25 Worst Customer Service Mistakes and What They Cost You
We as customers are tolerating poor experiences with airlines, cable companies and inattentive wait staff at restaurants far more often than we should.
But what makes a support experience bad? Simply put, it’s when things start to get difficult for the customer. It’s difficulty of reaching a support agent, limiting support options or making customers wait too long for an answer. It could also mean not solving the customer’s problem at all.
It’s true that companies with bad service survive all the time. However bad service is expensive, erodes customer trust and hurts profit margins. If left unchecked, things can get worse:
- It gets harder to attract new customers
Since new customers are more costly to acquire than existing ones, your company will spend more money on attracting a new customer base.
- It reduces loyalty among existing customers
Reduced loyalty amplifies dissatisfaction in other areas of your business. It also increases price sensitivity which leads to difficulties in retaining existing customers.
- It leaves the door open to negative word-of-mouth
Not only customers share their bad experience with others without even complaining to a company first, negative reviews discourage prospects that would otherwise be interested in you.
Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 25 customer service beliefs, habits and misconceptions that wreak havoc on your business:
1. You think other things are more important than customer service
We all want excellent support – yet only a tiny 1% of companies consistently offer excellent customer service. As a result, business should look at customer service as an opportunity to set themselves apart in the market.
2. You think a bad customer experience stops with that customer
For every customer that complains to a company, there are over 20 that keep silent. But there’s a more sinister side to that statistic: One complaint can be picked up by 20 others, who are likely to relay it to their followers.
3. You don’t care what customers think about you
When customers have numerous places to turn to, their actions can mean the difference between your success and failure. When negative comments are ignored, a company can find itself struggling to attract customers.
4. You wait for the customer to give you an explanation
When something does go wrong, customers prefer to leave companies guessing. Customer service leaders should always know what their customers want – even if it means following up with every customer.
5. You don’t tailor service to every customer profile
Depending on the nature of your organization, your high-profile customers might also be the ones generating the most profit. They’re also the first to leave when you relax efforts to make them happy.
6. You keep forgetting that the “customer is always right”
It takes one misunderstanding or slip-up to ruin the customer’s experience. Do you look at the situation from the customer’s perspective? Many brands out there won’t even admit they’re wrong in order to keep a customer.
7. You’re not “WOW”ing your customers nearly enough
We don’t tend to notice when things go according to plan – but we certainly do when they don’t. We tend to recall events more vividly if they result in a strong emotional response – like poor service experiences.
8. You’re making it difficult for customers to reach their goal
Few of us look forward to contacting support – fewer still want to work for issues to get resolved. Unfortunately, organizations still make customers jump through hoops, putting them on hold and asking to repeat information.
9. You have no way of knowing if customers are frustrated
Customer perceptions play a big role in what they consider to be great service. Perception affects their view of your brand, their sensitivity to price, product value as well as reception to marketing communication.
10. You don’t think it’s all that important to follow up
Many companies fail to inform customers their emails have been received – even less ask whether service has been satisfactory. Companies aren’t aware of customer sentiment and the customer, in turn, feels abandoned.
11. You regularly put customers on hold and make them wait
When customers contact support, they expect the person they initially get in touch with to solve their issue. Sadly, over 25% of customers get transferred to another representative – a key reason for switching.
12. You’re not teaching agents important communication skills
When customers know more about the product than you – or need to explain crucial information to a service agent, it reflects poorly on you. According to HBR, rude agents is the primary reason why customers leave.
13. You don’t put a lot of thought into keeping promises
No one wants to admit their customer service sucks. A study by Bain & Company revealed that while 80% of companies believe they develop great service – only 1% of customers agree with that.
14. You’re not teaching service reps about empathy
It’s true that customers leave due to high prices, bad products or rude customer service. If you’re not being empathetic or personal enough – if you’re not responsive to customer emotions, you can lose them, too.
15. You’re ignoring issues that come up over and over again
Issues that do appear side-by-side aren’t being tracked by support departments. Unfortunately one large customer service issue can manifest itself into other smaller, unrelated issues.
16. You’re not answering social media questions in time
Social media is a rapidly emerging support channel – and many companies simply fail to keep up with the onslaught of requests. Even if they do, service inconsistencies can easily be picked up my customers.
17. You don’t remember what customers told you last week
When you don’t know that Bob that messaged you on Facebook last week is the same Bob sending you an email today, try as you want – you won’t be able to meet his expectations without a full conversation history.
18. You don’t pay attention to online or offline word-of-mouth
Online sentiment may not matter to customers that are familiar with a particular company or brand – but over 84% of prospects will simply not purchase from a company with bad reviews.
19. You’re mistaking customer silence for satisfaction
Many companies mistakenly believe that if they don’t hear from a customer, there’s nothing to worry about. Wrong! Chances are, customers don’t know how to reach you or don’t think it will make a difference.
20. You’re not paying attention to what customers say
When you don’t keep track of conversations or don’t properly document them, customers are forced to repeat themselves. This is particularly frustrating because customers perceive your support as incompetent.
21. You’re writing off service speed as not important
The majority of customers think it just takes too long to reach a support agent. And it’s a constant source of friction – customers want their issues acknowledged and solved by a competent individual.
22. You think frustrated customers will come back later
It’s dangerous to assume that customers want to come back after a bad experience. When they choose to leave, they rarely change their mind. That is, unless you apologize and resolve their complaints – then they may reconsider.
23. You believe one support channel is enough
When support systems aren’t integrated between each other, it becomes difficult to meet customer expectations. Customers expect fluid communication between support agents, support channels and company departments.
24. You’re not collecting and acting on customer feedback
Collecting feedback is a must for organizations that want to build products their customers want and need. There’s more: it helps identify friction points and improve the user experience.
25. You honestly think you’re doing a great job
Want to know what customers want? Understand what’s important to them. It’s not enough to do what they ask or occasionally surprise them with good news. Offer to fill in a form, provide relevant, timely suggestions or promotions.
Don’t leave customers to their own devices
Customer service is a primary source of differentiation and today’s ultimate competitive battleground.
But it’s also a double-edged sword: poor service costs business an incredible amount in preventable losses! It’s not all doom and gloom however – small changes in the customer experience can pave the way for greater engagement and sustainable sales growth.
So while bad service is a ticking time bomb, great service is an investment that is sure to pay off in the form of more sales, positive feedback and happier customers.
- It gets harder to attract new customers