We’ve all been on the receiving end of tremendously awful customer service at some point in our lives.
While it remains nothing less than incredible, with the level of competition in today’s marketplace, that any company could survive providing sub-standard customer service, unfortunately they endure. But if you can’t get rid of them, the next best thing is to educate them.
What are the biggest mistakes these companies are making that inspire such frustration, anger, and disappointment in their customers? I’ve composed a list of the 5 customer service practices that are destroying your business.
1. YOU LEAVE THE CUSTOMER HANGING.
This is the worst. There is nothing to frustrate a customer like ignoring them. If your company receives an email, voice mail, or any other communication, that is an invitation from the customer for you to assist them in spending money with you. When you send a customer an automated email that says you’re on vacation, “forget” to call them back for several days, or simply don’t respond to their requests, you are telling them that you’re not interested in taking their money.
Think for a moment, why does a company form? A company is formed to provide customers with a service in exchange for value. Therefore, the very foundation of a company is the idea of serving customers! When you ignore customers you depart from a successful business plan to a soon-to-be (if not already) failing company.
As a business, you live and die by your customers desires. They are the center of your universe. All that you do should be an answer to how you can offer customers more– that’s how you generate revenue and grow your business.
Here’s how to stop losing sales due to a bad response rate:
Make it a non-negotiable rule to reply to customer requests within four hours, if not sooner.
Don’t sign off for the weekend. You should have somebody answering phones or replying to emails 7 days a week.
Respond to complaints on twitter, yelp, facebook and other social media sites in a timely fashion and with the utmost professional manner.
2. YOU DON’T HAVE THE INFO.
Right up there with leaving the customer hanging is not being knowledgeable about the product or service being offered. Because knowledge is power, when your employees are uninformed they are effectively powerless. Customers are looking to be sold something, that’s why they’ve contacted you. The only way your company can fail now, is if you drop the ball.
Consider these tips to create a more knowledgeable customer service team:
Take time to train each employee and help them become experts in whatever product or service your company offers. Not only will this help them inform customers but it will boost their self confidence and give them purpose.
Go a step further if you really want to inspire your workforce and offer a sample of your product or service during their training. As they say: there’s no substitute for experience!
3. YOU’RE INCONSISTENT.
Inconsistency is almost worse than consistently bad. Think about your favorite restaurant and your favorite menu item at that restaurant; I’ll bet you that the last time you dined it was as great as the first time. And while you’ve probably even had better meals, you keep going back because you can rely on a consistently good meal.
It’s the same with customer service. People keep returning to a company that consistently proves their focus on great customer service. In today’s economy, consumers are hyper sensitive to the risk of trying out a new company or small business, largely because they have no experience with how they will be treated or taken care of. If they are served a bad meal will they be compensated? If their order is wrong, will it be remedied? Companies only have one chance to impress a customer when they’ve made a mistake and all too often those companies side with short term cost rather than building long term customer relationships.
Here are some tips to improve your consistency in customer service:
Train your employees well with a set of rules that are universal throughout your company.
Provide standardized customer service references for your employees to refer to when they get off-track.
Keep your employees accountable with monthly check-in’s and performance reviews based on their training.
Use feedback from customers for a different perspective.
4. YOU HAVE AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM.
Customer service can be stressful– but that is no excuse for treating customers poorly. Everyone has bad day just as everyone goes through ups and downs, but taking anger and frustration out on a customer is one of the fastest ways to destroy a company.
Companies with great customer service make sure that their employees understand that their personal problems should never enter their professional work space. This is because as an ambassador of the company, each employee must reflect the companies values, spirit, and goals. An employee is generally the first taste a customer will get of the company, so it’s important that they are an embodiment of the values the company wants to represent.
Check out these tips for a more professional customer service team:
Have your employees take a few minutes before their work day begins to get their head in the game. Sometimes an argument at home or comment on the bus can follow them to work and impact their performance. By offering a buffer period, you can give them time to get out of that mindset and acclimate to a professional space.
Get rid of workplace drama. Schedule frequent company activities or outings to help employees relate as a team or take a hint from Google or Facebook and incorporate fun and quirky activities at the workplace.
Train employees to assume positive intent from all of their co-workers. This trick alone, when utilized properly, works wonders.
Don’t let management go negative. Often, employees simply follow the leader, so the best way to create a positive and inspiring workplace is to be a positive and inspiring boss.
5. YOU DON’T FOLLOW THROUGH.
It doesn’t matter how great your company’s customer service is if they don’t follow through. Following through is the best way to build credibility, earn trust, and inspire loyalty in your customers. When a company fails to follow through, their credibility is damaged, sending customers running to competitors.
Here are some tips to improve your company’s follow-through:
Create deadlines so representatives know what’s expected of them in a given time frame. Go a step further and break down the steps by assigning a deadline to each. It’s the quickest way to tell if employees are on track with company standards.
Offer incentives to employees who beat deadlines consistently. Use incentives and motivators, during the process of following through to give employees the kind of motivation they need when they need it most.
Today’s consumers want instant gratification and flawless execution, but, unfortunately, most companies are unprepared to offer that level of service. Avoid the bad practices listed above, and incorporate some of the tips into your training and workplace culture to grow a loyal customer following. While most companies are struggling to catch up with you, you’ll be dining on their mistakes in a market wide-open for a company with great customer service to dominate.