5 Customer Service Mistakes and How to Fix Them

5 Fixable Customer Service Mistakes

Customer Satisfaction is All About Common Sense

I’m often asked: “What is the biggest and most costly customer service mistake in business today?” My answer? Simple, “Not being friendly enough.” 

Customers should be treated as welcome guests when they call or walk into an organization; instead, they’re often treated like an interruption or, even worse, an annoyance. More than 80 percent of all customer service includes a telephone call. That said, customer service mistakes happen anytime, in many ways, and all communication channels. So, whichever way you communicate with your customers, BEWARE.

The following common sense customer service tips will help in dealing with most customers and certainly with potential leads. SELLING IS CUSTOMER SERVICE!!

Mistake No. 1: Not Smiling 

Solution: Smile.

Show me a picture you don’t like, and I’ll show you a picture where you’re not smiling.

It sounds insanely simplistic, doesn’t it? We’re taught early that a smile can get us a lot. This is true even for adults, especially on the telephone. Since the telephone is the most used mode of communication, we need to understand why a smile works – because, YES… you can hear a smile.
OK, OK, sometimes we don’t feel like smiling. Well, you know what? Smile anyway. The caller doesn’t care if you feel like smiling or not. With customer service as our top priority, we should not tolerate not smiling before you pick up the phone. Frankly, I’d rather have the caller think your office is closed than have you answer the phone in a negative mood.

Mistake No. 2: Not Immediately Acknowledging a Caller’s Question or a Problem

Solution: Rapid responses.

Use a ‘mental stamp’ that says ‘NOW.’ Delaying a request for information or not answering an ‘issue’ can cause more problems than the original request. 
Ask when. A good habit to get into is to ask the customer: ”By the way, when would you need this information, Mr. Jones?”  Our surveys found that when a customer is asked when he or she would like to receive the needed information, 80 percent did NOT automatically respond, “I need it now,” as you might expect. Thus, no need to say: “I’ll get that to you right away.“ Often, callers won’t need something until tomorrow or next week. Asking for a timetable is an easy, good customer service tip.

And, by the way, ‘as soon as possible’ is not a time. It’s a guesstimate. Better to confirm a date or time. 

Mistake No. 3: Not Double Checking

Solution: Be a ‘double checker.’

It’s easy to tell people, ”We don’t have it.“ Or ”Sorry, it’s past the deadline.“ Or “We ran out of that.”

Instead, try a soft rejection like, “The last time I checked the offer wasn’t available; however, let me double-check on that for you.“ It’s a wonderful way to defuse any disappointment about you not having what they called for or asked for in the first place. This simple statement immediately defuses some of the tension of not being able to fulfill a request completely. And often, when we double-check, we find a way to get what the person wanted after all. 

Mistake No. 4: Not Following Up

Solution: Follow up after a negative issue.

It’s an excellent idea to follow up on the good and bad stuff, like a call to thank the client or customer for their order, help, or good conversation. Following up is always recommended. But please don’t forget to ask, “Did I catch you at a bad time? Do you have a few moments to talk?”

Bonus Mistake: Not Checking Your Own Voicemail Messages

Solution: Check how your voicemail messages sound.

How do you sound? What are you saying? When did you last check your cell phone or answering machine message? Your customers hear it — you should too. Do you know what you’re saying? Also, don’t let your voicemail fill up! If a customer can’t leave a message, what does that say about your business?

Yes, it’s all common sense, folks. Simple, common sense, but you and I know that common sense isn’t so common.

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Nancy Friedman is Founder and Chairman of the The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. A former franchisor, she is expert on customer service and is a frequent keynote speaker talking about customer services best practices. Her real-world, hands-on tips, ideas, skills, and techniques help both franchisors and franchisees take their businesses to the next level.
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