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The Alternative Board Blog

5 Customer Service Blunders Made by Small Businesses

May. 28, 2019 | Posted by The Alternative Board
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Is “quality customer service” part of your brand promise? If so, you’ve made a commitment to deliver an outstanding buying experience each and every time a customer (or would-be customer) interacts with your business. It’s a commendable goal, but not one easily achieved—and, sadly, not always a top priority with some small businesses. 

To state the obvious, without satisfied customers no company can remain in business for very long. So, it’s essential that businesses avoid potentially costly customer service mistakes at all times. Here are five such mistakes that alienate customers and prompt them to take their business elsewhere: 

1. Not empowering front-line staff to resolve complaints

No one with a complaint about a product or service wants to jump through hoops to get the matter resolved. But companies who don’t empower front-line employees to handle these complaints are missing the boat. Instead of insisting these employees forward complaints elsewhere, “look closely at the structure of your complaint-resolution process and identify areas where empowering employees to resolve a problem on the spot might be the most efficient (and customer-pleasing) option.” 

2. Neglecting to train employees on “people skills”

In order to ensure customer satisfaction, every employee who interacts with your customers must possess a certain degree of “people skills.” Some of us come by this trait naturally, but all employees will benefit from some level of training in this area. Essential qualities to focus on include:

  •  Patience and empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to clearly communicate
  • Thorough knowledge of your product or service

It’s a good investment to “ensure your customer reps exhibit these traits in all of their customer interactions.”

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3. Not offering self-service options to customers with a problem

Inexplicably, some business websites fail to highlight their “Contact Us” page or otherwise make it difficult for a dissatisfied customer to register a complaint. A comprehensive FAQ page is a good start to rectify this problem. All you need to do is list the most commonly asked customer questions and then provide clearly written answers with links to pages that can address any issue a customer might face.

Think about offering additional resources, such as a live chat function, buyer’s guide, how-to videos, and so on. Without any self-service option, HubSpot notes, “customers might feel annoyed that they have to spend time reaching out for assistance instead of helping themselves.” Providing self-service resources also lessens the demands on your front-line staff.

4. Making promises you can’t keep

In the rush to get new customers or keep existing customers happy, businesses sometimes promise more than they can deliver. Whether it’s following through on a complaint or making promised changes in shipping policies, when you promise something to your customers, you have to follow through. Make sure you always have the resources and processes in place to produce the result you promised. It’s a great way to impress first-time customers and a sure-fire way to keep current customers loyal and satisfied.

5. Failing to offer a sincere apology

The age-old credo, “The customer is always right,” still holds true today. When a customer feels your product or service has fallen short in some way, act quickly to resolve the situation and provide a clear, heartfelt apology for the shortcoming.

Some businesses are reluctant to do so, feeling it leaves their reputation “exposed” in some way. On the contrary—aggrieved customers want to know their complaints have been respectfully heard and addressed. Often, their trust in the company is restored as a result. Don’t neglect this small, but important part of customer service.

Learn more about improving customer service with our free TAB Boss webinar, “Improve Your Phone Communications Skills for Greater Customer Service.”

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Written by The Alternative Board

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