7 Ways Your Customer Service Team Lets Your Customers Down

The customer service process is a well documented journey along the path towards sales, as having good customer service creates return customers that can turn into brand advocates. Bad customer service, on the other hand, can do the exact opposite, directing would-be customers right into the path of the competition.

The overarching idea of customer service and putting the customer first might seem simple enough, but given the number of channels that customer service reps are now using, as well as the ever-demanding nature of what’s now become instant customer service, agents can sometimes forget the basics and, like many customers, can get frustrated with the process.

What are some of the most likely mistakes your customer service team could be making, and how can they change their behaviours to get back to serving the customer, with the customer in mind?

1. Focusing on the what instead of the how

The trick isn’t necessarily worrying about what the problem is, but how you can remedy it. If a customer is complaining about poor service, instead of making excuses regarding why the service wasn’t up to par, a good customer service rep should immediately launch into looking for a solution. Acknowledge the problem, but don’t go into too many details. Instead, rectify the situation swiftly. Even if the service wasn’t stellar in the first place, a quick solution will show customers that they’re valued and will keep them coming back.

2. Not listening to the customer

How a customer sees an issue is much more important than how a customer service rep sees the issue. Customer service reps should be properly trained to listen to the complaint without jumping to conclusions– there’s nothing worse to a customer than getting cut off mid-complaint with a solution that doesn’t solve the actual problem. Once they’ve heard and acknowledged the problem, they can continue with an appropriate solution.

Remember, the customer can go other places, like social media, to be heard, and once things go public, you could not only have a real customer service fail, but a PR nightmare on your hands.

3. Not writing things down

Given the number of different avenues that a customer can now use to communicate with a service rep, it’s really important that the rep records every interaction they have with a customer using their customer service or CRM software. Whether it’s on the phone, via email, through live chat, or over social media, recording the conversation ensures that if the customer has the same or another issue in the future, they won’t have to explain the problem again.

4. Not empathizing with the customer

Customer service professionals need to be trained to relate to the customer. Chances are, they’ve been a customer with an issue at some point themselves, and so they should put themselves in the customer’s shoes to help understand their frustration with the problem. How would you feel if you were overcharged $10 on your phone bill? Understanding the problem from the customer’s perspective, and communicating that by saying “I know how frustrating that must be” can go a long way in calming the customer down and letting them know you’re there to help solve the problem.

5. Not apologizing

Acknowledging the problem includes apologizing on behalf of the company, whether it was the company’s fault or not. It’s easy to get away with saying something like “Let me look into that…”, but it’s just as easy to add, “I’m really sorry about that. Let me look into it for you.”

If you want to go above and beyond, giving the customer a little something extra shows that you want to make it right. Even if it was a misunderstanding or wasn’t the company’s fault, it will go far in creating good will. You can end the issue without the need to escalate it further.

6. Not using the right language on the right channel

If your customer service reps are fielding calls, responding to emails, and talking on live chat throughout the day, they need to be able to adapt their style to the appropriate channel they’re using. Getting to the point quickly is better on live chat as a more instant customer service option, while calls are more conducive to in-depth explanations. A rep should adapt their communication style to suit these different mediums and give the customers the type of service they expect on that (and every) channel.

7. Blaming the customer

Everyone’s heard the saying, “the customer is always right”, and while that may not always be the case, in the context of customer service, it should be. A customer service rep who doesn’t believe in this golden rule is already losing at customer service, because going into it with a negative attitude makes it even less likely that they’ll be less likely to help the customer and turn the situation around.

If customer service reps are empowered with the ability to solve issues before they escalate, a company will see a huge return on it’s customer service investment.

Check out some of the best customer service apps on the market, and see how they compare to each other in our quarterly ranking, GetRank.

Originally published at lab.getapp.com on July 8, 2015.