Customer service is a term that describes the help a company offers to its clients before, during, and after they make purchases whenever they encounter problems, have questions, make enquiries, and more.
High-quality customer service is absolutely fundamenta in orderl for a business to be successful. Whether you run a B2B or a B2C company, you must ensure your customer service is top quality because without happy, returning customers there is little chance that your company will survive. Let’s check out the importance of customer service in numbers:
- 96% of consumers worldwide consider customer service an important factor when it comes to their brand loyalty
- 90% of customers are likely to be influenced by positive reviews when purchasing something
- Excellent customer service is ranked number 1 out of all factors contributing the most to the level of trust that consumers have with a company
- 89% of consumers switch to other companies upon experiencing bad customer service
- 70% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on the type of support they can expect to receive from the chosen company
- Increasing customer retention by 5% thanks to good customer service can increase a company’s profits by 25% to 95%
- 1 in 2 millennials complain about bad customer experience on social media
There are thousands of surveys and reports on customer service and the importance of its quality. One thing is certain, though: if you want to build a strong and successful company with a large group of returning, satisfied customers then you must provide excellent customer service.
If you think it is a lot to handle, you are partially right. However, instead of thinking about extraordinary ways to improve your current customer service, start with the basics and eliminate mistakes. In this article, we will share with you the most common mistakes in customer service and provide you with tips on how to fix them.
Mistake 1: not listening to your customers
How to distinguish good from bad customer service? Well, effective customer service agents will always listen to their customers. Most, if not all, customers, contact your support services because they have specific issues. Make sure you identify them during a conversation with a customer and keep it in mind throughout the whole duration of the interaction.
Gather as many details as possible and think about details that may have been missed or ignored by the customer. You really want to engage with their case in order to meet their expectations, so listen carefully.
It’s not just about listening, though. This applies to all of your interactions with a customer that could provide you with details they may expect from you to know. You must keep your eyes and ears wide open to ensure you stay at the top of your game. There is a great example of what to avoid below:
In this case, the company ignored the details that were right there in front of them and asked the customer to make contact, at the same time saying they cannot message the customer because they’re not following the company on Twitter. This surely caused additional irritation and dissatisfaction for the customer, on top of the already existing stress caused by the problem and the long reply time.
Mistakes like this can be avoided, provided that customer service agents learn how to pay attention to details and listen to their customers right from the start.
Mistake 2: not asking enough questions
Just like you may need to work a bit more on your ability to listen carefully to your customers, you also must learn to ask more questions. A lot of the time, customers do not know what sort of information you need in order to solve their issues or answer their questions. They simply reach out to you and describe what their issue or question is.
Gather all the necessary information
Extra things that you may need to access include order numbers, account numbers, payment confirmation numbers, dates that messages were sent on, or some personal data to verify the customer contacting you. Make them aware of your policies and the type of information you may require them to disclose. If at any point they struggle to find the information you are looking for, help them out! Ask what they are struggling with, offer more guidance, and ask how you can be of help.
Ask before they wave goodbye
It’s also important that you always ensure you have solved all of your customers’ issues or answered all questions before ending a chat or phone call with them. A simple “Can I help you with anything else today?” will do the job. Be patient, understanding, and allow your customer to take their time while thinking. Trust us, it will pay off!
Mistake 3: talking too much
Under-communication, like not asking enough questions or not listening carefully to your customers, can be as bad as over-communication. Over-communication occurs when you basically talk too much about things that are irrelevant and do not add any value to the case.
Be professional at what you do
Keep your conversations professional and centered around the topic of the discussion. Do not throw in any inappropriate jokes, unless you feel like it’s suitable and could do good for your company. The truth is, you never know who is on the other side of the chat box or phone line. Be aware of sexist comments, as well as those discriminating against religion or race. At all costs, avoid judging the customer and putting the blame on them, especially if you are not sure about the cause of a specific issue. It’s all about manners and respect!
Mistake 4: lack of empathy
Empathy can be described as being understanding and sensitive, as well as vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another person. In customer service, empathy is all about understanding what your customer is going through and also expressing your support.
Let your customers know that you understand and identify with their issues. Express your compassion when needed and approach their case in the same way you would approach it if it was you experiencing the problem. Nothing makes customers happier than agents who show they are on the same team as them. Here is a great example of how American Eagle respond to their customers’ problems with empathy:
What can you do to change it?
How to show empathy then? It is easy. All you really need is to start using the correct words. Maybe you already are empathetic, but do not know how to show it? Try using one of these sentences:
- “I am sorry we put you in this situation, I really hope to solve your issue quickly.”
- “Thank you for getting in touch with us about this matter.”
- “You are absolutely right, let me fix this for you right away.”
- “I apologize for this situation, what can I do to make it up to you?”
- “I have had a similar issue before, I feel your pain.”
- “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, let me look into your case.”
With simple words like these, you will change your customers’ experience and satisfaction levels in no time.
Mistake 5: not delivering what you promise
When it comes to customer service, it is always better to overdeliver than to overpromise. When people seek help from customer service agents, they pay attention to absolutely every promise made. Therefore, if you promise something and do not deliver, chances are they will spot it in the blink of an eye.
This is exactly why you should never ever make promises you cannot keep. It makes you look unprofessional as an agent, puts your company in a bad light, and sends customers back home complaining about your terrible customer service to everyone they meet on their way.
What wrong approaches and false promises lead to
Moreover, overpromising and under-delivering as a result often lead to:
- Depleted credibility - you will not be able to retain the trust of your customers or grow your business
- Negative PR - the common phrase ‘any publicity is good publicity’ definitely does not apply here, and stories about your bad customer service can spread quickly
- Weak cash flow - bad customer service works like a domino of issues progressively falling onto your company one by one, so do keep this in mind when you handle your customers’ problems next time to avoid losing profits
Below is an example of a tweet posted by an Airbnb customer whose honeymoon was booked after it was suddenly canceled by the company. We see here evidence of not delivering, as well as poor customer service. Waiting 2 hours on the phone should be unacceptable!
Mistake 6: not solving the problem on the first call
We all know how important time is nowadays. No one likes wasting it on making unnecessary calls or writing emails. When customers reach out to you for the first time, do your best to solve their issues during the very first encounter. Creating a positive first impression will leave your customers satisfied and will contribute to creating good brand recall.
What solutions are there?
A good tool that could help you do it is Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology used in call centers. With tools like this, you can quickly and effectively guide your customers through different options and make sure they are always directed to the right department. Not only does that allow you to save time and serve more customers during the day, but most importantly it also sends your customers to the right place straight away and as such increases the chances of solving their issue during the very first call. It is a win-win solution, isn’t it?
Mistake 7: not analyzing your data
Last but not least, remember about analyzing what you already have access to from your past experiences - rich data! It is absolutely vital that you regularly measure the performance and effectiveness of your customer service. You want to look at things like customer reviews, satisfaction surveys, or even listen to recorded calls.
Listening to conversations with your customers afterwards gives you a great opportunity to evaluate best practices for high-quality and efficient customer support. This is also incredibly helpful when it comes to optimizing staff training and workshops for new future agents. All of these things contribute to higher customer satisfaction, positive brand recall, and profit maximization. What is there not to like? It could also be a good idea to create a relevant catalog that potential customers can use to learn more about your company before reaching out to your call center.
Customer service is not as difficult as it seems
Now you know the most common mistakes in customer service and how to avoid them. Customer service is how to show your customers that you care about them and that they mean a lot to you. Happy customers mean happy companies, so do keep this in mind. Let’s summarize the key takeaways:
- Pay attention to details, ask the right questions, and keep the conversation around the topic of it
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and be empathetic
- Never promise what you cannot deliver
- Analyze your data and constantly work on the effectiveness of your customer service
We deeply hope you find this short article useful. Remember that customer service is all about your customers and they deserve the very best care that they could possibly wish for! For more tips on how to improve your customer service, make sure you check out our blog.