8 Common Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Customer service has emerged as the lifeblood of businesses–be it big or small. A poor customer experience can cost organizations dearly, especially in times of a global pandemic. Don’t believe us?

Consider this: One bad experience and 91% of unhappy customers will just leave without complaining. Furthermore, 33% of customers will abandon a business relationship if personalization is lacking in the customer experience. Clearly, building a strategic CX strategy is the need of the hour.

If you wish to elevate your customer service and want to steer clear of the common traps, this handy guide is for you. We will look at the top advantages of delivering a stellar customer experience and then deep dive into the top mistakes to avoid, in addition to looking at the possible solutions. Let’s get the ball rolling.

Top-7 Benefits of Providing an Exceptional Customer Service for Your Business

If you are wondering about the 360-degree benefits of delivering exceptional customer service, keep reading:

  • Relationship building: It empowers brands to build a long-term relationship with the customer instead of solely focusing on resolving basic queries and FAQ-type complaints.
  • Customer advocacy: It enables the brand to turn prospects into lifelong, self-confessed customer advocates, which in turn can be extremely profitable for your bottom line. As per data by Bain, a customer experience promoter has a lifetime value to a company that’s 600 to 1,400% that of a detractor.
  • Positive brand image: Never underestimate the power of a consistently positive customer experience. Customers start believing and trusting in the brand and promote positive word-of-mouth publicity voluntarily. This, in turn, builds brand loyalty, according to research by Microsoft for an overwhelming 96% of consumers.
  • Better engagement: Brands that are able to sustainably engage the customer in a personalized manner enjoy an emotional connect with the user–a priced asset for any organization.
  • Lasting support: Research by AE indicates that 70% of consumers say they have already made a choice to support a company that delivers great customer service. In other words, if your CX strategy is on-point, your customers will support your brand through thick and thin.
  • Cost-effective: It is no secret that attracting a new customer is 6-7 times more expensive than retaining a current one. Hence, focusing on your current loyal customer base makes logical and business sense.
  • Better ROI: Data by Dimensional Research suggests that 52% of consumers say they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience. Needless to say, a positive customer experience leads to happy customers and a profitable business model.

The takeaway: Clearly, brushing up on and revisiting your customer service strategy is a prerequisite for organizations today, particularly in a vastly competitive business environment. Organizations need to constantly review and monitor how they are faring in the customer’s eyes and pivot if the experience is ordinary. To that end, let’s look at the common pitfalls and CX mistakes to avoid and what you can do about it by taking inspiration from real-life brands. 

8 Common Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

#Mistake 1: Not Understanding Who Your Customer Is

Brands cannot successfully serve customers if they do not understand who their customers are in the first place. This is not restricted to the traditional touch-points such as demographics. It includes important factors such as the user’s behavior, purchase history with the brand, and so on.

From understanding the user’s wants and needs to analyzing their pain points and challenges, it is critical that you get to know the pulse of your customer. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by creating an in-depth customer persona profile, as demonstrated below:

The learning: Brands don’t end up spending enough time and resources into understanding what makes their users tick–a big mistake. No organization, let alone a CX agent, is a mind-reader. Your team needs to have a thorough understanding of the customer to be able to ‘think’ like the customer and walk in the latter’s shoes. So naturally, deep-diving into real-time user data and extracting actionable insights into their customer’s behavior as well as likes should be every brand’s priority. Remember that the magic lies in the smallest of details related to your customer. This strategy is the gold standard of customer-obsessed companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, etc.

#Mistake 2: Lack of Consistent Communication

Another classic customer service area where brands fail miserably is lack of communication. In today’s digital age, customers expect instant answers to their emails, social media posts, phone calls, etc. Making the customer wait or putting them on hold is no longer going to cut it. In fact, research by Edison indicates that almost half of the people complaining on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. If you fail to respond to the customer quickly, you risk getting into the ‘bad books’ of the user for good.

Take, for instance, JetBlue Airways’ use case, which handles upset customers on Twitter like a pro:

The learning: It is no longer sufficient for brands to reply to the customer’s queries/comments, they need to do so immediately and act quickly. This is where using the right mix of tools can help brands stay on top of the customer’s conversations and comments, without leaving any user dissatisfied or worse, unhappy.

#Mistake 3: Incompetent Training and Tools

Your CX agents are your customer service team’s biggest asset. Every CX leader knows that. However, if you do not train your team members well or onboard new members efficiently, your customers will suffer in the end.

Considering that more and more support teams are assisting customers remotely, owing to the pandemic, it is critical that your employee onboarding journey is on-point. You need to provide them with the right product/service knowledge, support workflow, and policy knowledge so that they can assist customers accurately. You can use tools like Slack to encourage seamless collaboration between your team members and empower them to access information at the click of a button. Also, for team meetings and video calls you can use a secure video conferencing software like Tauria to encourage active internal communication.

Plus, you can always create a well-structured and comprehensive knowledge base as Hotel Effectiveness demonstrates below to keep your employees well-informed and in the loop:

The learning: To be able to deliver competent service, your agents need to be armed with real-time and updated information at all times. They also need to be empowered with the right tools to access customer-centric information 24×7 and with the right kind of training and workshops that can hone their customer servicing skills using real-life uses cases and examples. So invest in the right mix of technology and augment your agent’s skills to the maximum potential.

#Mistake 4: Absence of Real-Time Data

It is not sufficient for CX teams to simply track customer data. CX managers also need to monitor the team’s performance as well as progress to understand what’s working and what’s not. Since CX teams deal with hundreds of data touch-points day in and day out, they will require CRM tools that can analyze the data and extract valuable information from the data mine. 

Take, for instance, Amazon’s example that makes use of customer data to personalize the shopping experience from start to finish:

You can take your data-gathering efforts one step further by rolling out a customized survey among your employees and gather feedback:

The more your employees feel heard and appreciated, the happier they will be. The happier they are, the more loyal and satisfied your customer base will be.

The learning: At the heart of effective customer service lies data–be it employee-centric or customer-centric. The businesses that are able to use the data to their advantage will ultimately emerge the winner in the long run–in the customer’s eyes as well as from the employee’s perspective.

#Mistake 5: Inability to Drive Customer Feedback Initiatives

Your customers are treasure troves of information with respect to the brand’s biggest strengths as well as its shortcomings. One brand that takes its customer’s feedback quite seriously is Starbucks. In fact, the company has created a dedicated website called “My Starbucks Idea” to encourage customers to provide their suggestions, thoughts, and experiences with the brand:

Here’s a quick run-through of how successful this initiative has been so far:

The learning: Instead of delivering customer service based on guesswork or hunches, brands should encourage their loyal user base to provide honest and authentic feedback and reward users if they do so–as Signature Hardware does through its hyper-personalized email:

The idea is to motivate customers to air their concerns as well as share their experiences as openly and candidly as possible.

#Mistake 6: Not Demonstrating Active Listening Skills

If your CX agent is not an empathetic and active listener, chances are that your customers will leave the discussion angry and annoyed nine times out of ten. In their hurry to resolve customer issues, call center agents forget to actually listen to what the user is saying and go on auto-pilot mod–either sounding tone-deaf or insensitive to the customer’s needs as shown below:

The learning: Similar to responding too quickly, without hearing out your customer’s story, brands should let go of automated/canned replies altogether. It insults the customer’s intelligence, wastes their time, and makes the interaction unpleasant or worse, futile. To better cater to your customer’s needs, you need to have empathetic and active listeners onboard–ones who are willing to keep the customer at the forefront, especially when the conversation seems to be going South.

#Mistake 7: Relying Heavily on Scripts

Tying back to the previous point, customers today want a customized solution to their problem instead of a standardized and templated answer. Plus, using canned and out-of-context responses can cost your company dearly:

The learning: It is good and perhaps even necessary, to provide your agents with a handy script so that they can touch base with all the important points during a two-way conversation with a customer. However, this can create a problem if the script does not cater to the customer’s responses in a contextual manner. Take, for instance, the case of Siri which sometimes provide out of context answers that are downright frustrating:

So you need to make sure that if the conversation requires it, your agent/tool is able to personalize the interaction and provide a satisfactory customer service experience.

#Mistake 8:  Not Providing an Omnichannel Support

Customers today actively use a plethora of platforms to connect with the CX team–it could be by way of chatbot, live chat, email marketing, social media, and so on. So your CX channels should be integrated with each other, allowing customers to literally start the conversation from where they left it off–irrespective of the medium/channel they choose. 

The learning: In addition to looking after the traditional support channels, brands need to be looking at driving effective CX in newer channels such as Facebook DMs, Instagram messages, etc. The end goal should be to ensure that no customer query/complaint goes unheard or unnoticed. 

The Bottom Line

With the onset of technology, the customer service landscape is fast-changing. Customers today expect brands to exceed the expectations, not merely fulfill them. In fact, research by Microsoft indicates that 54% of all consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did previously. 

So it is critical that you make a note of the common CX mistakes outlined above and take proactive measures to stop this from happening in the tracks. To wrap up, here are the top-8 customer service-oriented mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not Understanding Who Your Customer Is
  2. Lack of Consistent Communication
  3. Incompetent Training and Tools
  4. Absence of Real-Time Data
  5. Inability to Drive Customer Feedback Initiatives
  6. Not Demonstrating Active Listening Skills
  7. Relying Heavily on Scripts
  8. Not Providing an Omnichannel Support

Finally, remember that when it comes to delivering an exceptional customer experience, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy that works. Every brand needs to first understand its customer base and factor in the business goals to create a winning CX strategy. What do you think?

Surya Ranjan Pandita

Surya Ranjan Pandita is a digital marketer. He is always on the lookout for new optimization strategies and loves to create actionable content.