Lift the Landing Gear: 4 Customer Service Lessons

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

After an interesting customer experience, the Business.com CTO shares customer service lessons for small business and major corporations...

For business leaders, evaluating the touch points you have with your customers to curate a great experience is critical. In fact, it's the easiest ways to eliminate churn and to grow your revenues.

As a senior executive at an SME, I wear multiple hats. From being CTO to developing customer service strategies, I also book my own travel. A recent customer service experience with a major airline led me to this post and sharing lessons that every business leader should keep in mind. Note that my goal was to simply cancel a business travel ticket purchased for a colleague who wasn't going to attend a conference anymore.

Lesson 1: Make Sure Your Phone System Can Handle Calls

79% of customers still turn to a phone number when trying to reach customer service (ZenDesk). This is what I did. For an entire day, I received a busy signal  trying to call the number. I did turn to other channels during this time; however, lesson: if you have a busy business with a large number of people calling in, make sure your customer care team and phone system can handle the influx of calls. Customers are what keep a business running and companies will lose them if the customer doesn't feel they're being heard when it matters.

Lesson 2: Take It Off Social MediaWhen Needed

Today, 62% of customers turn to social media to complain. This is also what I did. Rather than try to reach Customer Relations via the email form on their site, I took it to Twitter. Big brands often resolve issues quick when they're posted in a public forum. And guess what? I got a response. The response: please follow the representative and then,  direct message him my question. I appreciate that he reached back out to me, but my issue is going to take more than 140 characters to explain. This is an opportunity where he could have requested I provide my email or phone number so that he could contact me directly. While the response isn't ideal, it's nice to see they're monitoring social media. Don't be afraid to take social customer service questions to other mediums. Chances are your customer will appreciate your business aiming to make direct contact to resolve issues.

RelatedHow You Can Be Successful with Customer Service on Twitter

Lesson 3: Keep It Simple

In the meantime, while I await a response I decide to use the "Email Us" contact form on their site to try to get in touch with someone in touch since the phone number has been a constant busy signal and the department is now closed. Things get even worse. Their form is terrible with way too many specific fields and a poor structure. It's so big it doesn't even fit on the browser window and asks for information that isn't a necessity. Why is my address required? Nonetheless, I complete and fill out the form explaining the situation and I get an automated email back saying thank you for submitting and we'll be in touch. Finally, the following day, the coup de gras, I get the response below via email:

Dear Robert, 

Thanks for contacting us. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

We sincerely apologize that our hold times were longer than usual when you recently attempted to contact our Customer Relations Desk. Certainly, our goal is to answer calls quickly and minimize any Customer inconvenience. While we typically experience a higher call volume when our schedule opens, or have a sale, allow me to assure you that we staff with these trends in mind.

[...]

Make sure your business is reading submissions closely enough to realize what the actual issue is. If you receive an email saying that a customer has tried calling and contacting you via social methods, pick up the phone and call back instead of just to say, "Sorry you had trouble reaching us."

Related: Improve your customer service standards with a CRM solution.

Lesson 4: Don't Forget Who Your Loyal Customers Are

I was finally able to call back in and get through to someone, who was pleasant and sort of helpful. But, after all of this and my wasted time, I'm no longer a loyal customer. Don't miss the opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Overall, a key take away is that businesses need to think through the integration of phone, social and email customer service. If your business provides all three channels, then guide them to the most appropriate one for their needs.

Have poor customer experiences shaped your future purchases?

(Image Source: stockimages via freedigitalphotos.net)

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