If there’s one business aspect that most organizations understand the importance of but don’t spend enough time improving, it’s customer service.
Since my first home-buying experience last year, I have experienced more poor customer service than I could have ever predicted. From smaller instances of companies not responding to requests for information to extremely frustrating occurrences of workers simply not showing when scheduled. Every time left me wondering “do they really not need the business?”
Many companies seem to believe that a single bad customer experience only impacts business with that company or person. Nothing could be further from the truth. The impact of poor customer service is like an iceberg in that it is far greater than what you see at first. Not only do unhappy customers end up going elsewhere with their business, but most report their mishaps to other potential customers — causing companies greater loss of potential revenue.
Biggest Customer Service Blunders
Taking a pro-active approach to customer service is the best way to ensure customer happiness and business prosperity. If your customer service department displays any of the following behaviors, it’s time to rethink the way you do business and the people you hire to communicate with customers.
- Failure to follow up
When a customer is waiting to hear back from you, don’t make them wait or contact you again to get the information they are looking for. Follow up early and often to remain in good standing with customers. They’ll appreciate the effort you are making to communicate with them.
- Lack of flexibility
You expect your customers to be understanding and flexible when something adverse happens on your side of business dealings, so you should be the same in your dealings with them. That’s not to say you should cater to outlandish needs, but being flexible shows that you value their business — an important component to great customer service.
- Unfriendly communications
One of the worst things a company can do when dealing with customers is to not be friendly. In a time where customer service experiences (both good and bad) quickly go viral, companies should know that the best thing they can do to improve customer service is to treat customers with kindness. There are a lot of other businesses they can choose to go to, so don’t think for a second that they won’t go elsewhere after even one poor experience.
- “Don’t care” demeanor
Going hand-in-hand with non-friendly communications is the “don’t care” demeanor. It’s human nature to want to feel accepted and valued — make sure your customers feel that way when working with them. Businesses like Zappos have this concept down-pat and, for that reason, receive huge amounts of one of the most trusted types of marketing: word of mouth. After all, in the words of Peter Shankman, “customer service isn’t about telling people how awesome you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.”
Don’t let poor customer service sink your company. Begin evaluating your customer service efforts and building a plan for improvement. And remember: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” (Bill Gates).