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Customer support mistakes you never knew you always made

Last modified on July 17, 2020 at 10:59 am.

Without customers, your business doesn’t exist.

It is a commonly known truth that your whole business plan should be focused on providing your clients with the best quality possible and exceeding their expectations. Nowadays, the customer experience consists not only of your product or service, but also of the way your customer feels treated. That is where the customer support team can show off, paying attention to every feedback signal coming from your target audience. Yet, what happens if something goes wrong?

Look at the statistics. To make up for one negative experience you need twelve positive ones, but chances are you won’t get any more opportunities: 91% of unhappy customers won’t complain, they will just leave. Therefore just one mistake may cost you a lot, especially when customer retention is cheaper than acquisition. We will cover some of the most impactful customer service mistakes to make sure you stay rather safe than sorry.

What should you avoid in customer service?

In terms of customer service mistakes, prevention is better than cure. Let’s talk about seven common customer service mistakes that numerous companies make: be sure you’re not one of them.

Ignoring messages

This is the cardinal sin of customer service mistakes. No matter if it comes as a result of negligence or a simple error, the consequences are severe. Imagine that 79% of consumers who shared complaints about a poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored. Sounds familiar? Well, a lot of brand crisis stories started similarly. If you don’t feel like sharing their experience, make sure each email, call or message gets the attention it deserves. You should also track the interactions below your social media posts. Here is where cooperation with your marketing team pays off in avoiding such a situation:

This Twitter thread was seen by over 76K users, and it became a classic example of a customer service mistake. The clue is that the message didn’t receive a reply for over 8 hours, which made the customer feel ignored.

How to ensure that all of your customer conversations end up in one place and get the appropriate attention? LiveAgent will lend you a helping hand. It is a customer service tool orientated on omnichannel communication that allows you to connect each point of contact you may have with your customer. Managing inquiries from your clients will become far more manageable.

Not listening to your customers

One of the most critical takeaways from customer service training is to listen to what the client says. With the passing of time, though, every response can become more automated and we may start to assume what the client wants without paying attention to their concerns. It seems like one of the basic mistakes, yet chances are it jeopardizes your entire customer service performance. Try to understand your customers concerns and needs better to make them feel heard.

Lying

While you may be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I can’t do that”, lying to appease your client is the worst practice imaginable. Yet that is the goal of 26% of lies in the workplace, taking into account not only the customer service department. In business, all relationships are built on trust, so you have to be able to back up your words with actions. If you can’t, then you are likely to lose your client, and probably risk a customer service crisis too.

Despite this, a straight up “I don’t know” may be not the best response either. Read our blog post to learn how to avoid saying it.

Changing channels

Reaching your customers over the phone to reply to a question sent by email may sound like going the extra mile for them, but they probably won’t share your opinion. Each person has preferences when it comes to communication channels, so stick that on which the interaction was initiated: no matter if it was live chat, social media or a message in your inbox.

Of course, if it is better to change the method of communication to make an interaction smoother, you can propose doing so to your client. Don’t worry about losing track of your record of communication – LiveAgent provides you with an omnichannel customer help desk. It means that you will not only have multiple communication channels, but that they will be seamlessly integrated too. No matter how your clients reach out to you, you’ll be updated with their contact history. This will allow you to preserve the context across all media without having to ask your client to describe the issue again.

When changing channels, ensure it goes smoothly. A situation like the following example is inadmissible: not only was the customer made to make a call, but they were also left on hold for half an hour.

Promising what you can’t deliver

Making a promise that is hard to keep may seriously damage the relationship with your client. Even though a commitment to do anything that will solve your customer’s problem may seem like an obvious answer to their complaint, it is actually one of the biggest mistakes. Promises that can’t be met can escalate the conflict and drown your company in the long run. Instead, provide your clients with clear information about when they can expect action, as well as other necessary details.

Also, consider that promising a little bit less in the first place gives you space to over-deliver later, which can convert your mistakes into success opportunities. A great example of this concerns delivery times. If on your website it states that you will deliver an order in 3 to 5 days, when speaking to your customers it’s best to tell them that the delivery will take up to five days. This way, you’ll make sure that they have reasonable expectations and yet they will probably be nicely surprised.

Look into this Zappos example: an under-estimated delivery time was the root cause of the problem.

Ignoring the data

…in the decision-making processes. Especially when you have a tool that provides you with all the relevant data at your fingertips. The common phrase “time is money” is becoming more and more applicable in the business, and especially in taking care of customer relations. Based on data, you can judge which of your agents need additional training, who’s the best in dealing with a particular type of queries, and where your bottlenecks are. That information will allow you to evaluate your situation and plan the development process accordingly. LiveAgent provides you with an in-depth analytics tool that will help you to make the best decisions by monitoring the most important metrics: time spent on calls and customer satisfaction, etc.

If you want to learn more about the Analytics features in LiveAgent, take a look here.

Not developing your customer service

If you have a feeling that you’re doing fine and all that fuss about improving the customer service doesn’t concern you, beware – it might just be the calm before the storm. In times when one-third of customers would switch between various services after just one bad experience, continuous upgrade of your support is a must.

What to do when you make a mistake with a customer?

Messing up may have serious consequences, but don’t lose your head. The most important thing is take ownership of mistakes and manage them in the most efficient way possible. Below you will find some best practices that help in soothing a conflict, so that you and your customer service professionals will know how to deal with those situations.

Apologize

Even if the mistake isn’t yours. This may be the hardest part, but remember that you represent the whole company. Saying sorry is the most efficient way to change a bad customer experience. You may even convert your unhappy customer into a brand advocate. Aim for a genuine and thorough apology, so the customer will feel understood and not let down with an automatic reply. Also, remember that a lack of apology or blaming someone else will only complicate the situation.

Empathize

Understanding the customers’ point of view is crucial for getting out of a difficult situation. The key action is listening to what they have to say, where they see the problem and which solution may serve them well. Your customer is a human being, after all, so a compassionate approach can work miracles. Be attentive to the way you communicate with them. In fact, a simple choice of words may make a big difference to the conversations you hold with customers. Also, try not to sound like you are simply following scripts, but rather – as much as your company policy allows it – give your customer service a personal touch.

Be patient

Your customers may be angry, disappointed or even mean, but you have to stay calm and professional to solve their problems. Here is where crucial customer service skills come in: patience, the ability to listen, and remaining in control of the situation. After all, you should be a support for your customers, so listening to them and dedicating sufficient time is an integral part of your job.

Keep them updated

There is nothing worse than having to call the support team (again) in order to discover whether anything has happened with your case, especially if it is a complicated and important one. There is also nothing worse for the agent picking up this call. To avoid such a situation, continuously inform them about the progress being made. After solving the issue successfully, you can prepare some follow-up too. That action may be the next step in converting your unhappy client into a brand advocate. After all, people remember best what happened to them most recently, so try to change their sentiment positively when the situation is resolved. Think about the criteria that you can abide by to choose the best cases for a follow-up. Try out various approaches and pick those that do the best job in your business.

How do you fix (or enhance) customer service?

If you have read the part above with a pleasant feeling of having them covered, take a look at what you can do to bring your customer satisfaction to the next level. Focus on four areas: gaining valuable data, putting it into procedures, providing your customers with better information, and developing the organizational culture. Working on the loyalty of your customers will not only be reflected in revenue, but will also keep you on top of the industry and bottom of your customers’ hearts.

Analyze

Customer experiences may provide you with a lot of useful information, and there are plenty of sources where you can gain insight. Depending on what information you need, you can try with a survey, ongoing feedback, benchmarking against your competition, or special tools for quantitative and qualitative analysis. Various methods are valid, but in terms of developing your customer service, you should focus on those that let you better understand your clients’ behavior. For example, a user session recording with LiveSession may provide you with valuable information,. A replay of an authentic session may give you guidance on how to improve your website UX, rearrange the content, or reformulate the copy so that it becomes more intuitive.

Create procedures

When dealing with a troublesome client, each of your team members can react differently. As much as a personal touch may be an asset, your company voice should be coherent and thoughtful. Among various tools that are useful in such situations, procedures that are written down and accessible for the whole staff brings several benefits.

By preparing your company for worst-case scenarios, your customer service professionals will follow clear guidelines. This will work as a support resource for your customer service team at hard moments. This kind of assistance helps in making difficult decisions and allows them to focus on providing your clients with valuable support. You can create some templates, for example, after taking a look here for some inspiration.

Build a knowledge base

Most of the solutions mentioned above probably sound like additional effort that will result in a tremendous amount of extra work. As long as we consider them necessary to improve your customer service (look at them in terms of an investment), then there is an action that can take a lot of pressure off the shoulders of your customer service department. When dealing with issues, your employees can gather the most common ones and create a knowledge base on your company website. Publishing various articles on a blog that explain how your service works can spare your agents numerous questions.

Mind the culture

After covering the basics, let’s mention a factor that influences every employee in your company. In order to excel your customer support and stay ahead of other companies, remember that customer-centricity should be an approach followed by everyone across your businesses.

By giving importance to your customers, you win in several areas. Firstly, your products will be better designed, so there are fewer complaints to deal with. You can be more aware of what the market needs and your services develop in line with ongoing changes, and rely on technology or automation to speed up the processes. You are able to support your employees to spark the spirit of innovation and taking ownership. Finally, you may build a relationship with your customers, so that even in times of economic downturn they continue to choose to spend their money with you.

All of the above ultimately results in higher revenue: research led by Deloitte states that client-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to those who do not focus on the customer. If you need a success example, think Zappos.

Conclusion

When you become prepared for the customer service mistakes that we have covered above, you’ll both diminish their likelihood of occuring and know how to react when they do eventually happen (because everyone can mess up). Remember, though, that it is not a single project, but rather an ongoing process. Globally, 54% of all consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago, so the commitment to developing yours in order to keep up with them is a must.

Customer support mistakes you never knew you always made

Andrej Csizmadia

Growth Marketer

Andy is Growth Marketer at LiveAgent. Previously, he studied International Relations and Business Diplomacy and was active as a volunteer in the world's largest student run organization, AIESEC. Running, music and reading books are his favourite free-time activities.

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