Most Common Customer Service Mistakes

“The world’s greatest brands have made mistakes, only to bounce back stronger than ever. Shame lies not in failing, but in failing to learn from failure.” – Rob Grav

According to the quote, the biggest and best brands and companies have failed sometime but they have become big and successful by learning from their mistakes. Irrespective of the size and stature of your company and brand and the quality of your offerings, if your business lacks customer service skills, nothing else will impress customers. This has never been truer than in today’s highly competitive business scenario, where every business seems to be struggling to attract and retain customers. However, given the human factor and other circumstances, customer service mistakes happen repeatedly, which very often translate to customer ire and or churn.

Smart companies understand the critical nature of top class customer service – it drives customer loyalty and retention and brand advocacy, leading to success for the company. Customer service mistakes on the other hand, have opposite and damaging effects and should be prevented at all costs. It is imperative that companies understand the seriousness of customer service mistakes – not doing so could sound the death knell for their business. Despite best efforts, even the best, near perfect and long-standing companies make customer service mistakes. There could be several reasons for this – poor decisions, belief that they are doing a great job at serving customers, apathy, using traditional methods and other such causes. Smart companies are those that immediately remedy the customer service mistakes as soon as they occur. What are some of the common customer service mistakes that your company makes? What methods do you apply to remedy them and ensure they do not reoccur?

Employees manage customer service, just like all other functions in a company and they are prone to making mistakes.  However, companies can seek to reduce error and problems by ensuring that the staff hired to manage customer service is properly trained, experienced and have the requisite skill sets to keep customers happy. Customers expect the best service and treatment. They expect the front-end staff to be polite, empathetic, knowledgeable, and extremely patient. Given that customer service is a high stress job, employee attrition in this area also remains relatively higher than other functions. This in turn leads companies to hire in a hurry, putting their customers in the hands of untrained, unwilling, and uninformed staff. Customer service mistakes then become commonplace, leading to many more problems.

As mentioned several times, customers now have many more options and choices. One of the most common customer service mistakes is when companies run their operations to suit their own needs and time availability. Customers need assistance especially when the relationship is new and this is when they expect service levels to be at their highest and most easily accessible. When customers receive easy and great customer service the chance of them buying a product or service increases by at least 20%. In addition, top class service will ensure that customers provide repeat business and testimonials, which will in turn attract more customers. The solution is to revamp the company’s operations to extend working hours to the maximum – if possible round the clock.

Customers may or may not be right all the time. The most common and one of the worst customer service mistakes, is to argue with customers in a bid to prove that you are right. Customer loyalty and retention is a huge challenge for companies as it is and therefore it is imperative that the customer service staff and all employees understand the importance of remaining calm and polite with customers, irrespective of the situation. Angry and frustrated customers are unlikely to be appeased by self-righteous and argumentative employees and company representatives and in fact, arguments can take on an ugly turn leading to customers leaving the company for good.

Slow responses and long hold times are possibly the most frustrating for customers and yet are amongst the most common customer service mistakes. Customers hate to wait especially to receive responses to simple queries or solutions to their problems. Waiting too long, wastes time, money and is a lot of effort for customers and they would much rather work with a company that would be ready with solutions and answers when the customers need them.

The key to great customer service is personalization. However, among the common customer service mistakes that companies make is to have rote and generalized answers for customer problems. For customers, their problem is unique and different and they expect it to receive individual attention. However, most often service representatives provide ‘umbrella’ answers by asking customers to ‘go through the company website or brochure’ and ‘read the FAQs’. As a customer, you have probably experienced this kind of service more than just once and probably left you irritated and your problem unresolved.

This is the age of the digital customer – fast, updated, and ready to go. Technology has improved significantly and customers expect that businesses keep pace with the changes by incorporating the technology to serve them. However, a survey showed that only 34% of businesses use technology to manage their customer relationships – which also means that a large percentage of 66% rely on old methods and rely on ‘memory’ to serve their customers. This therefore, is one of the common customer service mistakes, which alienate customers and force them to seek out new companies to engage in business.

Customers invest time and money in doing business with a company – they must not need to exert effort to conduct business. However, many companies make it very tough to do business with them – making this amongst the more common customer service mistakes. The more effort customers need to do business with a company, the less likely are the chances of them being loyal. Imagine making customers work for something that is their right – would you want to associate with a company that makes you expend effort to get what is truly yours? The overall experience your customers have with your company must reflect your commitment to serve them well, with least possible effort on their part.

In the words of Damon Richards – “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. This quote clearly explains that customers expect care and courtesy and this is one of the emotional reasons for which, they would or would not remain with a company. One of the common customer service mistakes is ignoring the emotional aspect of the relationship by not looking at situations from the customer’s point of view. It is extremely vital to pay close attention to the ‘feelings’ of customers which, they may express in many different ways. Companies that lend a human touch and ‘feel’ for their customers, would be more successful in attracting and retaining customers long term.

Most companies have policies and procedures to deal with customer complaints – they know that there would be customer service mistakes. However, another common mistake that companies make is forgetting to acknowledge praise and compliments from their customers because they are so busy ‘fighting complaint fires’. Customers view this as neglect and negation of the feedback provided – they expect thanks and acknowledgement for making the effort to recognize the work of the company.

We are sure there are many of these customer service mistakes that your company probably makes. This is however, not an exhaustive list and if your company were to analyse, they would probably find many more such mistakes. In customer service promptness and care are utmost and if a company strives to make things perfect for their customers, it would find customers more willing to forgive the occasional customer service mistakes. The biggest flaw of a company would however, be to negate that it does make mistakes when serving its customer. Are you such a company?

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