Ask anyone who owns a business or manages a customer service department – failing at customer service is alarmingly easy to do. Even with the best intentions, offering sub-par customer service is the norm for many companies. If you’re uncertain whether or not your customer service strategy is working, it’s probably not. Great customer service elicits reactions from your customers, and they’ll let you know how much they appreciate it.
When’s the last time you received a compliment on the level of service your business provided? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear some encouraging words from customers? Check out the 4 most common ways small businesses fail at customer service to check your strategy and get back on the right track. Shep Hyken shared these tips in his recent post, Five Reasons Your Company May Fail at Customer Service.
4 Ways Your Business is Failing at Customer Service
Your small business is probably failing at customer service in these 4 ways. Which of these mistakes do you recognize – and what steps will you take to correct them?
1. Lack of clarity in your strategy
You may have a general customer service strategy in place, but having an overly-general strategy is just as problematic as having no strategy. Without clarity, go-to processes, and preferred terminology in your strategy, your employees will struggle to provide the same level of customer service to each customer.
Clarify your strategy by elaborating on what’s already there and making things clear where they seem general. If your strategy is “Treat every customer like family,” that’s a great starting point, but it won’t translate into teaching your employees how to treat customers like family.
What does it mean to treat someone like family? Offer them additional help when they need it? Act delighted to hear from them? Never put them on hold? Whatever your definition is, make sure you clarify exactly how you expect yourself and your employees to uphold that strategy.
2. Too-brief training
Training, for many small businesses, is a short-term process that happens upon hiring an employee. If you subscribe to this belief, you’re probably failing at customer service. Ongoing training is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. It’s also a must if you want your employees to stick to your strategy and keep your goals in mind.
After training, the information learned can slowly diminish to the point where employees are making their own decisions about how to act and what to do when they interact with customers. You want your strategy and goals to determine your employees’ actions, not their individual ideas and whims. Continue training throughout your employees’ time with your company.
3. Limiting customer service to a department
Customer service, in order to be effective, has to be taken on by the entire organization, not just a department. Anyone who will come into contact with a customer needs to be trained and taught the basics of customer service. No matter how brief an employee’s interaction with a customer may be, it’s an opportunity to either support or negate your customer service strategy. Don’t let it be the latter!
Teach your other departments the importance of customer service and involve them in the continual training discussed in number 2. Make great customer service a business objective, not a sole department’s responsibility.
4. The wrong employees and attitudes
Even with a great strategy in place, adequate training, and cross-departmental involvement, failing at customer service can still happen. If you’ve got the wrong people in customer-facing positions, you’re fighting a losing battle. There are many excellent employees that simply don’t belong in customer service. You need to analyze your current staff and determine who’s fit for customer service and who isn’t.
Some personality traits and mindsets make it harder for people to deliver customer service effectively. With issues like these, the only fix is moving that person out of customer service and into a different, non-customer-facing role.
Customer service isn’t a theory. It’s not something you decide or just think. It’s something you do. And not just you – everyone at your business has to be on board to offer a truly great customer service experience. Clearly define your strategy, practice continual training, involve the whole organization, and make sure your employees are a good fit to avoid failing at customer service.