Customer service is such an important aspect of every business that you’re probably drowning in advice on how to improve yours. But sometimes, it’s more helpful to home in on a few common mistakes that could be alienating your customers. Here are three things not to do:
- Make Your Clients Feel They’re Fighting to Contact You
This is really a couple mistakes rolled into one. The first is the extremely common problem of long hold times; if your customers are waiting more than a few minutes to get through to a representative, it’s time to either hire more or consider outsourcing overflow to a call answering service. Another common problem is that your customer service hours are too narrow, making it difficult for people who work normal business hours to contact you. This problem is also most affordably solved by outsouricing to after hours answering services. Depending on the type of business you run, you may need to consider a 24 hour answering service (these type of live after hours answering services are popular with doctors and lawyers, for example), or you may be able to simply have some more modest expanded hours in the evening or on weekends.
- Outsource to Unknowledgeable Customer Service Agents
On the flipside of the outsourcing issue is a problem probably everyone has come across at least once: having a call sent across the world to someone who is hard to understand and doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the company’s business offerings. If you’re going to outsource, whether that means full time answering services or just after hours answering services, make sure it’s to a fairly nearby service (at least on the mainland U.S.) that will specifically train its customer service agents to answer questions about your products or services. Remember, the way these agents interact with your customers will shape public perception of your company.
- Let Your Clients Trample and Abuse Your Call Operators
It’s often said that in customer service, the customer is always right. But holding to that rule too tightly essentially sets you up to be in an abusive, one-sided relationship with your customers. The brunt of that impact will fall on your customer service agents themselves, and you should remember that low employee satisfaction can hurt business productivity just as much as low customer satisfaction. Instead of doing anything and everything to appease customers, you should establish some healthy boundaries based on profitability, productivity and general decency, and refuse to step outside them. When a customer makes a demand, you can choose to accommodate it in some way or lose their business — and you should never forget that the latter is sometimes a valid option.
What other big customer service mistakes do businesses make? Discuss in the comments.