Guest Contributor

4 Common Mistakes in Customer Service

By | Simone Leighton

In an increasingly globalized economy, customer service has become more important than ever before. With your competition mere clicks away at any given moment, customers are apt to drop companies at the first sign of a bad customer experience. If your business is hoping to stay relevant for the long haul, it’s important to understand what customers want and overdeliver every time. Of course, avoiding common customer service mistakes is important, too. As you design your ideal customer experience, work to eliminate these all too frequent mistakes:

Mistake #1: Talking More Than Listening

Effective communication is the foundation of any good relationship. This is as true in customer relationships as it is in interpersonal ones. Too often, though, we’re tempted to over explain, anticipate a customer’s questions, and talk more than we listen. This is one of the fundamental mistakes of customer service. By steamrolling our customers, we risk annoying, frustrating, or pushing them away – even when we have the best of intentions.

Active listening can help customer service providers stay on the same page as their conversation partners. By being totally focused on the words someone is saying, we can understand in a way that validates and adequately addresses the things they’re saying. Most of the time, customers will tell you what to sell them. If you’re talking more than you’re listening, you might just miss out on what they want most.

So just how do you listen actively? Try focusing on what the customer is saying. Rather than scripting out how you’ll reply, really hone in on the words they’re using to describe their situation. Tune out distractions, even if it means relying on an answering service to help lighten the load. The greatest gift you can give your customers is your undivided attention.

Mistake #2: Forgetting Empathy

We learn about the Golden Rule in kindergarten. Treating others the way we’d like to be treated is one of the cornerstones of human decency. During challenging moments, though, customer service providers sometimes forget their empathy. They start to see customers as numbers instead of individuals with rich interior lives. When we forget about the human aspect of customer service, everyone pays the price.

Many organizations know they need to practice empathy with customers, but don’t know how to implement it in a practical way. Start by practicing empathy amongst your staff. Employees who are respected and treated well will, in turn, respect and treat customers well. Conversely, overworked, underpaid workers are far more likely to grow impatient and frustrated with their customers. By bringing empathy to every aspect of business, we ensure a customer experience that’s both satisfying and rewarding. 

Mistake #3: Making Customers Wait

Nobody enjoys waiting – especially these days. We live in the era of instant gratification. Conventional business wisdom might have you believe that customers who need something will be willing to wait for service providers to help. In reality, brands need customers to stay in business. 

Consider the waiting room at any doctor’s office. Patients are given specific times to arrive, but are typically forced to wait while providers bounce around from one person to the next. The message is clear: the doctor’s time is more valuable than the patient’s. Now compare this with the typical retail experience. Too often, when a shopper is checking out and the phone rings, employees will opt to answer. This sends a message that they’ve already got your business, now you’ll have to wait around while they get even more.

Unsurprisingly, such experiences can leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouths. We all want to feel as though we matter. Even when companies don’t intend to alienate people, waiting sends a message that the customer doesn’t matter as much as the other task at hand. That’s why so many businesses are opting to partner with phone answering services. By outsourcing calls to highly trained virtual receptionists, you can focus your in-house attention on customers and their needs. 

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Follow Up

Customer experiences shouldn’t end with a transaction. Instead, it should be an ongoing conversation between a company and its customers. Engagement is crucial to the success of any business, and if you’re failing to follow up with the people who support you, you risk losing them to the competition.

A proper follow up conversation can improve even the most negative of experiences. Not every sale goes as planned, and when customers walk away unhappy, they’re often left cold by the lack of follow up. By checking in with customers, you demonstrate how much you care about their experience. The simple act of sending an email or text can change the hearts and minds of those unhappy with your organization.

Even when a sale goes well, following up can shed light on what customers really want from their experiences with your brand. Improvements can always be made, but it’s impossible to know what to change without feedback from your guests. Alternatively, a customer may be pleased with the product they received but unhappy with the service provided. By following up afterwards, you gain a unique perspective on what went right, what went wrong, and how you can evolve your customer experience moving forward.

At its heart, customer service is about understanding what people want and delivering it to perfection. By understanding many of the most common mistakes made by customer service professionals, you can move forward to provide a better experience than ever before.

Author Bio:

Simone Leighton.
Virtual Receptionists Specialists, with numerous years of experience handling calls for various industries. Specializing in Medical and Wellness call flows and providing training on call handling experience. Simone resides in Virginia.

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