6 Customer Service Mistakes—and How to Overcome Them

Customer service agents in office

Even the best-oiled customer service machines are bound to malfunction on occasion. When a mistake occurs, how does your business handle the blunder?

Most Common Customer Mistakes

Six of the most common mistakes customers complain about are:

  • Inattentive Staff – When your customer walks into your business, employees are engaging in personal conversations, texting on their cell phones or finishing their lunch.
  • Failure to Follow-Through with a Problem – Your service rep told a customer he would get an answer to his request, but he forgot to get back with him.
  • Untrained Staff – A new or poorly-trained employee is unable to complete the customer’s transaction or answer questions about the customer’s business.
  • Faulty Product or Process – The product the customer received didn’t work, or an automated process (like a delivery) didn’t come through.
  • Multiple Transfers – The customer has to talk to multiple departments within your company before he can get an answer to his request.
  • Failure to Listen – A customer service rep doesn’t listen closely to the customer’s problem, and now the customer has a “solution” that doesn’t meet his need.

Nearly all businesses have encountered one or more of these customer service gaffes on occasion. The way in which you handle the situation will make all the difference for your customer. Studies have shown customers who has a complaint satisfied has the potential to patronize the business more than a customer who never had a complaint in the first place. There are a number of steps you can take to be sure that frustrated customer walks out of your business a happy customer once again.

Remedies for Customer Service Mishaps

The first thing to do when a customer has a complaint is to listen to the problem. Active listening will do more than convey interest and concern to the customer; it will also help your customer service rep accurately identify the root of the problem so she can recommend an effective solution. Once the problem has been verbalized, it is a good idea to paraphrase the problem back to the customer to ensure it was heard correctly.

In some cases, it might be helpful to ask the customer what she would like to see in terms of a solution to get an accurate idea of what the expectations are. Restaurants can take back a meal, airlines can change a ticket and computer stores can offer a replacement product.

Once you know how to meet your customer’s expectations, see if there is anything you can do to exceed them. A free dessert, upgrade to first class or complementary software is often more than enough to let the customer know you are sorry for the mistake and are ready to go the extra mile to make him happy once again.

Customer service mistakes happen – it’s what you to about those mistakes that makes the difference for a customer. With a little service finesse, you can transform that mistake into an opportunity to transform an irritated customer into a loyal and happy advocate for your business.

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