Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid

John Krautzel
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Customer service is one of the most crucial aspects of a business. A great service department builds loyalty and delights customers; an ineffective department leaves no impression, or worse, turns customers away. By avoiding the most common and damaging service mistakes, you can create happier customers who are more likely to provide repeat business.

Failure to Listen

One of the biggest mistakes a customer service agent can make is failing to listen. Listening serves two main purposes: it makes the customer feel heard, and it helps the agent understand the heart of the problem. An agent that fails to listen is more likely to provide ineffective advice and leave the customer feeling frustrated.

Slow Service

When a customer contacts your service department, he is likely in the middle of the problem. A long response time feeds the fire of anger and lets the customer know that he is not important to your business. Even a simple response can diffuse the situation by making the person feel heard. In most cases, anything longer than 24 hours is too slow; for real-time channels such as Twitter or Facebook, it's best to respond in less than one hour.

Lack of Proactive Service

Great customer service departments are not only responsive; they are proactive. If your company waits to provide service until a customer comes forward with a problem, you may be quietly losing brand loyalty. After all, some customers would rather shift to a different brand rather than go through a long service procedure. Proactive service varies by company, but they often include post-purchase contacts to check on customer satisfaction, emails that provide helpful installation tips or self-service options on the company website.

Ineffective Training

One the most damaging service mistakes is placing the burden solely on the customer service department. Every employee should be trained to provide service, particularly those with frequent customer interactions. Otherwise, you risk missing opportunities to increase customer satisfaction. By spreading out the service responsibilities, you can reduce the number of complaints and help consumers head off problems before they affect the brand experience.

Lack of Autonomy

Some businesses restrict the freedom of their service agents, often for financial reasons. If your customer service representatives have no autonomy to provide custom solutions, you may be missing chances to retain customers. Comcast learned this lesson the hard way when a script-focused agent made headlines with a disastrous service call. Forcing agents to stick to the script can lead to frustrating, awkward calls that do more harm than good.

In the age of the Internet and social media, mistakes in customer service can cause irreparable damage to your company's image. Avoiding common mistakes can improve service and build stronger customer relationships.

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