Four Common Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

customer service mistakesEven when things go well with your customers things can change if mistakes are made. Here’s how to avoid making them.

Although your customer service can either boost your company miles ahead of the competition or utterly destroy your business, most companies don’t spend nearly enough time planning how to deal with the situation if customer service mistakes are made.

If you give your customers a terrible experience, they may never come back. Even worse, they’ll tell everybody they know, especially now that we all have a voice on the Internet via Facebook and twitter.

It’s actually not as challenging as you might think to provide excellent customer service that will make your customers love you.

Just avoid making these four common customer service mistakes:

Lack of Empathy When Dealing with Customers

Treating customers with empathy, patience and respect may come easily for you, but it doesn’t necessarily for your new hires. Without clear guidelines on how to treat customers, you’re leaving it up to the person’s judgment, which may or may not be in line with your standards.

Provide clear guidelines and processes for your employees. Train each staff member to deal with any real or hypothetical situation that could arise. Beyond procedures, give them tools and principles for making their own decisions. They have to temper their knowledge of procedure with your customer service principles and their own judgment.

Putting Unsuitable People in Customer-facing Roles

There are some people who just aren’t built to provide customer service. But anyone you hire who has any contact whatsoever with the public needs to be able to interact with respect and concern for the customer’s needs. This ability should be just as important in your hiring decisions as any hard skills or experience you want them to have.

Paint a picture of the type of person you want working with your customers. Write interview questions that will test those qualities. Don’t hire people just because they seem nice and they’re probably okay with customers.

Wasting Customers’ Time with Automated Telephone Systems

Nothing makes customers angrier than calling a business and having to deal with navigating a robotic automated menu. While they’re waiting for the canned, yet pleasant, voice to read their options, they might just hang up and call somebody else. When they eventually reach a human being they’re steaming mad.

There should always be a human being at the other end of the line as quickly as possible. Make sure your service reps are there to answer questions and deal with problems, and set a time limit for answering calls. So many companies rely on automated menus that your company will stand out. People will be surprised to hear a live human voice in record time.

Finger Pointing when Things Go Wrong

Even if there’s been a disaster and it’s not your fault, you need to take charge of fixing it. Blaming others shows a lack of responsibility. For example, don’t blame another department within your company or some third party, even though it may be tempting because it takes the heat off you.

Instead, take the initiative. Don’t be afraid to apologize for any inconveniences. When an angry customer calls, it’s your duty to send them away happy and satisfied, with their needs met.

Too many companies only worry about damage control when mistakes are made in customer service. They only think about it when there are problems. Instead, you should be proactive in making every transaction with a customer as positive as possible.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate when things go right!

Do this by either identifying employees who have achieved a level of excellence or by posting customer testimonials.

About the Author

Ian MillerIan Miller is Editor of Customer Service Manager Magazine (CSM) – the leading resource and community for customer service professionals.

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