A consumer impact report states that 89% of customers defect to competition after experiencing poor customer service.
This is a clear indication that customer service is of paramount importance when it comes to account retention, and not the product quality or the price.
Most businesses fail not because they had an inferior product, or it was priced too high; they fail because they failed at solving their customers’ problems.
A good product at a great price can only foster your relationship with customers, it cannot nurture the relationship over the course of time.
In essence, it’s your customers who are running the show, making your profits, and paying the salaries of your employees. Businesses need to elevate to the realization that building a customer-centric culture is the only way to succeed.
However, most customer service professionals fail to recognise that it is not just about problem solving, and end up annoying customers unknowingly (more often than not)
In this article, I will reveal actions that your customer service must stop doing.
1. Overpromising on problem-solving
Let’s begin with an example.
A customer calls up the service desk regarding a problem with the product. Richard (a service rep) promises to come back with a solution in 2 hours. He calls back after five hours saying the problem has been solved. Voila!
Where did he go wrong? He failed to call the customer at the end of two hours that he had asked for. This is when the customer starts to lose patience. This is when most of them start thinking of your competition.
Don’t commit to deadlines that you cannot meet. This will only add to the customer’s lament.
A better approach is to tell customers up front that a service might take a certain time frame and then look good when the job takes less time than promised. A customer would rather be pleasantly surprised than hit with disappointment.
This is how people respond to broken promises:
- Promise achieved: Yay! Warm fuzzies all over.
- Promise broken: I am never doing business with you again. In fact, I will tell all my friends to never do business with you!
2. Leaving your customer wondering, not following through
Be transparent in your customer service approach. Recent statistics show that 71% of those who experience positive social care are likely to recommend the brand to others. If you want your brand to stand out, a good customer service experience is necessary.
When a customer approaches you with a problem:
DO NOT tell them that you will work on it, and get back when the problem has been solved.
INSTEAD, give them the low-down on what can and cannot be done to fix the problem, and how much time it might take for that.
Empty promises and vague answers are for rookies.
Tell them that you’ll take an X number of hours to fix the problem. If you cannot, call them and tell them what happened. Do not leave them wondering whether you have a solution - this is when they start thinking of your competition.
What you should do: Communicate that you are trying all means possible to help them out, even when you do not have a solution.
3. Questioning the customer's perception
The customer does not know your product as well as you do. They may fail to see at first the problem that you’re trying to solve. Their perception of your product is formed by what your competition offers, by industry norms, and by social norms.
For example, when I first started Hiver, most customers who were reluctant to upgrade to a paid plan had the same rationale - why come back to Gmail to do sales and support when everybody else it trying to keep you away from it. I never questioned their perception, but, rather focused on communicating how collaborating from the inbox itself is a much smarter way to save time.
The same principle applies when a customer approaches you with a problem. Be patient when the customer asks for something that you are presently not in a position to offer. Communicate that you will find a way to accommodate the request along with the steps you plan to take. It will make your customer feel more involved.
Remember: if you're on the receiving end of a complaint, the finest approach is to listen with patience and understand the issue.
4. Failing to be consistent across channels
How many times have you called a customer service agent and they were able to quote a tweet that you had sent them about the same problem? How many times has the service rep quoted your email from an hour back when you called, and told you that it’s already being worked on?
I am sure that most of us have rarely had such great experience with customer support.
Reason? Businesses fail to track conversations across channels. Communication channels more often than not, stand as silos. Businesses need to spend more time and energy on integrating communication channels.
The change can start with building an omnichannel knowledgebase that can be accessed by agents across channels.
If a customer calls customer service, and the agent is able to quote the comment the customer posted on Twitter six months prior, it will definitely leave a lasting impression. It’s a great way to communicate that you are listening, that you care. It builds trust.
5. Leaving customer conversations open
Leaving a customer email, or a tweet, unanswered is one of the worst things that a business can do to a customer. The customer is sure to get offended if they send an email and it goes into blank space. It’s one of the easiest ways to lose even the most loyal of customers.
In my last four years of talking to customers, I have always ensured that the last email on the thread is from me. It’s a great rule of thumb to live by.
American Express does this well on Twitter, ensuring all customer concerns are answered in a timely manner with a friendly and personal response, signed by the employee who tweets.
6. Being unfamiliar with the product and UI
The reason behind false product information and exaggerated claims by service reps is they are not well versed in your product’s functionality, and features. It makes you look like an irresponsible business. It makes your customer lose trust.
What you should do: Make your customer service team a part of your product sprints. Agents should be aware of, not only, the current features, but also the features that the company is building.
It’s important that an agent can talk about a feature-in-the-making when a customer talks of an unmet need.
It’s equally important for the agent to have a good working knowledge of the UI, or user interface. This will eliminate any disparate information going out and make sure your customers find the answers they need.
The only way to lose even the most loyal of your customers is poor service. Price and product will always come second to service. Building a solid product is not enough for a business to thrive; building solid customer relations is.