Ten customer service mistakes and how to avoid them

What’s one of the commonest reasons for a company to lose business?

The answer is, of course, a client’s experience of bad customer service. If you’ve felt let down, or poorly treated by an organisation,you’re unlikely to go back for more of the same behaviour.

Here are some of the most frequently complained about mistakes that encourage your clients to head straight into the arms of your competitors.

No human contact

If you have an automated call system, make sure it includes an option to allow the caller to speak to a person. There’s nothing worse than going round in endless circles of ‘Please press 1’ menus, never to reach your desired destination.

Businesses need to be there to talk to their customers, in person or on the phone. Although an automated phone system can reduce call volume, clients will go elsewhere if they don’t receive the personal attention they need.

Leaving callers on hold

If you don’t have enough employees to answer calls, you’ll lose business. We all have a limited amount of patience and won’t sit around for hours waiting for a response.

Well-trained staff are able to bring queries to a satisfactory conclusion faster than a poorly trained workforce. Build a good team and increase call turnaround times.

Failure to act on customer requests

If a customer has asked for information to be sent, emailed, texted or phoned – do it promptly. Failure to act shows a lack of courtesy towards someone who’s made the effort to approach your company.

Ensure clear lines of responsibility are drawn up for all personnel. Lack of response often stems from poor communication between workers and an assumption that someone else has undertaken the task.

Non-delivery of a promise

Non-delivery of an action or assurance leads to frustration on the part of the client. It leaves them wondering what happens next.

Make it easy for your staff to remember to respond by giving them a database to take and store prompts and notes.

Delays in completing a job

Repeated delays give out a signal that you’re not fully equipped to deliver all that you’ve guaranteed.

If you cannot honour your commitment, then you need to explain why. Regular contact and honesty are key to smoothing ruffled feathers and keeping a project on track.

Asking customers to call back

The client doesn’t have to do the graft. You do. It’s a competitive market out there. If you make a buyer work too hard, they’ll go elsewhere.

Make it as easy as possible for your patrons to do business with you. If you cannot help them there and then, schedule a call back and stick to the time you’ve promised.

Rude or dismissive behaviour of employees

There’s no excuse for this one. A well trained customer service team knows they must always maintain a professional demeanour. Clients will not tolerate a lack of courtesy or apathy from staff.

Motivational training can help a workforce put personal feelings to one side and concentrate on fulfilling their responsibilities professionally.

Blaming the customer or another member of staff

If something goes wrong, it’s not the job of the customer service representative to apportion blame. The adage ‘the customer is always right’ should be followed. Similarly, passing the buck and blaming a colleague doesn’t improve the image of the company.

The representative should respond in general terms, and assure the client they’ll investigate why an error occurred. Then offer immediate action to correct.

Giving out inaccurate information

Customer service personnel should have as many facts to hand as possible. If they don’t know something, they should be honest and say so. Giving out false information is a dangerous practice and one that typically results in consumer complaints.

Train your team in every aspect of the products and services you have to offer. If there’s a query they can’t answer, they should tell the client they’ll seek out the information and get back to them.

Failing to listen to the customer

Ultimately, what a person wants is someone to listen to them. And listen closely. If you respond with an answer that doesn’t correspond to the question, you’ll aggravate the situation further.

Customer service representatives should be trained to take notes while they listen. They should be able to respond intelligently and not from a script.

The crux of the matter

In short, where do the majority of these mistakes stem from? Either a shortfall in the number of employees required to run a department. Or a lack of in depth customer service training.

Invest in recruiting and training a team of high quality customer service representatives. You’ll see complaints fall and business increase.