3 major customer service mistakes and how to fix them

We all make customer service mistakes. Errors are an expected part of every endeavor. However, remaining blind to the faults of your customer service strategy can mean a real hit for customer satisfaction, customer retention, and thereby for your business’ success.

This article will look at three major customer service mistakes common to many businesses, and explain how to avoid them.

3 major customer service mistakes and how to fix them

1. Customer service mistakes: You’re over-promising and under-delivering

The first common customer service mistake we’ll examine is one businesses often commit in spite of a real desire to do right by their customers. The impulse to make grand promises to customers is a laudable one. Long opening hours, multi-language support, short response times, what’s wrong with pledging to do your best? Nevertheless, delivering on those promises is often a different matter.

Make yourself available

The first pain point experienced by a customer when dealing with your company could be the difficulty of getting in touch. A common customer service mistake is being unwittingly hard to work with. Reduce as much as possible the effort expended by your customers when they need to reach you.

A prominently displayed phone number shows that your business welcomes customer queries and doesn’t shy away from the issues. Correspondingly, making the customer jump through hoops just to find your phone number will make them that much more irate when they do call you up. You could go the extra-mile and further minimize customers’ effort by providing a click-to-call button.

With the help of virtual or remote agents, your support team can function from anywhere, and in any language. Make yourself available to customers in every time zone and every language you deem worthwhile, without having to delocalize your operation.

Lastly, invest in a convenient voicemail service to make sure that no customer reaches out and slips through the cracks. Missed calls are a huge drain on your business, since 85% of callers won’t try you again if their call goes unanswered. This can mean a tremendous loss of opportunities to upsell a client or to help product adoption.

These are all ways to make sure that your customers never find you unavailable and unreachable, and that they expend the least possible amount of energy while trying to get in touch.

Work on your bedside manner

Once you’ve made sure that your support team is easy to reach, don’t make the customer service mistake of having a terrible phone presence.

In order to be a crack customer support representative, there are certain skills one must cultivate. In short, a successful support phone call is always polite, patient, and attentive. Start with a warm greeting to immediately install a climate of personable attentiveness. Give the client a chance to explain their problem and vent their frustration before asking them any questions. This will give you a chance to understand their issue and prepare a response. Listen attentively and avoid making the caller repeat themselves.

Following these guidelines is easy in the case of the successful resolution of a simple problem. If agents are faced with hairier situations, they might be tempted to match the client’s agitation. Rather, defuse the tension by remaining calm and bringing the caller down to your level. Or they might feel like passing the client on to a colleague. Avoid this if you can, since a customer will only get more annoyed if they feel like they’re being shunted around. Instead, encourage agents to take ownership of a situation, to apologize if they make a mistake, and above all to stay in control of even a difficult predicament.

Lastly, remember to follow up on clients after a support issue, regardless of how it ended. Let customers feel like you’re involved with them in the long run.

Reward loyalty

A customer service mistake businesses often make it to treat new business better than existing customers. But since the cost of acquisition of customer is so much higher than that of keeping an extant one (five time more, by some estimations), it’s a good idea to incentivize that loyalty.

One way to do so is to set up a customer loyalty program. This rewards recurring customers with additional benefits, lowered costs, or both. If you think a customer loyalty initiative is right for your business, keep it simple and make it fun. No one wants to figure out complex math to understand their benefits, and you don’t want the program to feel like a chore.

However, you could also do without explicitly equating loyalty with monetary rewards. Here’s how: make the use of your product its own reward. Accompany customers from one success milestone to the next. Keep driving them to fully adopt your product while keeping said product relevant to their goals. If you put an emphasis on customer success, your product will be directly involved in your customers’ achievements; this is the surest way to reduce churn and encourage loyalty.

2. Customer service mistakes: You’re disregarding the data

Nowadays, the benefits of data analysis aren’t restricted to large companies with a dedicated department. When it comes to the metrics of customer service, everyone can have access to data monitoring software in order to draw meaningful conclusions and make decisions accordingly.

However, data collection may be more accessible, but data analysis remains complex and time-consuming. Many businesses don’t make judicious use of their collected data, and therefore commit troublesome customer service mistakes.

Pinpoint what to measure

There are so many moving parts to measuring the success of your customer service strategy. Monitoring every facet of your performance isn’t a sensible plan. You’ll collect an astronomical amount of data, analyzing it will be incredibly time-consuming, and you’ll be hard-pressed to draw actionable insight from such a large data pool. Among frequent customer service mistakes is that of getting lost in the technicalities of performance monitoring.

Pick one, or a few, Key Performance Indicators, and structure your monitoring strategy around them. If your focus is on the performance of your support team, perhaps pick first call resolution, average wait times, or missed call rates. If you choose to concentrate on customer retention, measure your customer satisfaction score and net promoter score. To get an idea of your sales team’s prowess, track conversion score and average call time.

It’s also important to measure performance over varying lengths of time, and for varying pool sizes. Measure individual and team performance, over a week, a month, a quarter. The trick is to focus your analysis on metrics directly correlated to the areas of your business strategy you most wish to improve or perfect. By tweaking aspects of your strategy and observing the results of that change, you’ll stay close to your customers. This means providing targeted service and committing fewer customer service mistakes.

Use the insight to make data-driven decisions

Always keep in mind the desired outcome of data monitoring. This will prevent you from getting lost in technicalities. Posit a question, and let your data-collection initiative help you pragmatically answer it.

Involve your staff in this process. This will make their monitoring feel less invasive, and more like a group exercise. Bring in team members for regular evaluations in a nonjudgmental way. Commend your team’s strengths, and identify their weaknesses in order to organize regular training “booster-shot” sessions.

Keep the metrics you’re surveilling public and make your team’s goals visible to everyone. Studies show that setting clearly-defined, common goals and putting them on display will bolster your team’s performance.

3. Customer service mistakes: You’re not empowering your staff

The last, but certainly not least, customer service mistake this article will explore is this: you’re not enabling your customer service team to succeed.

If your customer service team isn’t properly trained and properly motivated, the quality of your service and your customers’ satisfaction will suffer greatly.

Hire the right people

Having a top-notch customer service team starts with hiring the right people for the job. This doesn’t just mean hiring people with the most impressive skills and background, though that’s definitely important as well. But given how long it can be to train and onboard new team members, it’s crucial to hire people whose attitude is a good fit right from the start.

There are many ways to gauge a prospective hire’s aptitude for customer service: tests, interviews, multiple-choice exams, etc. There’s not a one-size fits all method. Define what would make or break a successful hire. Pinpoint the skills and attitude you hope to find in a new team member. Find someone whose values and attitude align with your company culture. Put their personality to the test, as well as their skills and aptitudes.

If you hire someone, think of it as a long-term commitment for both your business and your potential hire. Ask successful hires for feedback on your hiring process, so that you may refine it and continuously improve.

Train your staff properly

The onboarding process is crucial for new hires. Properly training your team is proactively avoiding customer service issues down the line.

Impart to your new team members what it will take to excel with regards to your customers’ expectations. Some businesses favor a sink-or-swim approach to training, but in the end, your customers will be the ones to suffer from lackluster training for your team. Give new hires plenty of time to practice and get comfortable in their new role.

Empower your team

Part of successfully training new team members is giving them a sense of empowerment. If your customer service team feels like they can make their own decisions for the benefit of clients, then you won’t need to micromanage. Your agents will feel confident enough to tackle problems on their own, and go the extra mile for the customer.

Every Ritz-Carlton employee is enabled to spend up to $2,000 every day in order to fix an issue or delight a customer. Zappo’s 500-strong customer loyalty team is encouraged to regularly make a customer’s day (by offering free shipping, for instance), “just because”. These examples are a little out of most businesses’ budget, but the reasoning still stands. Give your team the confidence to take matters into their own hands, and really own the responsibility for excellent customer service.

A fulfilled team is more efficient

A Glassdoor study showed that for 2,000 people, the most cited reason for wanting to go to work was that they felt appreciated by their management.

“People don’t leave companies, they leave their managers.”

Tony Hsieh - CEO of Zappo's

Consistent and appreciative management goes a long way in fostering a beneficial work environment for your team. Set clear objectives, and be accordingly appreciative when they are met. Follow through on commitments made to your team. Never act in anger or in the heat of some other emotion, and basically lead by example. This transparency and respectful attitude will trickle down to your customer and make for a better experience.

This article is by no means exhaustive. But these three main customer service mistakes are a good start to building a more effective strategy.

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