Top 5 customer service mistakes you need to avoid

June 12, 2018

Customer service is the backbone of every successful business, and for good reason: these days, providing excellent customer experience makes all the difference between your company having customer satisfaction or poor brand reputation.

This is especially true for call centers, whose core activities center around customer service. Customer service agents receive many phone calls during an average day, and the customers on the other end of the line expect prompt, efficient and effective telephone service.

It’s definitely not easy mastering the way to provide excellent customer service, and of course, there will always be ups and downs on your journey.

So, to help you out, here are five common customer service mistakes, together with our tips on how you can prevent them. Check them out now, and make sure your call center is not committing these major mistakes!

1. Over-promising

Keeping promises is the basis of building trust with customers. There are few things more annoying than a company that doesn’t keep the promises it makes to its customers

Unfortunately, our experience tells us that this is not unusual. In fact, it’s a common customer service mistake that businesses make promises they cannot keep.

An example: recently, our team tested customer service quality at 10 African banks. They contacted them via various channels, including phone, email, forms, and chat. Out of the 10 banks, only one promised to send an email with the information they needed. Believe it or not, many weeks later, that email still hasn’t arrived.

Nowadays, when customers have an issue, all they need to do is to simply fill out a form or send a message via Facebook. In return, they expect a quick answer from the company’s customer services and expect these customer services to always be available 24/7.

As a result, many companies, desperately trying to meet customers’ expectations, over-promise in order make it appear that they really are available 24/7. However, the problems start when they find they simply cannot fulfill their promises.  

Our tip: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If your agents promise a call-back to your customers within two hours, then try and ensure that they stick to it. Remember, your customers may organize their daily activities around your phone call, so don’t waste their time!

Furthermore, you don’t have to have a presence on every channel just because your competitors do. It’s better to have less customer service channels that actually function well, than delivering poor customer service because you cannot handle the number of channels you utilize. See section 5 below for more on this.  

2. Negative IVR experiences

All of us have ended up dealing with an IVR system with long wait times when trying to get information, resolve an issue or request a service. Although the main aim of an IVR, in theory, is to decrease customer wait time and improve customer experience, in practice this type of technology has become fairly unpopular among customers. It’s true that a well-designed IVR can boost productivity and improve customer experience, but, unfortunately, it’s easy to get it wrong.

When it comes to IVR technology, one major customer service mistake often made is that an IVR system’s menu is simply not easy to navigate, and instructions are not clear. When using an IVR, customers will expect to have to navigate through the system in order to reach a customer service representative. However, going through a badly planned menu with unclear instructions will quickly make them more than frustrated.

A bad IVR experience will definitely encourage people to spread negative comments about your company. And as we already talked about in a previous article, you should never underestimate the power of online reviews.

Our tip: Triple check your IVR system well in advance before customers use it to allow enough time for correcting mistakes and ensuring your logic is spot-on. If anything is not clear, then it is likely that your customers will also have the same problems, and will struggle with your IVR system – which will only lead to negative feedback.

3. Information not being available

According to a research by Gartner, 85% of customers will manage their brand interactions without speaking to a single human by 2020.

In fact, today’s “connected” generation already prefers to communicate via text rather than voice. They increasingly search a company’s website for information and only contact customer services if they are unable to find the information they need.

It’s no surprise then that businesses have started to utilize self-service options on their websites for customers to try before they get in contact with customer service. Self-service options have become ever more popular over the last few years, as it means companies can set up a knowledge base or an FAQ on their website, which is far simpler to manage than other methods.

However, self-service is only efficient if you make sure you include all the necessary information required by your customers. A common customer service mistake is that companies encourage their customers to visit their website to get the information they need, but the information is either unavailable or difficult to find.

Our tip: Give self-service a try and you’ll soon see how much it can help your customers. However, when creating a self-service option, always make sure to provide useful FAQs for your customers that are easy to access. Navigating through messy web pages will quickly make visitors lose patience.

Moreover, only direct your customers to your website to get information if you have high-quality resources that help them resolve their issues. Again, a badly written knowledge base that lacks necessary information will drive your customers crazy.

4. Transferring customers between channels

The time when you could contact customer services on a single channel is long gone. These days, multichannel customer service allows customers to select from a number of channels – including phone, online forms, email, SMS, chat – while promising the same level of service. But do customers really get the same level of service when using multiple customer service channels? Unfortunately, often the answer is no.

A major customer service mistake is that they want to be present on several channels, but are unable to perform equally well on all of them.  Instead, to make up for their shortcomings, they keep transferring customers to other channels, hoping that the customer service reps responsible for those channels can resolve their issues. However, customers easily get frustrated when they are transferred through several customer service channels while having to repeat information over and over again.

Our tip: Instead of using every possible channel, try and focus on channels your customers actually want to use. Always make sure that agents provide the same quality of customer service on each of your channels. Furthermore, if you have to transfer your customers from one channel to another, ensure that there’s an exchange of information between your channels. You’ll see, it will make all the difference.

5. Untrained call center agents

Going back to our story about the African banks, 9 out of 10 banks did not manage to find a way to provide us with the information we needed, and the only bank who offered to send an email never did. Quite frightening, right?

What this example makes clear is that the success of your customer service depends hugely on the performance of your team. If your agents are not properly trained and motivated, then you can be pretty sure that the quality of your service will suffer greatly.

However, yet another common customer service mistake is that businesses often see training as an expense, rather than an investment. Untrained agents, however, will lack the knowledge that enables them to help your customers, which will, inevitably, lead to poor customer experience.

Our tip: Allocate enough time and money to train your agents properly. Instead of forcing them into situations they are unable to handle, give them plenty of time to learn their duties and get comfortable in their role. Furthermore, give your experienced agents free hand to make their own decisions when necessary. By doing this, you’ll empower them to resolve issues more efficiently on their own, and as such be able to provide exceptional customer experience. Finally, don’t forget to offer them feedback. As we already wrote about in a previous article, valuable feedback can have a great impact on your employees’ performance.

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