate action must be taken. However, it is also possible that your company has been ‘too pre-occupied’ to ensure that this vital team is adequately, appropriately and consistently trained and coached. Neglecting this set of people means you choose to neglect your customers. Constantly monitor how they are performing and get feedback from them to understand if they would need anything else to do their jobs better. They must be equipped with insights in to what the company hopes to achieve for its customers and for its employees. Before throwing a new recruit headlong in to service, ensure that they have requisite skills and knowledge to perform and wow the customers.

– Arguing with a customer and telling them that they are wrong is not only ridiculous, it is a sure way to lose. Even if you win the argument, you will lose the customer. Never blame the customer for an error or problem that occurs, yes even if you know that it is the customer’s fault. Having trained employees will ensure that they remain calm and in control even when the customer is irate. Calm employees have a better chance at resolving conflicts and ensuring a positive outcome. An irate customer is already flustered and is desperate to be heard – listening attentively and with unfeigned empathy will allow them to vent and eventually calm down. Such a demonstration of calm composure will make the customer more likely to accept the solution that the customer service representative provides, even if it is an interim solution. The idea is to accept that customers will lose their cool and also accept that fault finding will come to no good. Apologize to the customer and go ahead and provide them with the best and most appropriate solution. The customer will remember you in a good way the next time they call.

– Another of the major customer service flaws is over promising and under-delivering. Service and product flaws will happen but not taking ownership and not rectifying them is the surest way to make customers leave you. Most customers would allow at least 2 chances before leaving a company. No one is expecting you to be perfect – but the least you can for your customers is make amends swiftly and smoothly. Breaking promises is akin to being dishonest and not trustworthy. Customers will not do business with people who they cannot trust – it is like this in everyday life too. Also remember to keep your customers informed of the corrective action you are taking since your silence could be interpreted as ignoring them.

– Calls not being answered, or long hold times, or a call being transferred to many people and the likes is one of the most annoying customer service flaws that makes customers see red. Being shunted around from person to person or being put on hold without a reason tells the customer that – your staff is inefficient, no one knows who is responsible for the query, your company is not customer focused, your customer service is deplorable. Losing a customer or customers over an unanswered or badly answered call is the worst kind of service and you can be sure that the customer will talk about this experience and or write searing comments over social media sites. Empower your employees to take spot decisions and be responsible for them. Keep your customers with you for long just by attending to them quickly and efficiently.

– Not providing special treatment to some long term and loyal customers since your policy states that all customers must be treated equal. Treating equally simply means that all customers are treated with respect, with politeness and with courteousness. However, for customers who have been with your company for long and have contributed to your success, not providing special treatment could be interpreted as not being valued. Provide leeway and encourage your customer service staff to use discretion to go beyond the policies to please these ‘special customers’. This also works as a great retention strategy and also makes such customers active and enthusiastic brand advocates. In fact if your current policy is giving the customers a hard time and they are speaking ill of it over various channels, it would be a smart move to remove the policy altogether.

If you were an exceptionally great customer, wouldn’t you have wanted to be rewarded for being so? You would most certainly expect a reciprocal treatment and would be offended if you didn’t receive it.

– Another of the customer service flaws is ignoring the most basic levels of customer service. Everyone knows what kind of service is required and what kind of service they can expect. Smiling, greeting, using the name of the customer – not difficult but often ignored since the job of customer service is demanding and stressful. Remembering the childhood basics of please, thank you, sorry, welcome and such are the most basic of the lot and yet companies and their representatives forget them! The courteousness must be unfeigned and demonstrate genuine interest in the customer rather than a robotic customary greeting. The basics are most certainly expected and customers can be easily put off if these are ignored. Wowing customers through outstanding service on the top of these basic courtesies will be the icing on the cake and have customers raving about you. Customer service itself may be tough, but use the basics to pave a smooth hassle free path for your company through to the customers.

Irrespective of the demographic or the industry of customers you serve, for customers the real thing is the actual experience starting from the time they connect right through their business journey with you. Strategize correct, revamp your communication systems and channels, have the best of staff and allow each one to bend some rules and use their judgement – resulting in pleased customers. Avoid the customer service flaws like a deadly disease.

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