When it comes to providing customer service, your business often only has one chance to get it right. With all the options available to your customer, one negative experience is often enough for them to take their business elsewhere. In my business and executive coaching programmes, I often help my clients identify ways to retain customers. These are five of the most common customer service flaws.
We all know that upselling to an existing customer is much easier and more cost effective than landing a new customer… especially when money is tight. The worst thing you can do is treat an existing loyal customer with indifference and a complacent attitude. Never assume that they are loyal and that they will give you repeat business. Apathy is the number one cardinal sin in customer service.
When there is too much red tape and admin involved in closing a deal, you run the risk of losing it. Yes, you need to be compliant with the various regulatory policies, but when a customer indicates that they are ready to sign on the dotted line, you need to have the pen ready and make the process as easy and painless as possible.
Hiding Head Honchos
When a customer asks to speak to the supervisor, the boss or the CEO, it means he no longer has faith and confidence in the people he has been dealing with. It’s pretty important for the leaders of the business to know this so they can fix it. When a customer is disgruntled, the last thing he wants to hear is that the head honcho has instructed the receptionist not to put calls through to him. Now I understand that he has a company to run but you can put processes in place in such a way that the customer feels that he is being heard by someone close to the CEO. If the leader of the business doesn’t care about customer service, you can’t expect the team to place value on it.
Yes, you are the expert in your field. But nothing chases customers away faster than a conversation that makes them feel inferior or stupid. When employees use jargon, acronyms or language that customers don’t understand, they’re condescending. “Bullshit baffles brains” is the most unsustainable sales tactic that may have worked in the past, but today’s customers are enquiring, curious and actually want to understand what they are purchasing and what their options are.
If you give an undertaking to a customer, stick to it. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t create expectations you can’t meet. It’s a dangerous and short-sighted strategy to keep your client happy and quiet by committing to something that you know you can’t deliver. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
To quote Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” And the problem is that many businesses don’t think this way. Perhaps it is time to consider if you or your employees are guilty of committing any of these customer service flaws and if so, how can you change and improve your customer service systems and processes.
If you are serious about your business you have to focus on what fuels it – your customers – because without them you have no business at all.