7 Basic Customer Service Errors

Customer Service Errors

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January 9, 2016

Your product or service may be great – even world-beating – but the customer experience depends on how it is delivered. And customer experience, more than quality or price, is what determines whether that customer comes back. There’s no shortage of competition offering an alternative so you need to provide superb customer care. Here are 7 customer service errors that you don’t want to make.

1. Fighting with a customer
While the old cliché, “the customer is always right” is obviously not true, you do need to behave as if it’s true. If you try to ‘win’ on a point of disagreement, you’ll almost certainly lose the customer. What’s more, if the disagreement becomes an argument, that ex-customer will do all they can to dissuade others from using your products or services by telling everyone they know and/or posting negative reviews online. If the issue is a dealbreaker, better to just remain calm and terminate the relationship in a more adult fashion.

2. Pass the ‘parcel’
We’ve all experienced this, usually by phone. You call a business but the person who answers can’t help and passes you to a colleague. The colleague can’t help either and transfers your call to a third person, who is also unable to deal with your inquiry and recommends you speak with a fourth person… and so on. This game is a sign of having no system in place to deal with customers and inevitably results in the customer going to a competitor.

3. Delivery failure
Whatever you promise, deliver it. Whether it’s quality, a deadline, anything – don’t make commitments that you can’t keep. And if you do end up on the end of a broken promise, whatever you do, don’t try to justify it or excuse yourself. Simply apologize and find out what you can do to put things right.

4. An over-reliance on training
In larger organizations, customer service training is commonplace and certainly your people should be able to carry out any customer-facing systems and procedures you have in place. However, there is a risk to investing in standardized customer service training programs. First, as with any mandatory training that seeks to tell people how to act, there will inevitably be resentment from some of your workforce at being told how to behave. Second, what often results is customer service by rote, with the same trite phrases being used by everybody and the customer begins to feel that they are being attended to by robots. Customers generally prefer a little personality – a welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable personality but personality nonetheless. Far better is to ensure that your employees all understand the overall aims of the business in terms of customer satisfaction and allow them to achieve those aims in their own way; making their own suggestions of how to achieve total customer satisfaction (and building employee engagement and ownership along the way).

5. Policy vs. customer
Policies are necessary in business. A returns policy, a refund policy, a cancellation policy… But that doesn’t mean that they should be followed blindly. If the circumstances merit it then bend or ignore the policy. Don’t forget it’s your policy, you can do whatever you choose. Hiding behind the policy when there are exceptional circumstances is the best way to lose that customer’s future business.

6. Forgetting the little details
It’s simple:

  1. Get the customer’s name (and other personal details) right

  2. Answer the question the customer asked and not the one you know how to answer (in other words, pay attention)

  3. Say “please” and “thank you” and (if necessary) “we’re sorry”

7. Depersonalization
Form letters and emails are useful. They save you time when doing repetitive tasks. But customers are able to detect a form letter a mile off. Personalize the communication or you risk depersonalizing the customer… And not being treated like a human being is another good reason to go to a competing business.

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