The Biggest Customer Service Mistakes Businesses Make

Here’s another guest post from my friend Eleanor Hicks…

Regardless of your industry, excelling in customer service is crucial for helping your business succeed. Many people don’t give companies second chances after dealing with one upsetting incident. Plus, the gigantic reach of social media means that angry people can quickly advise thousands of followers against doing business with an organization that showed a customer service shortcoming.

A reality that complicates matters is that there are numerous prevailing customer service misconceptions. When business owners view those as truth, making progress in pleasing people becomes more challenging. Here are some common customer service blunders, as well as how to fix them.

Operating as Though Reactive Service Is Good Enough

Some company leaders believe that it’s sufficient to primarily worry about customers’ needs and opinions once they express them. Then, the employees mostly give reactive service. However, many people don’t complain until they’re distraught. By then, though, it may be too late to keep their business.

Unfortunately, the trend towards giving people reactive service rather than behaving proactively is more common than you may think. A Gartner survey found that only 13% of respondents had gotten proactive service from companies. However, that could change soon. Gartner analysts tapped proactive service as one of 2021’s trends. They linked it to value-driven experiences.

Delivering proactive service starts with not assuming that a customer is satisfied once a representative addresses the issue that made them get in touch. People in service roles should ask if there is anything else that customers need assistance with or other matters that have displeased them. Companies should also make it easy for people to connect with representatives. If they feel it’s too cumbersome, they’ll hold off on doing it.

Concluding That Customers Will Wait Patiently for Good Service

Another customer service mistake comes from the belief that people don’t mind waiting for service as long as they know they expect positive outcomes. However, a 2021 poll of businesses revealed that 81% of respondents said their customers expect companies to resolve issues faster now compared to two years ago. There’s room for improvement, though, since only 30% of those surveyed said their current strategies let them respond to customers quickly.

Explore how you could remove friction from the customer service process. For example, what could you do to reduce the number of times people get transferred between representatives at different departments? It’s also important that customer service representatives don’t jump to conclusions when people explain their issues. It’s better to let them explain fully before attempting resolutions.

Taking too long to fix customer issues could also happen if your company has not hired enough people to tackle them. Bringing more workers on board becomes challenging if you’re on a tight budget, but it could be worth doing what you can to make it happen. If people become too fed up with slow or insufficient service, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Thinking That People Associate Long Lines With Desirable Businesses

You’ve probably heard news coverage of how some wildly popular businesses have incredibly long lines associated with them. Indeed, some people willingly line up to get tables at restaurants operated by celebrity chefs or deal with similar waits during first-come-first-served arrangements at places like high-end nail bars or hair salons. However, they probably regard the wait as one of their least favorite parts of the experience.

The ideal situation is that your business can serve people without them having to endure long waits first. Customers don’t generally react favorably when seeing long lines. Some of them notice all the people waiting and immediately decide they don’t wait to join them. Others initially decide they’ll wait for a while, but they eventually give up. Businesses experience decreased conversion rates when people leave lines like that.

The first step to address long queue lengths is to determine whether there’s anything you could do to help people see that the lines will move faster than they might think. Otherwise, encourage them to realize that your company is worth the wait.

Create a nice atmosphere so that the downtime becomes more pleasant. You could also eliminate waiting. For example, launching an app that lets people sign up in advance for available slots or gives them push notifications when it’s their turn allows people to make the most of their time while still giving you business.

Believing It’s Best To Ignore Customer Complaints

You probably love getting fantastic customer reviews. It’s typically not a nice feeling when people’s feelings are on the other end of the spectrum, however. You might immediately start wondering what you did wrong and what different actions could have prevented the undesirable outcome. You might also think that the best response is none at all. That’s especially likely if you’re not an assertive person or think the person’s complaint is an outlier.

However, people will almost certainly get bad impressions from silence. They may decide that the lack of response means that your business does not care about its customers. However, responding promptly can help them see your company favorably. Plus, replying to online reviews is especially beneficial because potential customers can see the responses.

Make sure that the approach used by your customer service team conveys an eagerness and willingness to make things right and get to the heart of the matter. If you notice an online comment about a detailed or complicated issue, the best thing to do is invite the person to contact the company through offline means.

Also, avoid the temptation to use templates when replying to feedback. That might seem like a time-saving measure, but it could make your company come across as not committed enough to personalize the responses.

Deciding To Only Collect Occasional Feedback

Sending your customers a “How are we doing?” prompt once a year is better than nothing, but it could mean you miss out on issues. A better option is to ask for feedback after every major interaction your customers have with the business. For example, if they place orders or speak to your customer service team, check in to see what went well with their experiences and where room for improvement exists.

Some people won’t respond to those requests. However, you can improve the chances that they do by making it as quick and easy as possible to express their opinions. Many companies have feedback forms where they ask customers to provide star ratings for the overall interactions and answer whether they’re satisfied with the service received. It typically takes less than a minute to submit them.

It’s also a good idea to give people an optional field to fill with any additional comments. Providing that can help you see their opinions in context. The things people say can also aid annual performance reviews. Suppose most people who engage with a certain representative say that person had a fantastic attitude and competently addressed their problems. Then, you could mention those things when meeting with the employee.

If your feedback form is more extensive, consider giving people an incentive for completing it. For example, their response might enter them into a prize drawing or provide a discount on a future purchase.

Corrections Promote Growth

As you can see from these examples, many business leaders have their customer service teams take actions that seem appropriate but perhaps are not the best choices. If the coverage here sounded familiar, there’s no need to get down on yourself.

Apply some of the tips here to take course correction measures. That’s a great approach that paves the way for the ongoing growth of your company and its workforce.  You can also pick some metrics to improve upon with your tweaked strategies. Studying how those statistics change over time can keep everyone motivated.


Eleanor is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.






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