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Top 5 Customer Service Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

October 17, 2018 by Ashley Watson - Last Updated: July 29, 2022

You advertise that your company provides “exceptional customer service.” But do you? Most companies who think they offer top notch customer service actually make some common customer service mistakes that can be easily avoided. Here are the top five customer service mistakes and suggestions on how to stop making them.

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1. Not Being Accessible

In the “Professionalism Matters Customer Service” report, “49% of respondents preferred phone to other communication modes for addressing customer service.” Given that statistic alone, it is vital that your agents are available during business hours. Offer an after-hours answering service whenever possible so that customers always speak to a live person. While it’s important to be available by phone, it’s just as important to give customers other avenues of communication, such as email, chat, and contact forms. And always respond to written communication or voice mails as soon as possible.

In addition to being available as much as possible, you want to make sure your customers aren’t holding for too long and that you’re not giving them the runaround. In that same survey, “71% of respondents rated the level of customer service they receive (by phone) as very poor, poor, or fair.” Most customers say they were not satisfied with a customer service experience because it several points of contact to resolve their issue. The more calls they have to make, and the more people they have to speak with to resolve an issue, the more frustrated they’ll be. Try to maintain a single point of contact for customers. Additionally, try to address their concerns as quickly and painlessly as possible.

2. Not Appreciating Customer Service Agents

Just like with customers, a simple “thank you” can go a long way when managing your employees. Offering a livable wage, benefits, and rewards for a job well done can go even farther. Studies show that employees who feel valued and appreciated will work harder and feel personally connected to the goals and success of the business. Dana Brownlee, founder of consulting firm Professionalism Matters, says, “Hire better staff, pay them more, and reward them for providing great service.”

3. Taking the “That’s Our Policy” Approach

Not being flexible when company policies are involved is one of the most common customer service mistakes. Avoiding it is slightly more subtle and may take some extra training from experienced customer service agents. While your agents should stick to company policy when resolving an issue, they should also know when it’s okay to bend the rules. Each case will be different, but let’s say a customer asks an agent to waive a late fee. Unless the customer is a repeat offender, it’s better to lose a little money than to lose a customer.

Keep in mind that every time a customer has a poor experience, he or she will tell at least 15 people about it. Or even worse, leave a negative review online. That’s why it’s also important to resolve the issue before the call escalates and the customer asks to speak to a manager. At that point in the interaction, the customer is already angry. Even if the manager resolves the issue quickly, the entire interaction will leave a bad impression. Train your agents to be flexible and to ask a manager if they are unsure about how best to resolve the issue.

4. Not Listening To Customers Carefully

You would think listening to customers is a no brainer. But many customer service representatives don’t listen carefully, especially when the customer is already angry. This often leads to a poor resolution to the problem, or no resolution at all.

Include listening skills, and even note taking, in your basic training courses. Search for exercises online that they can do to test how well they listen. Virtual Speech has several exercises agents can do together during training. And remember to train your agents to keep good notes and use a quality CRM for keeping customer records up to date.

5. Trying to Upsell Angry Customers

Again, this one may seem obvious, but this is another surprisingly common mistake. It’s also a good example of reasons to avoid sticking strictly to a script. An upsell attempt may make customers who are already irritated feel that the agent doesn’t care about them as people and only views them as potential revenue. In the end, you risk not only failing to get the upsell, but also losing the current sale. Upsell opportunities are important, but not at the expense of losing a customer. Lastly, don’t try to make an upsell that doesn’t offer any real benefit to the customer.

How to Avoid Customer Service Mistakes

Avoiding customer service mistakes starts with your employees. Do your customer service employees know where to get resources or who to go to for advice on customer service skills? Make sure your customer service training is consistent across all agents and departments. And make sure that they have access to materials that can help them work through different scenarios.

While scripts are sometimes necessary, they aren’t the only way to deal with customer service issues. Train your agents to resolve the issue according to the customer’s specific situation. If you are monitoring your calls, use an automated call monitoring system, such as speech analytics.

This will save you a lot of time compared to manual monitoring. You can develop better training strategies if you know exactly which areas agents are struggling with. Learn more about the business use cases for speech analytics.

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