Is the customer always right? Perhaps not, but keeping customers happy means always providing the best service regardless of who is right or wrong. Recognizing and then fixing common customer service mistakes keeps clients content. Read on: you may recognize at least a few scenarios that happened in your organization.
No Written Customer Service Policy
Customers often make contact several times while trying to resolve an issue. The situation deteriorates when they receive conflicting information from different representatives.
Create written policies that provide:
- A list of managers handling different types of issues
- Guidelines on things to offer customers to help assuage any irate feelings (discounts, freebies, swag and such)
- Suggestions on responses to complaints, from “I don’t know” to “I can take care of that”
- Techniques for letting customers vent while keeping control of the conversation
Uniform policies enable better issue resolution.
No Training in Customer Service Tips
Clients deserve immediate attention, with no delays due to a conversation between agents about their latest golf outing.
Some are naturally friendly and easily communicate with clients. Others are not so gifted. Train employees in customer service and social etiquette, from making eye contact with clients to always maintaining a courteous demeanor.
Not Using Technology
Outdated technology causes poor organization and lost records. This in turn makes businesses seem unresponsive.
Good Customer Relationship Management technology effectively handles and monitors customer service. It allows entry of details about each contact made with a client. This enables smooth resolution of problems. If your agency does not use it, chances are your competitors do.
Not Bragging About Your Customer Service
One less-than-stellar customer service experience may make clients assume future issues will be handled the same way.
If call volumes overwhelmed your agency, let clients know about your new call center, or the new agents hired by your firm. If inconsistency posed repeated problems, tell clients about your new written customer service policy.
Dismissing the Value of Great Customer Service
Even when a business states “the customer is always right,” its actions may tell a different story. Often, efforts to improve service are stymied by budget restrictions and/or disinterest by management.
According to SalesForce, a study revealed the difference in returns between stock portfolios, one with great service, and one without. The former achieved a 43 percent cumulative return, whereas the latter only achieved a 34 percent return. An American Express survey revealed that the majority of Americans highly value quality customer service and will spend 9 percent more at businesses providing great service. Investing in customer service improvements pays off.
Ignoring Social Media
Between Yelp, Facebook and countless other social media sites, plenty of businesses have been flamed by scathing reviews of their products or services. Social media offers great opportunities for marketing a business, but comments about poor response time or misleading sales pitches can undo years of careful marketing.
Social media requires constant curating of both marketing and comments. Forbes described social media as “the demise of many companies’ reputations.” Deleting negative feedback is a bad idea. Instead, respond to it, documenting your business’s steps to rectify the problem.
Failure to Follow-Up
No amount of excuses makes up for not responding for days to a client’s call. Keeping clients requires responding to them regarding complaints and compliments.
Insurance client retention requires prompt attention to problems. Aim for responding in 24 hours or less. Even a quick call during a time crunch lets the client know you received their message and value their business.
Not Keeping Promises
Unfulfilled promises to clients is bad business, something Accenture describes as “powerful incentives for customers to switch companies.”
The good news is an Accenture survey revealed 79 percent of respondents would give a business a chance to fix the problem before switching to another business. Some people are out to game the system. However, if a product or service is not up to snuff, or differs from that promised to the client, own up to it and make it right.
Complicated Help Pages
Businesses websites typically offer services from account inquiries to product descriptions. Sometimes clients need help online. Too many companies just post some general questions and answers and then call it a help section.
FAQs are great, but give clients access to more detailed information. Provide links to more detailed explanations, and a way to pose questions to the company when they cannot find an answer on the site. Keep in mind, making them jump through hoops for help may make them give up and take their business to a competitor’s site.
Omitting the Human Touch
Do not subject clients to the “voicemail loop from hell, as described by Janie Emaus of the Huffington Post. Callers immediately must make a many choices, from English or Spanish to the department they wish to reach. Sometimes voicemail loops even offer the option of using a company directory, which often dead ends in a full message box.
People are used to self-service and voicemail systems. However, sometimes they need to speak to a living, breathing human being. Do not force clients into always using self-service, and never subject them to an endless chain of voice prompts without giving them a link to live help.
Wrong is Right, Sometimes
There is always room for improvement in providing the best customer service. Don Gallegos, President of Colorado’s King Soopers Supermarket put a real world spin on the customer is always right philosophy: “The fact is the customer is not always right, but they are always the customer. Wrong customers spend money, so what is it you want to win: the argument or the customer?” Whether it involves swallowing your pride (or training employees to do so) or investing in better customer management software, the ultimate goal is creating a good customer experience.