Ways to Handle Customer Service Challenges

Consistency doesn’t mean you never have a problem. It means your customers can count on you if there ever is a problem – Shep Hyken

Your relationship with a customer does not end when you make a sale; far from it. The sort of customer service you offer after that sale is what will determine the sort of relationship you have with that customer and the bearing it will have on future customers. Customer service is your ongoing relationship with a customer; starting before a purchase of a product or service and continuing beyond that point. There are many customer service challenges that companies can and do encounter; however, there are ways to counter those and many reasons to bother to do so as well:

Successful companies pride themselves on providing quality customer service and there are some very good reasons for this. The main benefit of top notch customer service is customer retention… because happy customers don’t want to go elsewhere. Good quality customer service results in positive word of mouth and this translates into free promotion of your business. Happy customers also tend to share their positive experiences on review websites, social networks and elsewhere which give your business free positive publicity and enhanced popularity.

Working on improved after sales service and overcoming customer service challenges also means satisfied shareholders, increased business growth, and a wider client base. As a business owner or manager, overcoming these challenges can be critical learning experiences which help reduce the risk of future business failures. When your customers are satisfied, this serves to motivate your employees, increases efficiency and also helps to reduce employee turnover.

Providing quality customer service is not easy; nor is it a challenge to overcome once and for all. Overcoming customer service challenges is an ongoing process; a day to day, person by person challenge. And no matter how good the feedback is today, tomorrow you have to start all over again with the next customer. As long as you and your employees remember that kindness, courtesy and the willingness to do whatever it takes to sort out a problem are at the root of a positive customer service experience; many other things will fall into place.

Research shows that organisations that value customer service tend to spend more on employee training processes. This is an expenditure that pays for itself over the long term. In fact good customer service can save you money! How? As one expert puts it, “when you do it right the first time, you don’t have to fix it the next time.” Read on to know about the most common customer service challenges and how can you overcome them.

Customer service comes into play when a customer has some requirement or complaint. If you concentrate on improving product and service quality and work towards easing the experience of using that product or service, there is that much less likelihood that a customer will call up with a question or complaint. You can head off and prevent at least some common customer service challenges by providing efficient services and product quality control.

You and your team have probably worked on creating all possible scenarios where a customer would approach the company for help or redress. Your customer service training has likely equipped your representatives with satisfactory answers to most possible questions. However there are always questions that your reps may not know the answers to. For instance, your representative cannot give current information on a shipment that has been dispatched but which a customer has not yet received, simply because your rep does not have that logistical information. Or it could be that a customer has purchased a new appliance and has a rather unusual question about its functions; a question not answered in the customer service manual!

The solution to such customer service challenges is not for your representative to say “I don’t know”. The solution is to try to find out more about the situation immediately and put the customer in the picture. If this is not possible, you would have to placate the customer by assuring them of a call back soon with the relevant information and then calling back as promised. The solution is to convey to the customer service rep that they have to be prepared to do anything that is needed to help and satisfy the customer. The solution can also be transferring the call to someone better equipped to answer the question or sort out the problem. This helps reassure the customer that you are concerned and are doing your best to help them.

This is another one of the commonly experienced customer service challenges: the volume of queries or complaints outstrips available customer services personnel. This results in the customer having to put up with the highly annoying experience of being made to wait with an automated message and some rather pedestrian piped music (or worse, the company’s repetitive signature tune or jingle) for company. No one wants to wait for that customer care representative who is “busy attending to other customers”.

So here you can use technology to overcome customer service challenges and to serve your customers better. Rather than keeping your customer waiting seemingly interminably, causing them to get more and more annoyed at the waste of time, assure them of a call back, confirm with a text message or email and then ensure that the call back occurs as promised. Suppose you were unable to make a delivery to your customer as promised or suppose you made an incomplete or erroneous delivery to your customer. Understandably, the customer is furious: perhaps they wanted butter urgently to bake a cake or needed that new iPhone to give as a gift to someone which did not materialise… you get the picture.

Such customer service challenges can be addressed retrospectively, because what’s done is done. However what you can do is mollify your customer some other way. Have a representative call up, explain the situation and apologise in no uncertain terms. If possible, offer a freebie with the next purchase, a complimentary shipping offer or some amount of store credit to the customer’s account. Not only will the customer be mollified, you will have successfully lured them back to make another purchase by virtue of your freebie or credit offer.

Sometimes your customer is just in a bad mood. Perhaps they had a falling out with their significant other, got yelled at by their boss or maybe had their car towed. Whatever be the reason, rude customers who are in no mood to be placated pose some significant customer service challenges. When dealing with such a person on the phone it can be relatively easier but dealing with the customer in person – where one has to school one’s expressions and control reactions – can be more difficult.

Choosing the right people for the job of customer complain redressal is the key here. It can be tricky to find the people who are both knowledgeable as well as polite and patient. So here you would need to reiterate the importance of politeness and patience during training during training. Emphasise the importance of not taking things personally, remaining calm and apologising – even when the customer is being unreasonable and doesn’t deserve the apology. After all, no one said customer service challenges are easy to overcome. As stated in the foregoing, customer service is a process, not an end in itself!

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