If your business has direct customer dealing, the customer service is easily one of the most important aspects of your operations, right? It is a foregone conclusion in theory but in practice, it is dramatically absent in the case of most small to medium scale businesses. We don’t mean customer service per se. We, obviously, mean good service without any or minimal customer care mistakes.
Imagine this. You have a well-funded business that has a gorgeous and highly effective product aimed at a completely fresh market with very few competitors. You have all the ingredients for grand success but you won’t. Why? You won’t taste success or sip from the glass of champagne because you didn’t fix one aspect of your business – customer service. If your business is making the following customer care mistakes, then it doesn’t matter how much money, creativity, hard work, or innovation you throw at it. The business will die one way or another.
Customer Care Mistakes #1: Not Creating a System Based On Training
Customer care is simple. All it takes is a few entry level executives to answer whatever question the customers have and either solve their problems or tell them “no”. Not! Customer service may not be a specialised field but it isn’t as simple as you’re assuming either. Customer service for your business needs as much attention from you as other process flows such as manufacturing, accounts, human resources, and even administration.
In simpler words, you need to create a system for customer service or you will see multiple customer care mistakes followed by customer abandonment. The word “system” here is critical because it implies standardisation and tangible rules. However, that standardisation and those rules will be a result of your focus on training. Customer service teams need solid training to be able to not only retain existing customers but also get on their good side.
Customer Care Mistakes #2: Creating Systemic Dissonance
If the biggest of the various customer care mistakes is not creating a system, the second biggest is creating systemic dissonance. This mistake is essentially strategising something but doing something else entirely. Systemic dissonance can take any form. In different terms, anything that goes against the established system, especially coming from senior management, can be seen as systemic dissonance.
For example, if the system is designed to be a blend of automation and personalisation and the senior management teaches its personnel evasion from the customer, then that would be called systemic dissonance. The reason for this is that this kind of dissonance can end up ruining the entire system, regardless of how effective it was in the beginning.
Customer Care Mistakes #3: Treating Customer Service as Dispensable
Convenience is the biggest enemy of any entrepreneur. It is always convenience that forces business owners to take the shortcut as opposed to the right path. For example, if some method requires great investment of resources or time while another is quicker and cheaper albeit less effective, the majority of small business owners will choose the latter. While there is nothing wrong with this, if resources are particularly limited, the lack of knowledge becomes a problem.
Poor understanding of business dynamics and marketing nuances mean that business owners often sacrifice customer service outlays for boosting other divisions of their operations. They do this because they think that customer service is the most dispensable aspect of their business. What they don’t realise is that when they cut funding for customer service technology or make their customer service staff thinner, they’re compromising on their sales as well in the long term. In fact, customer service for any business is far more important than all other divisions with the exception of production and delivery.
Customer Care Mistakes #4: Giving Preference to Retention over Acquisition
This attitude gives rise to a number of customer care mistakes. The cause for this is primarily misunderstanding of certain business facts. The foremost of these facts is that it is far easier to retain existing customers than acquiring new customers. This is a very true fact of business. However, its relevance doesn’t mean that a business should stop worrying about customer acquisition.
When a business categorically starts trying to focus on customer retention because Returns on Investment (ROIs) are better there, it starts ignoring customer acquisition simultaneously. For example, consider a restaurant that delays new customers’ orders in favour of a returning customer, irrespective of the fact that the latter came later. If this delay is severe or it keeps happening, then some new customers may choose to never come back to the same restaurant which means that the chance to get another returning customer has been lost.
Customer retention should be more important than customer acquisition in policy but that doesn’t mean that a returning customer should be given preference over a new customer. Instead, the focus should equally be on continuing the retention of the returning customer and turning the new customer into returning customer.
Customer Care Mistakes #5: Not Personalising the Experience
This is the age of individualism. Most people in the world like to be seen as individuals and be treated as unique. This is not only a social trend but also a psychological need for a lot of people. Enough researches and studies have shown that if a business can cater to this psychological need i.e. make the customer feel special then the customer will not only keep coming back but also become a proponent for the brand.
In order to make a customer feel special, the business needs to personalise the experience to the individual. This means not only calling the customer by his name but also remembering all the little details about him such as what he purchased, how he purchased it, what was his feedback, how his previous concerns were dealt with, and anything else that may be relevant.
Customer Care Mistakes #6: Treating Absence as Equivalent to Absolution
Evasion is another one of those customer care mistakes that can really damage a business’s brand as well as its bottom line. How does evasion become a mistake for customer care departments? The obvious way is for the business to not be very accessible to the customer i.e. not having a contact form, not providing emails and phone numbers, and even not providing escalation options.
The other way is more nuanced wherein the business tells the customer that his request, complaint or query is being processed only to temporary stave off his attentions. The hope here is that the customer will gradually back off due to lack of enough response. However, these long delays also create a bad experience for the customer and should, as such, be taken as mistakes because they have the potential to push the customer to the brink of never returning and even leaving scathing reviews in the public domain.
Customer Care Mistakes #7: Looking To Win Rather Than Appease
This is possibly the simplest of all the customer care mistakes listed till now. Herein, the business drinks of its own hype and hyperbole so much that it starts believing it is invincible. When this happens, the business stops valuing the customer because it thinks that it won’t have problems getting new ones if the current one stops returning. With this belief in play, when a customer complains or has a request, businesses often end up pushing back and not catering to the customer.
In practice, this often results in the business trying to win the discussion or argument as opposed to pleasing the customer. This creates friction and, thus, pushes the customer away. For these businesses, this is just one customer being lost in the interest of winning the battle. However, these businesses neglect the fact that a spurned customer isn’t just a spurned customer.
He is also a bad reviewer and an eternal bad reputation waiting to happen. This customer will come into contact with other people and will spread bad rep for the business which will mean that many other potential customers will never come into the fold. Needless to say, appeasement is far more important than the need to win or stroke one’s ego.