Roadblocks to Customer Service

“When customers see limits as roadblocks to great customer experience, you risk losing them and all those they tell in person and on social media” – Kate Nasser

Driving business is the responsibility of each person in a company – which implies that this key function belongs also to the customer service staff. Customer service has now transformed to being the single most important initiative in a business – the differentiator. Great service to customers translates to more business, loyalty and brand advocacy, while shoddy service will lead to customer dissatisfaction and possibly even a break in the business relationship. Given its importance, this aspect becomes even more challenging for any company and overcoming the roadblocks to customer service seem insurmountable. Without overcoming the roadblocks to customer service, a company would be unable to target its niche market or even provide an acceptable standard of service for the existing customer base. Customer experiences would suffer and as a result the customers would not only move away from the company, but also let others know of their ‘miserable experiences’ thereby detracting from potential business too.

While customers do understand that a company would have its limitations and trials in running the business, what they refuse to understand is its inability to overcome the roadblocks to customer service. In the face of these challenges, a company would find it harder to understand customers, their expectations and what, for customers would constitute a memorable experience with the company. With customer satisfaction being highly subjective, it would become impossible to achieve even the basic levels of service if there are known and unknown roadblocks to customer service, about which the company does nothing. Understanding customers and their expectations is not as straightforward and easy as some companies would like to believe – in fact, heightened discontent in customers is often the result of a few minor lapses in service.

We cannot emphasize enough how important customer service has now become making it even harder and more difficult to do well consistently. To top that, there are many roadblocks to customer service, which delay or even prohibit a company’s progress in making positive and lasting impressions on customers. Let us look at some of these roadblocks to customer service. At the core of service are the people that provide it and very often the challenges and rote nature of their job leads them towards negative attitudes and a lackadaisical approach towards customers. They fall into the trap of not listening actively to customers because they believe that “they have heard the issue / complaint / query a number of times”. The real danger lies in them holding on to their behaviours, becoming one of the hardest roadblocks to customer service. Customers would soon be able to perceive a drop in service leading to dissatisfaction, lack of repeat business and ultimately forcing them away from the company. If a company cannot detect and do away with this roadblock, their business would soon suffer drastically.

Another ‘biggie’ of the roadblocks to customer service is negativity and lack of cohesion within the various teams. This could be the result of unclear job expectations, weak leadership, poor team synergy, disruptive workers and other such reasons that teams do not work together. Given that customer service is dependent on people and processes, it most certainly cannot work with such negative traits. A company can be highly automated and have streamlined processes, but if the people are unwilling to use these ‘tools’ and refuse to interact with their colleagues none of these efforts would bear any fruit. If a company does not have a customer-centric culture, roadblocks to customer service would be commonplace since each department would work in silos refusing to work together to solve problems that customers may have. There are many instances where the customer service team would blame the sales team for making unrealistic promises to earn more commission and would refuse to sort the customer’s problem because the problem came about due to another team! How can a company hope to achieve anything with such an attitude?

There is a saying, that customer service is not the responsibility of one team but of the whole company. However, there are companies that still believe that customer service is the responsibility of the customer facing representatives and do not realize that other departments have an equally humongous responsibility of delivering great service. This is another of the major roadblocks to customer service. Teams must communicate with each other in order to facilitate quick and effective solutions to customer issues but this does not happen since the company does not have a culture that supports such thinking.

The result of a company’s narrow mind-set towards customer service is an obvious lack of cohesion in the company. While it is common for different teams to have separate goals and agendas, it is detrimental to a company if these different goals prevent a company from achieving a common objective – that of great customer service leading to more business and profits. The leaders of the company must remain aware of this and remind the teams of the purpose of the business in order to overcome this roadblock.

Leaders of the company too can be one of the many roadblocks to customer service. How you may ask – they have a plethora of responsibilities apart from customer service. They drive results, put together long-term and rewarding strategies and develop the business and other such hard-core business responsibilities. These ‘chores’ could often get in the way of paying attention to the needs and expectations of customers and this important task gets relegated to the service teams. Without direction and leadership interest, customer service is bound to ‘take a beating’. It is best that leaders incorporate this important aspect into their core responsibility areas to ensure high standards of service at all times. The fact is that people emulate their leaders – hence if they believe that they do not have leadership support, their interest in upholding the needs and expectations of customers would wane too.

Another of the self-created roadblocks to customer service is a company’s inability to see the customer service portion of their business as a profit centre. All customer driven and focused initiatives must be meticulously planned and strategically woven into the budget of the company. Without allocating funds to these initiatives, a company would be reluctant to spend on them, resulting in haphazard and sloppy service to customers. The company too would be caught unawares if they were required to spend on a customer service related issue. Customers are quick to perceive such laxities and repeats of such behaviour, would ultimately lead to them moving away to a company that actually cared about them.

We know that customers often do not complain about poor service but just leave. This is probably one of the most dreaded of the roadblocks to customer service. The reason customers move away silently is probably because, the company has a reputation of not listening or responding. Customers do not want to waste their time and effort on trying to push their complaints with a company that would do little or nothing about their grievance. They would much rather deflect to a company that would listen to them. Lack of empathy, care and understanding of customers and their needs is possibly the biggest and toughest of the roadblocks to customer service, since customers do not tolerate such behaviour.

Delivering outstanding customer service and overcoming the roadblocks to customer service are hard, complicated and highly strenuous activities. However, companies that focus relentlessly on providing the best service to their customers, reap the benefits of sustainable success, profits and customer loyalty.

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree