It doesn’t matter if you and your employees interact with customers in a brick-and-mortar store, over the phone, online, or via some combination of contact methods; you must provide excellent customer service with every contact to guarantee repeat traffic and increased referrals.
We’ve cataloged a lot of the most urgent entrepreneurial issues in the industry today. However, the issue of customer service is a recurring one. Businesses don’t seem to realize just how critical good customer service is to their overall success.
Customer complaints on review websites and social media networks can severely damage your brand and personal reputation. To make your business a success, it’s time to take another look at how you’re handling customer service.
Customer-service mistakes often result in the most complaints for any business. The following five mistakes happen far more often than they should at businesses in all industries. The good news is that you can resolve these issues with relative ease, and without spending a lot of money:
It’s vital that you know how customers prefer to communicate. With advancements in technology, many people have switched from in-person, mail, and phone communication to email, social media messages, online, and app chat. Given the ability of the internet to provide fast access to information and instant gratification in many scenarios, most tech-savvy people want instant or near-instant solutions to their problems. This is why most customers prefer texting or other chat options to calling over the phone.
When your business only offers slower traditional options, you risk losing customers who feel that you have an outdated mindset. Another issue involves how customer-service reps listen to customers. Sometimes a rep fails to listen to a customer’s statements. The customer then feels like the rep, and by extension, you and your business, don’t care about their need, problem, or complaint.
To correct these mistakes, invest in more modes of communication and consultative and active listening training for all representatives.
Consumers who expect instant or near-instant customer service results react badly to any type of slow response, such as hold times of 10 minutes or longer while waiting on the phone and email replies that take more than three business days. They also often form a negative opinion about businesses that respond too slowly to public online complaints on review sites and social media pages.
To correct these problems, hire more representatives and teach all reps how to handle responses in more efficient ways. To save money, invest in third-party call-center options or individual subcontractors, or offer unpaid internship positions.
Whatever you do, it’s critical that you respond to these complaints in a timely fashion to show consumers and site visitors that you care and strive to reduce negative customer experiences.
Your customer service representatives don’t need to have answers to every possible customer question readily available. That said, they do need to go above and beyond to help your customers. Far too often, consumers deal with reps who fail to provide them with appropriate responses. Some reps leave out essential details when answering a question or read from a script that doesn’t address a specific problem at all.
If a customer provides limited information when asking a question, your reps need to know how to draw out as much information as possible. Reps who don’t have an answer to questions should always respond with a promise to conduct research and follow up with the customer or offer to transfer the customer to a more knowledgeable person.
Although a casual friendly conversation about an unrelated topic is sometimes the right course of action to build rapport with a customer, many reps go overboard. Some agents “talk long,” even after a customer outright states that they’re in a hurry. Relationship building at inappropriate times isn’t the only problem.
Reps, especially new ones, often rely heavily on scripted responses that waste time by making customers repeat themselves. For example, a rep shouldn’t make a customer repeat information that they already preemptively provided at the start of a call, such as their name and street address. If a rep needs to confirm a customer’s identity, they should ask for additional identifying details like a secondary phone number.
Using scripts is also a serious mistake when dealing with angry customers. Most people dislike repeating themselves.
All of the worst mistakes with customer service often have a common underlying problem with efficiency. When processes are overly complicated, reps struggle with trying to provide fast service, which then results in frustration on the part of one or both parties. All of your customer service processes, whether face-to-face in a brick-and-mortar store or over chat, should work as fast and smoothly as possible.
To make processes less complicated, ask your reps and their managers for feedback about the areas of their specific jobs that slow them down and speak with customer service and business efficiency experts. After you receive this feedback, seek out customer opinions. Ask specific questions about the processes that your reps and managers pointed out to you, and ask them to supply you with information about any other areas that they feel don’t work well.
You can create an amazing customer service experience for every one of your customers. Beyond following the outlined tips, you and your management team should take time at least once a year to review policies and training protocols and make changes to improve customer experiences. Managers should also perform regular monitoring of customer service representative actions, and coach anyone who makes these or similar mistakes to improve their performance as needed.
Matthew King is the owner of the Startup Forums, Alkries LLC, and co-owner at TR King Insurance Marketing. Partner at Independent Life Insurance Agent Association, Medicare Training 101, and Final Expense 101. When he's not creating content about running successful businesses here. He's most likely developing processes, diving into SEO, or gaming with his friends and wife.
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