Running a business is replete with challenges. When we start to provide a service, we naturally have to expect some bounce back. Customer problems come in a wide variety of forms. When it comes to the concept of customer service, it is something that is continually evolving. And as businesses evolve with it, they have grown more concerned with how customers are treated. In the age of social media, it only takes one bad experience for the customer to stay away from you forever. But on the other side of the coin, excellent customer experience could keep them for life. What are the key problems? And how can we solve them?
Long Response Times
A surprisingly common issue in the modern-day. The fact is, we live in the modern world, and when a customer is on hold for hours on end, this gives the customer the perfect amount of time to stew in their own juices, meaning they will explode as soon as you pick up the phone. Customers expect communication to be instant. But in addition, they want an immediate resolution of their problem. This is arguably the most common issue with customer service. This can occur for many reasons. For example, the company might not hold itself accountable because the agent does not. The company may not have a standard set of practices to evaluate responses effectively. Also, agents may not be trained to handle a wide variety of techniques. But also, sometimes the issue is down to technology.
If we start to diversify our abilities to communicate with the customer, we are solving their problems on their terms. Not many customers like to be put on hold for hours on end, which is why they turn to web chat. It’s very easy for businesses to incorporate webchat these days. There’s even software so you can put web chat on your website, which helps to speed the process. But this can throw other issues into the mix. When you start to utilize automation to take care of some of the more repetitive tasks, this can have a positive impact on the workflow.
These days, people are using what is termed as “canned responses.” This is where we can use certain digital stock phrases and responses so we only have to immediately deal with very specific problems. But in addition to this, if you start to allow your customers to contact you through a wide variety of channels including email, and even text messages, you can fare better with the customer. We have to remember that if a customer problem is left unattended, they can, and will, get frustrated. We have to address their issues quickly, especially if they are waiting a long time.
If a Customer Service Agent Is Rude
A very common complaint. When a customer service agent is rude to the client, this can be a very difficult situation to bounce back from. When a customer is particularly irate, it doesn’t give the agent the license to be rude. But we have to see why this would be the case in the first place.
Sometimes the customer can be someone who constantly challenges the situation, or the customer is trying to provoke the agent. In addition, the customer service agent may have personal issues, which they were unable to put to one side. When faced with a situation, it’s important to remember that we are only human. Learning to upskill our team in soft skills through development programs and ongoing training will help them to dial-up their abilities to empathize. Empathy is crucial, even if a customer behaves badly. This means that we need the right type of person that can deal with customer issues.
We tend to focus on experience as the benchmark. But people with the “right” experience may be set in their ways, which can result in a lot of conflict. In addition, it’s about the importance of owning our relationship with the customer at that moment. Sometimes, a customer will demand to speak to the line manager. And this is their prerogative because they’re not getting the answers they want from the customer service agent. But as long as the customer service agent has used everything in their toolbox to take care of the problem, but the customer is still not playing ball, this is when it should be passed up higher, such as to a line manager.
Customer Service Agents Do Not Listen Carefully
One of the hallmarks of contact centers is having a wide variety of people there purely to fulfill the quota. Customer service problems can start due to the customer feeling like they’re not being listened to. If you do not listen carefully to what the customer says, you can find yourself caught off-guard, and try to talk yourself out of a situation you do not know about. But while customer service agents may not want to have to listen to customers complaining for hours on end, it is vital to give their full attention.
Sometimes, we can find ourselves in the situation because the customer cannot explain themselves, or we do not know the answer to the issue because we did not listen. This is why it’s important for customer service agents to double-check the issue before they start solving the problem. This will clarify the case on both sides.
In addition, if a customer service agent does not have a solution, it’s important to be truthful and admit it right away. They should also offer an apology. Sometimes, customers are only looking for an acknowledgment of a mistake made by a business. This can be the most important stepping stone to regaining trust. But the biggest technique customer service agents can use at this point is to incorporate active listening.
Being Unable to Offer a Solution
When we are not able to solve a customer problem, we can find ourselves in a very tricky, and potentially embarrassing situation. If the customer is already annoyed, this will only add fuel to the fire. Customer service reps are people, and while the business demands that customer service agents try to provide a solution on the first contact, this doesn’t always occur. Sometimes it can be because the business has not encountered this problem before. Or, the customer service agent has not had training in this relevant issue, or they are brand new to the company.
Many customer service agents that start out on the telephone may find themselves being thrown in at the deep end. This is greatly unfair to the customer service agent. But it is your prerogative, as a business, to provide a wide variety of resources for the customer agent to learn about the company and services. Offering periodic training sessions is a great way to keep your colleagues upskilled. But also, remember that the customer is informed that resolving the issue may take a bit longer than normal, with a promise to call back within a specific timeframe, which can make the customer happier in the short-term.
In offering this, one of the big mistakes falls to the line manager. When a customer service agent is trying to solve a problem, but then they find themselves inundated with other calls, this has a knock-on effect. They are not able to get back in contact with the customer when they said, which adds more fuel to the fire, so the line manager must allow the worker to actually solve the problem, rather than picking up calls because of the queue. This is why it’s also important to have a knowledge base that every colleague has access to. This greatly reduces the chances of incorrect information being passed on to the customer.
When a Customer Does Not Follow Through With Their Promise
Sometimes, we cannot offer a solution right away. If we are unable to provide a resolution to the customer, we have to promise to deliver it within a specific time period. But when a customer service agent does not follow through with their promise, this will make the customer even more frustrated. The longer the issue remains unsolved, the angrier the customer gets. This issue may occur due to a wide variety of issues. It may be down to the individual agent not being proactive in passing on information, or they may not be bothered. In addition, the fact could be that the process is not in place. When a customer service agent needs to remind themselves to check on an issue and get back to the customer in a few days’ time, it’s important to have a system in place.
To fix this issue, you can focus on the follow-up time. If a customer service agent replies within the timescale, this will increase customer reliability. If you need to follow up on additional correspondence with a customer, the best approach is to call back within 24-hours. When speaking to a customer, you should always remember to be grateful to them. Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying “thank you.” It can also help to streamline processes with help desk software. While your finances may not allow for it when you are in the startup phase, it is an invaluable investment. Customer experience is so important, and we are only human after all. This means that we need to make the processes easier by having the right technology. This is especially true if we are dealing with a customer query over a matter of days.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of problems in the global marketplace as far as customer service is concerned. Customer service issues are par for the course. And it can be overwhelming to keep up with a customer who is trying to get their problem solved. We have to remember that it will always be the outstanding customer service that keeps them coming back. When we address their problems, we want them to feel satisfied with the outcome, but also make sure that they come back to the business.