Customer relations is one of the most important parts of any business, and there’s plenty of room to make mistakes. When customer service goes bad, the entire company can quickly feel the effects. It can be challenging to bounce back from a bad customer service event, because the company’s reputation has been marred.
Customer service shouldn’t be a gamble; in fact, the owners and managers are in complete control. It’s too easy to let things slip through the cracks, however. Consider these six all-to-common fatal customer relations mistakes. Even one of these gaffes can be enough to send a company down the drain.
1. Poor Training
Customer service issues are almost always the fault of management, and it starts with poor (or zero) training. Every new employee needs to be trained on proper customer service, and veteran employees can benefit from ongoing training. Just because a person was a killer customer service rep at a previous company doesn’t mean he’ll know how to handle things in the new position. Make sure training SOP is in place, and follow it to the letter.
2. No Followup
Often, customers reach out to a company because they want to be heard and appreciated. All that’s required is speedy followup and a rep who truly cares about their satisfaction. An ignored email, unreturned phone call, or any other form of professional cold shoulder doesn’t just have an impact on that one customer. With so many options for online reviews these days, more customers are heading online to complain when they’re ignored. And that can cost you dearly.
3. A Bad Attitude
Smiling over the phone really does work, and customers can instantly sense when a CSR doesn’t want to talk to them. A single morning of poor mood can spiral into a customer relations disaster when it doesn’t need to be that way. Remind employees daily that their attitude makes all the difference, and encourage mental health days (preferably paid) when they’re really necessary. When the going gets tough for your CSRs, help them separate work and personal life.
4. “Please hold …”
Customers want to talk to a live person without having to know a secret code to make it happen. Similarly, getting handed from one department to another makes your business look disorganized and seem as if nobody wants to help customers. A quick response time is essential, and this is something that needs to happen from management down.
5. No Solution
Ideally, CSRs should always have a solution handy. If they get stuck, they should turn to a supervisor. No customer deserves to hear “I don’t know,” or “What do you want me to do about it?” That’s not for the customer to figure out; it’s for the CSR to deliver. Businesses should have protocols for every situation, but if a CSR can’t find a solution he or she should do everything possible to get help.
6. An Upsell
Upsells are only appropriate in very specific circumstances. If someone is calling because she lost her debit card, she’s already frantic and doesn’t want to be sold another savings account. Focus on service first, not selling, and try to keep the two separated. Customers will appreciate it, and they’re more likely to reach out (possibly for future sales) if they don’t feel like they’re walking into an old-school used car lot.
Reaching out to customers is both a skill and a talent. It’s a requirement if businesses want to grow, and it should be at the forefront of customer service. Whether it involves following up on a request or making sure the customer is truly satisfied, you should reach out without any ulterior motive in mind.