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8 Customer Service Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

by Arthur Zuckerman

We often talk about how the customer is the most important person in a business. However, most interactions with customer services leave a lot to be desired. This is shocking considering just how critical customer service is to the success of any business. 

In the words of Tony Hsieh: “Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.” 

We couldn’t agree more. 

Customer service is one of the key drivers of customer retention, and ultimately, a healthy bottom line. 

So then, how do you up your customer service game? How do you satisfy their queries and boost your retention?

The first step is to learn from your mistakes. Then you can focus on adopting a customer-centric business model. 

But first, here are the most common customer service mistakes you need to stop making today:

#1: Not paying sufficient attention to customer reviews

Many businesses have made this mistake and most of them would take it back. There are many review platforms (e.g.CompareCamp) that allow customers to make their opinions about a business public. 

It’s crucial to pay attention to these reviews, acknowledge them, and learn from them. If you tend to get positive reviews, don’t ignore them. Interact with the reviewer and thank them for their purchase. This will help nurture the relationship with the client, and, in turn, make them more likely to come back to you.

If you receive a bad review or a low rating, one of the worst things you can do is to ignore it, or, even worse, argue with the reviewer. What you should concentrate on is making them feel heard and letting them know that you investigated the issue and you’ve taken steps to improve.

Don’t underestimate interacting with your clients even if they’re saying something hard to hear.

#2: Over-automation

Although using AI is a great option for many businesses, you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Don’t forget to maintain the human interactions that customers appreciate.

Kristin Smaby gives us such an eloquent answer in Being Human is Good Business:

In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.

Despite the fact that automation can make your life easier in many circumstances, it cannot replace human expertise. We aren’t yet at the point where AI can solve more complex customer service and business problems. Automating repetitive tasks with AI can be a valuable part of your customer service efforts. However, solving difficult issues and answering complex customer inquiries is for now best left to humans. 

#3: Reactive customer service strategies

Typically, companies tend to take a reactive approach to customer service. They regard it as something that happens on the back end.

This is equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.

Reactive customer service strategies fuel customer churn. Dissatisfied customers will often remain silent unless approached. And if not, they will take their business elsewhere.

In fact, from a study by Techjury, we learn that up to 89% of consumers have switched their business to a competitor after experiencing poor customer service.

To prevent this, you need to improve your customer experience on the front end. Prevent complaints before they happen. Follow up with customers instead of waiting for the phone to ring.

Additionally, you can implement continuous process analyses to improve your customer service.

If a customer service mistake occurs, rectify the situation ASAP. 

Reach out to the customer, own up to the mistake, and ensure they receive the best service. Most importantly, be sincere and empathetic in your communication.

#4: The forever hold

The indefinite hold forms THE pain point in customer service. It’s perhaps the most egregious customer service mistake.

So even if you’re “experiencing a higher than normal call volume,” don’t make your customers feel like jilted lovers. They are, after all, the reason you’re even in business.

One way you can work towards ensuring fast response times is by focusing on team efficiency.

Customers expect quick solutions to their issues. By improving the average handle time, businesses can demonstrate the value of their time to their customers. This, in turn, leads to increased customer loyalty. Establish a workflow management system that streamlines your operations across different support functions. 

Concentrate next on improving communication with your customers. In this day and age, your customers should be able to reach you across various platforms any day, anytime. Easy access to support is a vital aspect of building a healthy customer relationship with your clients. It’s also one of the main ways to develop your company’s reputation.

#5: Playing “Pass the parcel” with your customers

Bouncing customers from one agent to another is a classic customer service mistake. If you’ve experienced this before, you know just how frustrating it can be.

Your customers don’t want to deal with your entire customer service team. Nor do they appreciate representatives who:

  • Blame the customer
  • Blame other departments
  • Forward you to “someone who can help

All any customer wants is to talk to someone who can fix it!

Strive to resolve customer issues on the first attempt. You can do this by using call center software, the IVR menu, and the automatic call distribution (ACD) to direct the caller’s queries to the proper departments.       

You can also train your customer service team in striving to make your customers happy. 

For instance: if unsure, instead of saying, “I don’t know” and leaving it at that, a well-trained representative will reassure the customer by adding, “but I’ll try to find out.”

This shows a willingness to help and inspires confidence. It could also mean the difference between a poor or pleasant customer experience.

#6: No written customer service policy

Another common customer service mistake is the lack of a written customer service policy.

That is, a set of clear guidelines on how to:

  • Perform customer service training
  • Handle customer conversations
  • Handle returns and refunds
  • Handle shipping and delivery
  • Resolve customer queries
  • Guarantee customer satisfaction

The policy also gives a clear and standardized guide for customer service. It helps keep customer expectations realistic while ensuring consistent, quality service.

Note that your customer service policy should be clear and easy to understand. It should also be easily accessible to both your customers and support staff. 

#7: Inadequate training for customer support agents

Proper and systematic training is the best way to guarantee customer satisfaction. 

Unfortunately, most companies don’t offer adequate customer support staff training. Often, they merely direct their agents to refer to training manuals on their own.

As a result, their customer support staff is usually ill-prepared for the job. They’re unable to ask the right questions and understand customers’ needs. Ultimately, this results in sub-par customer experiences. 

Teach your support agents to listen. Even more importantly, train them to resolve each customer’s specific problem.

You can organize in-house customer training with more experienced team members. You can use call recordings, customer reviews and comparisons on review platforms, or various scripts to perfect the customer service your agents provide. 

Tip: Use your customer’s name to make the service more personal. On the flip side, your customer service reps can also provide their own names to appear more relatable.

#8: Not maintaining customer data and unifying documentation

Good customer service isn’t only about knowing the correct answer. It’s also about delivering the perfect solution for your customer’s specific needs.

The best customer service teams achieve this using customer service software

The software helps identify customer needs to create personalized solutions. It also creates unified customer data repositories. 

These afford service agents real-time access to fast and seamless customer support.

Wrapping up

Now that you know the most common customer service mistakes, you’re better prepared to avoid or resolve them. But to truly succeed, you need to do a lot more than merely avoid these mistakes. Taking your customer service game to the next level will help you convert new customers and retain existing ones.

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