Today’s consumer is becoming more demanding and customer reviews are becoming increasingly important for organizations. Social media has made it easy for customers to quickly spread the word about any company — good or bad. A positive customer rating can:
- Increase repeat business
- Extend brand reach
- Attract new customers
- Boost the bottom line
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid all customer complaints, but there are some common issues that companies must try to mitigate against to achieve continued success.
1. Broken promises
The company made a promise it failed to deliver on. This could be a broad marketing message or offer, such as “We guarantee delivery within two working days” or it could be a promise by an individual agent, for example, assuring the customer they’ll get back to them the same day and failing to call. Both types of broken promises can seriously damage a customer’s trust in the company. On a small scale, this may mean a particular customer never returns. On a larger scale, this could result in:
- Poor reviews
- Negative word-of-mouth advertising
- Lost business
- Difficulty in attracting new customers
Broken promises sometimes occur because key personnel are unaware a promise has been made. All staff should receive onboarding that includes:
- A clear outline of the company message
- Core values
- The customer promise
Additionally, set company, department and individual level KPIs and link rewards to the achievement of these targets. These KPIs will motivate employees to deliver the highest standards of service.
2. Repeated telephone transfers
We’ve all been there. An issue arises with a service or product. You reach out to the supplier for support and your call is bounced from department to department until finally you’re put in touch with the right person. This is frustrating for the customer, who often has to repeat their issue time and again. It’s also inefficient and costly for the company, as multiple agents waste time trying to resolve an issue that could have been dealt with in one call by one member of staff.
Training staff and making better use of available technology can mitigate this problem. Providing everyone with basic training in common customer issues would reduce the need for poorly trained employees to transfer the call to a more knowledgeable advisor. Onboarding should also include training for new employees in the organization of the company, the roles of different departments and personnel and how to escalate a customer complaint.
In addition to this, a virtual phone system can help direct calls quickly to the most relevant department or individual. An auto attendant feature can help caller’s self-categorize their issue, for example, “press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer service”. Call forwarding is also helpful for routing calls to another employee if the primary contact is unavailable.
3. Hidden costs and conditions
A company makes a price or service promise upfront, then gradually reveals hidden costs or requirements as the customer progresses through the sales process. This can result in irate customers, wasted time and a lost sale.
Companies should aim to be transparent with their offer and its conditions. “Tricking” consumers into a sale by hiding key information in the first instance may achieve a few extra sales in the short-term, but it’ll only do the business damage in the long-run. Make it clear what the total cost is and if the provision of a service or product is contingent upon certain requirements, such as the age of the purchaser or their location, make this apparent early on. Equally, there’s no need to bombard the potential customer with all of the information during their first five-minute phone call. An email workflow is a good way of ensuring transparency of the offer while tailoring the information they receive to the stage of the sales process they have reached. For example, create an email template that contains the fine print relating to price and eligibility. Schedule this to be sent after the first telephone call or once a specific target action has been completed.
Customer service is an undeniably important element of any business. Consumers are surrounded by offerings from competitors — on social media, via mail, on the television and billboards — so in order to stand out make sure you deliver consistent service excellence.
You won’t eradicate all customer complaints, but by listening to what customers want (and what they don’t want) you can put measures in place to increase the number of happy customers and decrease the number of complaints. If a complaint does slip through, be sure to handle it head-on. Many consumers can be understanding about errors if they receive due recognition, apology, and recompense.