No matter how great your online marketing efforts, local customers are going to do business with you in person. So, the customer service you deliver can be your best friend – or your worst enemy. At the end of the day, how you treat your customers will impact not only your current customer satisfaction levels, but it will have a powerful impact on your company reputation – both online and off. Many business owners are quick to take a defensive stance when they get a negative review online instead of first looking to their operations to see if there is a systematic issue that could have caused a legitimate customer concern.
Regardless of what you do to boost or fix your online reputation, if your service is bad, you’ll get negative reviews online. In an age where any consumer can post a review of your business online, it’s critical to make sure you don’t have a missing link in your business reputation – incredible customer service.
So, make sure your business isn’t guilty of any of these seven deadly customer services sins:
1. Untrained Employees. Customer service is the front lines of your business. That’s why it’s critical to make sure your employees are trained and capable when they begin interacting with customers. Unknowledgeable employees can slow down service rates, cast doubt in the mind of customers, and create other customer service issues. So, make sure your employees are properly trained before putting them to work.
2. Endless Waits. Long lines or seemingly endless waits due to issues like understaffing, untrained employees, or even uncontrollable issues such as backorders or technical delays are one customer service issue that the modern consumer has little patience for. In the age of instant gratification, customers expect fast, reliable service. If long wait times or lines are an issue, make sure you are actively managing issues you can control, like staffing levels. Communicate honestly with customers about issues you can’t directly control so they’re not left wondering what is taking so long.
3. Phone Faux Pas. Unanswered phones, unanswered messages, and complicated automated phone systems are at the top of many consumers’ lists of customer service sins that are simply unforgivable. The quick, friendly answer to a phone call these days is a powerful, refreshing way to differentiate you from the large competitors who are vying for your customers. So, make sure everyone in your business knows the proper friendly greeting to a phone call and that you have a process in place to help you follow up with customer inquiries, too.
4. Inaccurate or Unfair Pricing. Not much is more upsetting to a customer than being misled or gouged on price. And you better believe that when it comes to unfair pricing, people will not hesitate to complain online. So, make sure your prices and promotions are clear and straightforward, and focus on providing quality service that demonstrates why working with a small business is worth every cent.
5. Rude Encounters. Dealing with a rude employee can be an incredibly frustrating experience for a customer. An employee with an apathetic, nonchalant, or rude demeanor can do more than just make the customer experience awful – it can result in lost sales, negative reviews, and more lost sales, ultimately having a huge impact on the bottom line.
6. Provoking Difficult Customers. Every small business will deal with difficult customers at some point in time. When dealing with a difficult customer, the right response is never to provoke more anger with taunts, negative remarks, or reprimands. Instead, when you encounter difficult or negative customers, focus on remaining calm. When a customer service issue arises, common courtesies go a long way to help ease cus
tomer tensions. Simple things like saying “please” and “thank you,” and keeping a professional, respectful tone will set your business apart, even when customers are the ones demonstrating a short fuse.
7. Failure to Address Complaints.
When it comes to your company reputation – both online and offline – one of the worst things you can do is not listen to feedback or address customer complaints. Each time a customer complains about your service or product, you have an opportunity to improve your business and win back customers. Plus, handling a customer complaint well can also give you the opportunity to win over new customers.
Do you have other issues you’d add to the list of customer service sins that can crucify a small business online? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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About the Author: Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and SMB success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.