Savvy companies understand and value the importance of customer service. They recognise that providing excellence in customer service is a sure-fire way of keeping customers loyal and getting them to buy from you again. And if you’ve got high customer retention, then that will also benefit your business’ bottom line.
But being savvy and smart is not the same as being perfect. We can all make mistakes, even those companies who put their customers at the centre of their business. Mistakes can be put down to a variety of things – habit or making bad choices, for instance – but each mistake can be remedied if you’re willing to put in some effort.
Here are 6 customer service mistakes we see smart businesses making, and how you can either fix or avoid them altogether:
1. Using outdated systems
Some small businesses don’t use any type of technology for managing their customer relationships (CRM), meaning that they’re most likely to be relying on notebooks, scraps of paper and post-it notes to track customer service. You can have the greatest customer focus in your industry, but if you don’t have the tools that allow you to execute it effectively, all the caring in the world will not keep you from keeping your eye on the ball.
The solution: For larger businesses, ensure your CRM system is working for you and the challenges you face. It’s good to evaluate the system on a half-yearly basis. If you’re a small company, however, and haven’t yet embraced a CRM system, there are many affordable (some with free trials) to help you keep your customer experience a step ahead of the competition. Take a look at Insightly, Nimble and Zoho.
2. Being hard to do business with
If customers have to make an effort to buy from you, then they are highly likely to be disloyal and turn to one of your competitors next time around.
The solution: Look at the whole experience a customer has with your business. How much effort do they have to expend to buy from you? If you can’t make a process easier, then look for ways to improve customer communication and to set expectations early.
3. Forgetting about customers’ feelings
How a customer feels about buying from you will dictate their customer service experience. Feelings are often complex, but customers view the experiences they have with an organisation based on the feelings they take away. If your business is a café, for instance, you may be able to provide delicious take-away sandwiches but if the floor needs cleaning and the service is slow then the whole experience won’t have been a positive one for the customer.
The solution: Create a culture within your business that understands that satisfying a customer’s needs is only the start of the journey. The little things do really count, and it’s the sum of all the little things in the customer service journey that make up an excellent customer service experience.
4. Not following up after issues are resolved
If you’ve resolved a customer’s issue with reactive customer service, it’s vital you then follow this up with the customer with some proactive service. Following up provides you with the opportunity to not only ensure that the previous issue was fully resolved but also to fix any other potential issues that may arise. Equally importantly is that it replaces the previous negative experience in the customer’s mind with a more positive one – we only tend to remember what happened to us the last time.
The solution: Begin by taking time to decide what issues are the best candidates for follow up and which are not. Once you’ve established these parameters, make sure you have systems in place to follow up on the targeted service issues.
5. Making your returns policy difficult
Sometimes we just compound problems with further problems when it comes to customer service delivery. Just imagine, a customer may have gone to a bit of trouble to buy one of your products or services, but why then make it doubly difficult for them when they want to return items or change service plans? Of course, it’s necessary to be vigilant of fraud but often the hoops customers have to jump through to return something are unnecessary and do more harm than good.
The solution: Look at the figures. What would the average number of returns be if you removed or relaxed your current policies? Often, you will be surprised how much effort smart companies put into bothering good customers for very little return.
6. Delaying dealing with customer service issues
It’s not rocket science to realise that solving a customer issue on the spot is infinitely better than delaying a resolution. It’s the ‘now’ that counts in customer service and solving issues then and there requires staff that are trained and authorised to do so.
The solution: Look at your most common customer service issues and determine if your employees could help resolve these issues more quickly and effectively. Don’t ignore the legitimate concerns, but if you look hard enough, almost every organisation can find places where they can slacken the reins.
We’re all looking to create the perfect experience for our customers. And so we must accept that no matter how savvy you are as a business, we can still make customer service mistakes. Hopefully, this guide of handy tips will help you focus the lens on your own organisation.