Today’s competitive market offers consumers a plethora of options. With many companies offering identical products, the one area that can distinguish a brand from its competitors is exceptional customer service. Customers who have the option of purchasing the same product at the same price from two different stores will inevitably opt for the one which offers them better service. In fact, even when customers love a brand, 59% of them will stop doing business with it if they experience customer service mistakes.
Customer churn due to poor service means your company will have to work harder and increase expenditure to gain new clientele. Not only is this more costly and time-consuming than maintaining repeat clients, but you are handing your loyal customers to competitors on a silver platter. In addition, customers are quick to share their experiences online, and we all know that one bad review can impact your business for a lifetime. The internet doesn’t forget, and people with options rarely forgive.
Despite how customer service functions as the lifeblood of a business, many companies still fail to give this part of their operations the attention it deserves. To set yourself apart from the competition, there are simple, yet incredibly effective business practices you can prioritize to ensure you don’t lose hard-earned clients to poor customer service experiences. In this guide, we will discuss the most prevalent customer service mistakes and how your business can actively avoid them.
1. Not Understanding Customer Needs
Regardless of how fantastic your product or service may be, if it’s irrelevant to your target market, it risks a lifetime of collecting dust. You need to tap into consumers' purchasing decision drivers to show them that they want and need your product. Additionally, give them a reason why they need to buy it specifically from you. Your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) also helps set you apart from your competitors.
If you are not aware of your target market's deeper needs, you will fail to meet them. People comparing home security systems don’t want to keep intruders off of their property. They want to keep their loved ones safe in their own home. We don’t clothing shopping just to have something to wear in public. If we did, we’d all be walking around in trash bags. We frequent clothing brands and stores because we have a deeper need to be on-trend for social acceptance and to look and feel beautiful for self-confidence.
Everything we do and everything we buy is a portal into our deeper motivations. Use consumer behavioral trends and analysis to your advantage. If you can successfully tap into what your customers underlying needs and desires are, you can easily persuade them that you are the answer to their problems. Keep in mind that customer needs are ever-changing. To stay ahead of the times, you will need to routinely review your USPs. Not only does this ensure you stay ahead of customer desires, but it also enables you to uniquely position yourself from competitors.
Make the effort to identify who your potential customers are in terms of age, gender, life stage, occupation, marital status, and income level. Demographics play a large, often unconscious role in our day-to-day lives. Identify who your target audience is and their specific concerns. Then, go to bat. Explain to them how your product solves these problems while providing direct channels for these potential customers to become active customers. If your client base has a strong demand for online ordering and delivery, yet you fail to offer this, your client base may become a competitor’s client base before you can even course-correct.
Additionally, research what makes your target audience feel more inclined to buy from a company. For example, younger generations tend to show higher rates of support for progressive social causes (i.e., sustainability, fair trade, equal opportunity employers). If your company’s beliefs align with those of your target audience (authentically!), highlight these connections. This will not only yield one-time purchases but, if done properly, it will also foster an expansive, loyal customer base for years to come!
2. Having Limited Communication Channels
Another common customer service mistake is only offering customers support through one or two channels, with limited hours of operation. Consider people in different time zones and those who may work beyond the standard 9-5. Furthermore, not everyone frequents or has access to the same social channels. This means you cannot exclusively use Facebook, for example, as a website, e-store, and customer service channel. Social media was quite literally designed to keep us connected; embrace it rather than limit it! You’re the one inviting yourself into your customers’ lives. It’s your responsibility to meet them on their terms, wherever they may be.
Customers are constantly shifting between emails, calls, messaging apps, and social channels in their day-to-day lives. So, start offering omnichannel support. This is the practice of providing customer-company communication lines across various channels. You should always offer multiple communication channels, but if your customer base prefers Facebook, make sure your Facebook presence is particularly strong. Catering your service to your consumers will improve the customer journey and your customer relationships.
Omnichannel support comes in many forms. For example, the buyer journey can start with a social media interaction leading to a website catalog purchase. The customer may then receive a text or email when their order has shipped, as well as a follow-up customer service email.
Whatever your communication channel configuration may look like, it should offer a solution so convenient that customers don’t have time to second guess the purchase. There should never be a lack of communication or interruption between channels, as this can result in customers turning to your competitors.
Integrate multiple channels into your customer service strategy as a unified stream of communication instead of managing each one separately. This facilitates a seamless customer experience.
Helpware assigns a team with specialized skills across all customer channels (including call center, chat, technical, and email support) to increase your competitive advantage and customer loyalty. Outsourcing omnichannel customer support can take the burden off your team and also allows you to integrate multilingual and after-hours support.
3. Not Utilizing Customer Feedback
Over the past few years, customer awareness and expectations have changed tremendously, as has market competition. Since customer needs, choices, and preferences are ever-evolving with new technology and trends, it’s imperative to continually upgrade services/products. The best way to know what customers like, dislike, appreciate, and can go without is by, well, asking them.
Your customers offer a goldmine of information. Knowing them better than they know themselves starts with inquiring within.
To gain customer feedback, start sending out surveys, emails, and questionnaires.
Some easy methods of obtaining feedback are to send automated follow-up emails and surveys. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys require little effort on the customer's part and can be conducted on numerous channels. It simply asks them to rate your service from a level of one to five, allowing you to calculate an average CSAT score. This score can either reassure you that your customer service game is strong, or it can act as a mirror to make the necessary adjustments.
Getting feedback through digital channels such as social media, reviews, videos, and comments can help you understand customer perspectives. These also provide an easy path to communicating with customers to resolve problems or dig deeper into positive or negative experiences.
Though incredibly helpful, obtaining customer feedback is not enough. This information should be incorporated into a customer service improvement strategy. Valuing customer feedback so much that you institute real changes does not go unnoticed. It can very well be the difference between building life-long brand followers or losing clients to competitors.
4. Not Offering Personalized Experiences
Although many businesses successfully offer a smooth customer experience, many customers still feel like just a number. Personalization is becoming more important for businesses to attract and retain loyal customers.
With 72% of North American consumers saying they only engage with personalized messaging from businesses, and 80% of shoppers stating that they only shop with brands that personalize consumer experiences, it’s clear that personalization greatly affects purchasing decisions. This demand for personalization applies to all stages of the buyer’s journey.
With today’s digital data collection and automation tools, personalization doesn’t need to be a painstaking process. Start personalizing your customer communication by greeting customers with their names (again, it really is that simple). Remind agents to humanize their interactions instead of solely relying on rehearsed scripts. This can look like a support agent asking a customer about their day while pulling up a file, or using their name to sign off. Regardless, these small personal touches leave a lasting, positive impression.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems provide information on your customer's entire history with your company. Using this information to access past orders and preferences allows you to assist a customer without them having to repeat basic information every time. Asking customers to repeat the same answers over and over is a sure-fire way to 1) make them feel unheard, and 2) make your company look unpolished. These are not the characteristics of an industry-leading company. CRM systems combat this to make sure your name and reputation remain in good standing.
5. Improper Staff Training
No matter how great your product or service is, a poor customer service team will lose you customers and otherwise well-deserved dollars.
Your staff is the ones engaging with customers daily and representing your company. Your entire business will be judged according to its behavior and customer interactions. This is only concerning if you yourself neglect to adequately support your customer service team. Since they are the main drivers behind positive customer service experiences, they require training to provide the most efficient and knowledgeable service.
Effectively training customer service agents has shown to impact employee engagement, increase income per employee by 218%, and improve overall profit margins by 24%. Needless to say, adequate training quite literally pays for itself.
Train your team regularly and set clear and measurable goals for them to excel at their jobs. Explain the metrics used to grade their performance. Your agents need training on effectively using your knowledge base, CRM, and other software within your operations. A technical support department can be of great benefit to your agents and improve customer experience by reducing downtimes, delays, and other frustrating technical issues.
In addition to possessing full knowledge of your products, services, and software, your staff needs soft skills. Using the right tone and language with customers can help calm tense situations. Greeting and ending calls in the right way, using positive language, and minimizing the use of negative terms show customers that you respect them. An often overlooked aspect in training is covering some strategies for agents to avoid taking customer frustration personally.
Not all training needs to be done in a formal setting with a coach or trainer. Make resources available to your team that they can use to learn on their own. This can include software troubleshooting, product details, service features, operational procedures, and FAQs. Add links to videos when possible and identify problem areas where agents may need help. Your company is a team; you are only as strong as your weakest link!
Expand Your Customer Support Team with Helpware
Customer service mistakes can cost your company greatly—in both public perception and your bottom line. With so much of everyday life happening digitally, you need to ensure that digital customer support is always available in a convenient, personalized, and efficient manner. Helpware’s Digital Customer Experience service integrates technology to support ongoing analytics, progress monitoring, and strategic solution development.
Helpware uses consumer behavior data to create exceptional personalized experiences with every interaction—across all channels—to drive your competitive advantage. Get in touch with Helpware today to optimize your digital customer experience for improved customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and noteworthy profits.