Customer satisfaction is one of the most important determinants of brand loyalty. High-quality service can make the difference between attracting a one-time buyer and a lifelong repeat customer. But not every company does a good job of treating customers well. To some extent, this is understandable. Good customer service may feel impossible to prioritize when tasks more directly related to your product or service feel so pressing.
But if you have bad customer service, it’s unlikely you’ll acquire or retain customers no matter how amazing your product is. Prospective customers are less likely to buy from you if they hear about negative customer experiences, and your company could even develop a reputation too poor to salvage. How do you identify and fix bad customer service? Find the answers below.
To improve your customer service, you first need to understand what qualifies as bad customer service. Consider these scenarios and whether your company is guilty of any of them.
Odds are, you’ve been there yourself: Something goes wrong with a product or service and you can’t get in-the-moment help from the vendor. Frustrating, right? Customers expect real-time resolutions to their concerns and queries, and it’s considered bad customer service if you only provide assistance on your own schedule. Ensuring support channels are always available is essential. In some industries, 24/7 customer service is the gold standard. If that isn’t feasible for your small business, include a chatbot on your website that can offer real-time assistance.
Customers also consider customer service bad when their issues aren’t resolved on first contact. The more representatives a customer has to speak to and the longer it takes to get their problem solved, the more annoyed they’ll be. An organization should identify the most frequent customer concerns and have a way of resolving those issues as soon as a customer reaches out. You can also use live engagement tools, such as video chat and co-browsing, to improve the average resolution time.
Incompetent staff with little knowledge about your company’s products and services also result in bad customer service. No one wants to speak to an agent who is seemingly clueless about the problem at hand — or worse, talk to multiple people who can’t address their concerns. Customer service staff who interact with consumers should be competent in their roles and knowledgeable about the products and services offered.
Most businesses don’t set out to deliver bad customer service. But if it’s happening at your company, these could be the reasons why.
Now that you know what counts as bad customer service and its possible causes, you can commit to transforming all your customer interactions into luxury-level customer service. Follow these strategies to improve your customer experience and build brand loyalty.
According to a study from call center service TCN, 69 percent of people say conversations with live agents are one of their most preferred methods for getting customer service. While it may be tempting to explore automation technologies to improve contact center operations, you should still employ strategies and solutions where technology augments human interactions rather than replacing them. Strive to deliver person-to-person contact whenever possible.
According to business phone service Vonage, only 13 percent of customers enjoy encountering an interactive voice response (IVR) system when they contact businesses. Similarly, 27 percent of customers surveyed hung up the phone upon reaching an IVR. This gets back to the preceding tip: Customers often want to interact with real human beings, not machines. If you’re going to use IVR, create a concise, straightforward menu that can rapidly connect the customer to exactly the right agent, resulting in a quick resolution.
Consumers expect customer representatives to know their purchase history, be proactive, and have seamless omnichannel integration to provide quick customer support, according to a study by customer service brand Hiver. In its survey, Hiver found that 23.5 percent of consumers define good customer service as interactions in which they don’t have to repeat themselves. Another 29.8 percent define good customer service as an experience with an agent who is knowledgeable and shows resourcefulness.
Having instant access to a customer’s purchase history can put your agents in the best position to achieve the caller’s desired outcome. Use highly rated CRM software and big data solutions to your advantage, and ensure representatives have easy access to as much information as possible when interacting with a customer.
Hiver found that the biggest driver of satisfaction when it comes to customer service is how quickly a question or issue is resolved. Customers universally want companies to direct them to the fastest path of resolution. Teach your customer service team solutions for common inquiries and provide them with resources that allow them to address customer concerns in a timely manner.
Although customers often prefer human interaction, there are cases where automated help is appropriate and can help customers more quickly than if they spoke with an agent. Identify situations when such pathways make sense for your customers’ needs and when talking with a representative would be more efficient.
Happy, fulfilled employees are more motivated to improve in their roles and provide customers with a stellar experience. Host regular workshops to train staffers on customer service phone etiquette and invite representatives to participate in group discussions to talk through common customer service issues and role-play different scenarios. Also teach agents how to use customer service programs that make their jobs easier.
As you invest in employees’ professional development, show them that you care about their well-being too. Work-life balance is a top priority for millennials and other generations of workers, so be sure to provide reasonable PTO options and, if possible, flexible schedules. Representatives who have periodic opportunities for R&R will be more productive and efficient than those who are forced to work to the point of exhaustion and burnout.
Offering bad customer service today doesn’t prevent you from offering great customer service tomorrow. If you take advantage of the above tips, you can improve your customer service and increase your customer retention and acquisition rates. Your company will gain a reputation as a brand that consistently pleases its customers, and that can lead to more purchases. With that, of course, comes long-term success.