You’ve worked your fingers to the bone to build a strong business that can survive the test of time. You have it all: highly-trained team, top-notch products and agile systems that promise to over-deliver. You’ve trounced all the bootstrapping ghosts that threatened to derail your huge ambition. Congratulations! You are a shrewd entrepreneur. While everything looks good to you, your business is still struggling to stay afloat in a turbulent sea of competition. Sales volumes are dwindling. No referrals are coming your way. And you are increasingly getting worried.
Your biggest undoing? Your customer service stinks. Sooner rather than later, your business might come tumbling down like a pack of cards. Since a customer service makes the backbone of any successful business, you can’t afford to turn off a customer. Here are munchable customer service mistakes that may be contributing to that “I’m not buying anything from you again.”
Sometimes, adopting technology can be a curse cloaked in a thin layer of blessings. While the urge to automate everything to cut costs may be so strong, you shouldn’t automate just because you can. Technology can’t provide perfect replacement of that “one-on-one” experience. You can’t afford to erase all direct contact you have with the customer. Plus, different customers prefer different modes of communication. According to Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters, a consulting firm that handles communication bottlenecks, you need to “give the options” so that your customers are not treated to “the frustrating phone trees.” Where possible, provide phone numbers, live chats, emails through which your customers can reach you.
If you do choose to rely on automation (and it certainly has its benefits), be sure your automated emails sound natural and personal. Download the free e-book, “This Time, It’s Personal” to get more tips on using automation the right way.
2. Urge to handle customers as quickly as possible
Customers are always looking for efficient and respectful solutions. The problem is that many reps are trying to be speedy and that affects their ability to listen. You need to take time to listen to your customers, understand their specific problem, and offer a solution that solves their problem. Most representatives always assume they know what the customer wants. And when they pick calls from their customer, they rush to give them a solution to their factious problem. Finally, your disgruntled customer will end up resenting your company. To avoid losing customers, teach your customer representatives effective listening skills. Teach them how to develop processes that prioritize listening to customers. Encourage them to get rid of the scripts and work with the customer.
3. Being satisfied with small wins
Avoid taking a reactive position. Instead be proactive when dealing with your customers. Customer service always happens on the front-end of your business. Not back-end affair. Find ways of winning the hearts of your customers on the front-end. Concentrate more on one-to-one interaction—calls, messages, and live chats. To succeed, conduct process analysis of your products, root causes, and improvements that can really give your products a competitive edge. Also, to maintain a connection with the customer, Brownlee recommends taking at least “five customer service calls” every month.
4. System outages
Truth is, no system has a perfect uptime. Even the most acclaimed cloud-based systems have their fair share of trouble when this outage monster strikes. The tragedy is, if your customers can’t reach you, all of the midnight oil you burned grooming your business will be in vain. At the end of the day, you want to make a positive impression.
So to be on the safe side, look for a reputable web service provider that offers fast page loading time and a reliable round-the-clock uptime. For those who provide support via email and telephone, ensure that your customer can reach you during the hours you promise support. If you are not reachable after hours, build a system that allows them to put in a request or a ticket. Then call back when you are available.
5. Slow turnaround
Today, ordering anything on demand is just a click away. Thanks to the power of technology, we have completely become impatient. We want everything fashioned in terms of “quick turnaround time.” Customers will frown at you if keep them waiting. The speedy response will draw them in, winning their long-term loyalty to your company. Respond promptly to your customers’ questions and feedback on social media. Otherwise, your competition will be laughing all the way to the bank.
6. Undervaluing customer service team
Your customer representatives are the people that interact with your customers. They make up the face of your business. Unfortunately, they also tend to be the lowest paid and regarded employees. Sinking their morale will sink your business to rock bottom. You have to find a way of motivating them so they can go an extra mile to satisfy your customers. Also, hire top talent, pay them well, and reward them whenever they post great results. You will also attract top talent to your service desk if you build a reputation treating your employees well.
7. No complaints ≠ good customer service
You are always working hard to get to your customers. You have trained your staff to handle different questions. You don’t want them to give awkward answers that may alienate your customers. And you are happy that you are not getting any complaints. Don’t mistakenly think that because you are not getting any complaints, your customer service is pretty good. Studies have shown that only 1 out of 26 disgruntled customers will complain. And that means for every complaint you receive, there are another 25 dissatisfied customers who don’t bother to complain. On the flip side, if are receiving an avalanche of compliments and little to no complaints, you have reason to smile. Maybe you are doing things right.
Businesses are all about balance sheets. No one wants to be treated to a horrible customer experience. If your customer representatives are not up to the mark, it will be the surest way to send your business to the bin. As a shrewd businesses owner, you need to create an environment that pumps up employees’ morale so that they can offer excellent customer service.
* Sanjay Darji works as a software analyst at SoftwareSuggest. His interests include CRM software, helpdesk software, photography, and food. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his son and catch up on the latest technologies. You can follow him on Twitter at @sanjaydarji01.*