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Customer Service 101 – A Word on ‘Worst Practice’

Being on the receiving end of poor customer service is an experience very few of us forget, but implementing a streamlined customer service policy is not as straight forward as we may think. Below, we list the key contributing factors towards ‘worst practice’ customer relations and how to avoid them.

Treating customer service training as a one-time investment

Without a serious commitment to progressive, periodic customer service training for your staff, your company will unfortunately find itself walking the well-trodden path to complaints and complacency. Through a successful reviewing of your customer service programme you will be able to reinforce standard practice and ensure your company ethos is in the forefront of the minds of your employees.

Think of it this way – after purchasing a car, you don’t get it serviced once and expect it to look after itself for the rest of its lifetime. Attention and regulation are integral aspects to any top-level customer service programme.

Distancing yourself from your customer’s experiences

The failure to invest time and effort into relating with your customers with empathy can be a real Achilles heel for businesses of any size. Your whole team should be aware of what challenges customers are faced with, allowing you to work out the best practice to overcome them. Simple changes, such as using the same car parks, entrances and login portals as your clients will make the world of difference when faced with their issues.

Avoiding doing so means your company’s problems won’t be easy to spot. Once the poor reviews are online, it becomes very difficult to turn public perception around.

Poor time management

This is the case in almost any walk of life – manage your time poorly, and your reputation will suffer. In terms of customer services, the repercussions are multiplied significantly meaning it is absolutely crucial no policies of target inflation are adopted by your team. Through misleading timetables, or lacking the sensitivity needed when it comes to timing issues, you will ultimately fail to pace the preferences and expectations of your clientele.

Your product or service can tick all the boxes but if it is delivered late, there is a failure on your company’s behalf that is difficult to rectify. The modern era has seen many different and innovative ways used to manage this, helping companies to adjust their customer’s perception of time to suit their overall service. For example, up-to-date progress reports of your product or service will allow the customers to see in real-time how their order or dispute is developing.

Advocating awkward policies

The hyper-immediacy of the modern world leaves little time for long-winded customer service policies and ill-thought out protocol. Providing your client base with a suitable platform to air their grievances (or their plaudits) is only achievable if accessibility is treated as a priority. Using the retail sector as an example, there are plenty of awkward policies we have undoubtedly come across – especially since the internet shopping boom.

Purchasing a gift card for a present and finding out it is mutually exclusive to either online shopping or in store transactions is a prime instance of such an occurrence. Returns only being able to be made in-store or charging customers to return an item do not make sense in today’s society, and these are lessons that can be applied to customer service policies across numerous instances.

Ignoring the importance of language and tone of voice

We’ve all seen the ‘Computer Says No’ sketch on Little Britain and, while that is an exaggerated example of the importance of interaction, it nevertheless demonstrates the end of the spectrum that is most damaging for any company. Apparent disinterest from a member of your customer service team will unquestionably lead to disdain, disappointment and ultimately disillusionment with your service as a whole.

The way language and tone are used can affect the customer’s overall experience arguably more than any other variable on this list. If the language used is not kind, empathetic or appropriate then the way your brand is perceived is unlikely to be favourable.

These five tips offer an insight into what the companies with the most acclaimed customer service systems in the world will undoubtedly advocate. Treating your customer service policy like any other of your company’s projects by applying the methodologies that shape your business structure, such as PRINCE2®, is an imperative aspect of success but one that can often be neglected in favour of more obvious profit-driven initiatives. Keep these principles in mind and you will be quick to see the benefits of a fully-functioning, well-structured approach to business-client relationships.