10 Common Customer Service Mistakes that will cause you to lose custom

By Helen Peters,2014-06-17 22:59
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10 Common Customer Service Mistakes that will cause you to lose custom ...

    Lose Customers Here are 10 Proven Ways

    by Michael Bergdahl

    International Speaker, Author, & Wal-Mart Competition Authority

    His Books: “What I Learned From Sam Walton” & “The 10 Rules of Sam Walton”

    “To any enterprise, there are no jobs more important

    than those serving its customers.” Isn’t it ironic that it takes years to build a great customer relationship but only moments

    to tear one apart! There are so many ways to lose your existing customers, if you aren’t

    careful in your dealings every day. I came up with these ten ways to lose your customers,

    but these are by no means the exclusive list. What is interesting is that each of the ten

    service points I’ve covered below can be turned around into a great way to actually

    reinforce, and retain your customer relationships to make them even stronger. The

    common thread I found to achieve great customer service requires staffing great people,

    training them, and retraining them. It also helps to have a company culture that values

    service over everything else. I suggest you review these examples with your entire

    customer service team!

    1. BROKEN PROMISES - Customers get upset when a company makes promises

    that aren’t fulfilled. This has been referred to as “over-promising and under-delivering.”

    Adopt the philosophy that you will always live up to the commitments you make to your

    customers. Teach your customer service team, “A promise we make is a promise we

    intend to keep . . . each and every time.” When someone on your customer service team

    makes a commitment to one of your customers, your company must stand behind that

    commitment, even when it costs you money. Admit your mistake, apologize to the

    customer, and do what ever you can to make them happy. Remember this: a customer

    who is unhappy with your service will tell everyone they know exactly how poorly you

    treated them. Failing to live up to your commitments to one customer may end up

    costing you business from several of your other existing customers! When you treat your

    customers poorly you need to realize that you are driving business to your competitors!

    Teach your customer service team to “under-promise and over-deliver!” 2. “SHUFFLING THE PROBLEM We have all experienced the frustration of

    contacting a company by phone, regarding a complaint, and then being transferred from

    one unhelpful person to another. “Customer shuffling” is a nasty customer service practice the employees in some companies use to avoid taking responsibility for dealing

    with a customer’s problem. When this has happened to you, do you get the same feeling

    that I do, that this company doesn’t really care about me, my problem, or my future

    business? To solve the “customer service shuffle” your company has to create clearly

    written procedures that each customer service representative must follow in order to

    address common complaints. When you train your people, and empower them by giving

    them the decision making authority they need to solve customer related problems, you

    avoid their need to shuffle dissatisfied customers around. Empower the employee who

    receives a customer complaint to follow up on it, from beginning to end. Customers are

    happiest when the customer service representative (CSR) who makes the initial contact

    also has the decision making authority to resolve the complaint quickly and easily. Ask

    yourself this question: How important are satisfied customers to my business? The

correct answer is not only yes they are very important”, but you should realize that

    satisfied customers are the key to your past, present and future success! Don’t ever forget

    that a satisfied customer is likely to return to do business with you again and again while,

    unfortunately, your customers who leave dissatisfied are likely to be gone forever!

    3. “POOR SERVICE ATTITUDE” – We have all dealt with customer service people who project the attitude that, “it’s not my problem.” This really makes customers angry!

    When I sense this is happening to me I take action. I quickly assume the customer

    service representative lacks empathy for my problem, so I immediately ask to speak to a

    customer service supervisor (CSS)! I think that’s what most of do when this happens. For this reason, I believe you should have a written procedure in place describing what

    your customer service team should do when a customer is extremely unhappy or irate,

    and to have a procedure in place. Establish a practice of monitoring interactions between

    your CSR’s and your customers. Have your customer service supervisors monitor

    actually customer phone calls and do it often. Finally establish standards for customer

    service and deal with employees who are rude or project an uncaring attitude to

    customers. Remember: your company only gets one chance to make a first impression

    on your customers so make sure that first impression is a good one!

    4. MAKING CUSTOMERS ANGRY - I’ve gotten mad plenty of times when I have had to deal with customer service people concerning product or service related problems.

    Sometimes my problem is solved to my satisfaction and sometimes it isn’t. When I am

    still unhappy or angry with quality of service I received you can bet I won’t do business

    with that company again, and I suspect you wouldn’t either! But some companies have a

    way of calming down and satisfying even their most unhappy customers. Do your

    service employees know how to do this? What do your employees do with irate

    customers? Do you have a procedure in place? Show me a company where the customer

    service people know how to satisfy those unhappy customers and I’ll guarantee you that

    company trains its people well. Here is an idea I would recommend to you to turn

    dissatisfied customers into satisfied customers. It’s called TRAINING! During the

    initial orientation of newly hired customer service employees you should make sure each

    member of your team is thoroughly trained on when to refer customers to a supervisor.

    During the orientation, using role playing, each of the members of your team should gain

    hands on experience dealing with a variety of actual service related problems that have

    caused your customers to become irate in the past. With a written customer service

    procedure in place, a strong orientation of new employees, and ongoing staff training

    using role playing, your team will be ready to address any customer related concern.

    5. “LACK OF FOLLOW-UP” You can’t always solve every customer related problem in a matter of moments. Let’s face it, there are times when you do need to research the problem and get back to the customer at a later time. There is nothing wrong

    with explaining to the customer that you need time to investigate their problem. But

    when this happens be sure to make a commitment to the customer of a specific timeframe

    within which you will get back to them with a response. Failure to get back to a

    customer, once a commitment is made, is like telling them that their business is not very

    important to you. It also sends the message that the people in your company lack

    integrity. If you are going to be delayed in responding make a point of letting the

    customer know. Provide updates as soon as you have them. Teach your team how

    important it is to live up to their commitments to your customers and to one another.

    Remember: Customers don’t want to hear excuses from a company they are trying to do

business with! Treat your customers the way that you would want to be treated! Teach

    your team to follow this simple standard, Make commitments, and then follow through

    on them every time!”

    6. ALIENATING CUSTOMERS- There is an old adage in customer service circles,

    “the customer is always right!” Those of us who work in customer related jobs know this

    isn’t literally true, but when it comes to our customers we act as if it were! One hundred

    percent of the time, in our dealings with customers, we need to project a positive attitude,

    along with respect for our customer’s point of view. It serves no purpose to argue with

    our customers, and those who do come to find out the outcome is never really positive for

    their business. You may win the argument now and then but you will more often than not

    lose a customer. What is one customer worth? If you treat them right you may be able to

    count on future business, and good word-of-mouth advertising. Argue with, and debate

    with your customers, and ultimately prove your customers weren’t right, and you are likely to lose that customer for life. That’s the customer service version of “winning a

    battle but losing the war!” When you work in a job where you are in contact with

    customers, you can’t afford to have a “bad” day. Don’t ever forget, if it weren’t for your customers you’d be out of business. If you treat your customers poorly they’ll vote with

    their feet by doing business with your competitors. Adopt the attitude that your

    customers are always right, and you’re on your way to establishing customer relationships that may last a lifetime!

     7. “REACHING AN IMPASSE” – From time to time, no matter how hard we try we

    aren’t going to be able to satisfy every customer. Even the most experienced customer service representatives (CSR’s) run into customer related problems over which they just

    have no authority. There is a way to avoid leaving the customer with a bad feeling about

    your company and it involves having a simple procedure in place. The answer when this

    happens is for the customer service team to get a supervisor involved in a discussion with

    the customer immediately. Time is of the essence, and it is critical for your service team

    to know exactly what to do. I recommend that you train your CSR’s to take the following steps:

    I. Initially, your CSR should work directly with the customer to resolve the problem.

    II. If an impasse is reached, ask the customer to speak with a supervisor.

    III. The CSR Supervisor listens to the customer’s concern. Sometimes the process of

    simply listening to the customer, and letting them vent their concerns, seems to

    extinguish the size of the original problem.

    IV. The CSR Supervisor attempts to resolve the problem and satisfy the customer.

    V. At this point, if an impasse still exists explain as clearly as you can your

    company’s policy and why an exception cannot be made. The key is to “seek

    understanding from the customer, not agreement!” Often, once the customer

    understands your explanation of “why”, they are more likely to accept the

    decision, though they may still disagree with you.

    VI. Apologize for any inconvenience the customer has experienced and thank the

    customer for their business. Unfortunately, in some cases, the CSR Supervisor

    and the customer will end their conversation at an impasse simply “agreeing to


    Teach this procedure to everyone and post a copy of it on every bulletin board. Review it

    with new employees and periodically discuss it at team meetings with your entire staff. If

your company wants to be known for having great service the key is to provide ongoing

    customer service training to everyone who is contact with your customers.

    8. “APATHY TOWARD CUSTOMERS” - Do you know who pays the bills at your

    business? I am talking about the rent, lights, gas, electric and even your pay and benefits.

    The answer is of course your customers pay all of your bills by choosing to spend their

    hard earned money on your products and services. But customers can change their

    buying habits, and they do it all the time. Don’t ever forget they can choose to walk

    away from your business in favor of spending their money on your competitor’s products

    and services. Think about that for just a moment. In fact you should think about that

    every day! What are you doing to make your customers want to continue doing business

    with you? Are any of the people servicing your customers taking your customers for

    granted? There are plenty of alternative sources for almost every product imaginable. Is

    there a compelling reason why your customers should continue doing business with you?

    Think about it, talk with your service team about it, and do something about it, NOW!

    9. “NON-COMPETITIVE PRACTICES” - Customers have more options for

    purchasing products and services than they have ever had before. Everyone has internet

    access, and they use it to compare products and services. You should make it a practice

    to study the competition. Study their pricing structure for products and services against

    your own. Customers don’t mind purchasing from a business for a fair price. Study

    your competitor’s pricing structure and make adjustments accordingly. Don’t

    underestimate the intelligence of the shoppers for products like yours in the marketplace.

    People are smart and the market will dictate what you can expect to charge for your

    products and services. It is important to remember that the customer expects you to make

    a fair profit, but no more!

    10. “MISHANDLED PRODUCT ISSUES” - When a customer makes a purchase it is

    quite easy to smile and thank them for their purchase. How does your service team react

    when that same customer tries to return that purchase for a refund or a replacement?

    Often customer service people are well trained to sell products and collect money. Less

    time is typically spent on teaching the importance of service after the sale. Your

    customers will learn more about your company from the way you deal with a product the

    customer wants to return to you, than they will from the way you handled their original

    purchase. Do you provide service with a smile? Are you just as glad to see the customer

    making a return as someone who is making a purchase? The reality is that you should

    handle both transactions in the same positive manner. Some companies have restrictive

    return/service policies which create bad feelings for their customers. If you treat your

    customers well when they have a problem they will reward you by returning again and

    again to make future purchases. If you mistrust your customers, and make them feel like

    naughty children when they try to return a product, they’ll leave you, and spend their

    money elsewhere! Show your loyalty to your customers by taking care of them when

    they have a problem, and they will reciprocate by being loyal to your business. A good

    rule to follow is this: take care of your customers, the same way you would want to be

    treated under similar circumstances if the same thing happened to you!

    “When you stop worrying about making money, and concern yourself with taking care of the needs of your customers, success will follow.” Michael Bergdahl

Michael Bergdahl, International Speaker, Author & Wal-Mart Competition Authority

     Michael Bergdahl is a professional international business speaker, author and turnaround

    specialist. Bergdahl worked in Bentonville, Arkansas for Wal-Mart, as the Director of “People” for the headquarters office.

     He is considered an authority on Wal-Mart Competition, and he has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CNN FN, MSNBC, CNN International, CBS National Radio and Bloomberg TV. He has

    participated in internationally televised news debates on “Power Lunch”, “On the Money”,

    “Morning Call”, and “Closing Bell.” He maintains a Wal-Mart Competition Blog on his web site at:

     He is also the author of What I Learned from Sam Walton: How to Compete and

    Thrive in a Wal-Mart World,” and The 10 Rules of Sam Walton: Success Secrets for

    Remarkable Results.”

     His international keynote speaking experience includes: * Brisbane, Australia * Beijing,

    China * Melbourne, Australia * Vancouver, British Columbia * Toronto, Ontario * Mont

    Tremblant, Quebec * Caracas, Venezuela * Bogota, Colombia * Panama City, Panama * Cologne,

    Germany * Istanbul, Turkey * Malaga, Spain * Moscow, Russia * Port Douglas, Australia *

    Santiago, Chile * and across the USA.

     To contact Mr. Bergdahl, call 412-635-2638 , or visit his website

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