As the old adage says, to err is human.
However, customer service mistakes can cost you time, money, and, ultimately, valuable customers that could jump ship to your competitors.
According to a Zendesk report, 80% of consumers say they would leave a business for a competitor after more than one bad experience.
For this reason, high-quality, timely, consistently great customer service is absolutely fundamental in order for your company to reach new heights. No matter what business you’re in, you must ensure you treat your customers like kings.
So let’s be frank here; without happy customers that stick around, chances are you will lose your competitive edge and fall behind.
That’s why customer service should be your entire business, not just a department. It’s a bold statement, but there are lots of reasons why it is true.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the most common customer service mistakes and best practices for steering clear of the worst customer care traps.
Table of contents:
- Answering your own phones
- Relying heavily on scripts
- Inability to identify customer needs
- Not being aware of common customer pain points
- Not getting a real human on the phone
- Upselling and cross-selling the wrong way
1. Answering Your Own Phones
There are many reasons why you should never answer your own phone.
I don’t love absolute language, such as “must” or “never”. But in some cases, such as this one, it’s appropriate to use it.
If you’re a business owner, you should never answer your own phone calls.
- Answering your own business phone makes you look unprofessional and customers may even begin to wonder why the owner of a successful business is available to pick up the phone.
- You risk missing calls and business opportunities (which can take a heavy toll on your revenue).
- You risk putting off customers as they may feel startled if the owner of the business picks up the phone.
- Answering your own phone eats up precious time you would otherwise spend on more meaningful activities.
How to avoid: If you’re running a small business on a shoestring budget, hiring an in-house receptionist can be expensive in terms of time and money.
In that case, the easiest way to deliver fast, accurate, outstanding customer service without spending a fortune is by getting a professional virtual receptionist.
Virtual receptionists are real agents trained to deliver personalised customer service.
With a virtual receptionist, you get 24/7 coverage, meaning that your business will appear larger and more credible. At the same time, you will be able to avoid disruptions and focus on growing your business.
2. Relying Heavily on Scripts
Scripts are good for training customer service agents and teaching them how to answer customer FAQs the right way.
However, customers today don’t want standardised, canned responses to their questions.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that all customer service scripts are bad.
However, this can create a wooden customer experience and seriously affect your business if an agent does not have the ability to deliver context-based answers to customers.
How to avoid: Whether you’re a small business using a virtual receptionist or a larger business that can afford an in-house receptionist, be sure your agent is able to personalise the interaction and deliver an outstanding customer service experience.
Make sure they master the skills of active listening and have the ability to overcome common objections.
I guarantee you that most customers want to talk with an agent who listens to them and provides context-based answers, not delivers robotic answers.
For example, we at B2B HQ train our agents to really speak to your customers and help them by providing the answers they need. This, in turn, enables you to create a personalised customer experience, build loyalty and, ultimately, boost sales.
3. Inability to Identify Customer Needs
Customer needs are the motivating factors that trigger someone to purchase a product or service. Plain and simple.
Understanding your customers’ needs is key to providing them with high-quality service which in turn results in good customer relationships and increased sales through positive word-of-mouth marketing.
For example, according to a HubSpot research, 76% of customers expect businesses to understand their individual needs.
Remember, most people are looking for empathy, transparency, fairness, accessibility, and comprehensive information on how to successfully use a product or service.
Despite knowing that, some businesses fail to align their brand experience with customer needs and adopt a random approach to interacting with customers.
But when you’re not sure of what customers expect, how can you enhance their experiences with your business and convince them to stick around?
How to avoid: Identifying customer needs requires deep research across your industry. You need to collect meaningful information from your customers through regular communication so that you can ensure you meet each of their individual needs.
Here are three ways to gain a good understanding of your customers’ needs:
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Seeing the situation through their eyes is not rocket science, but it’s easier said than done. Start by mapping out your customer journey stages and optimising each step for a satisfying experience. Ask yourself, “What would motivate me to make the purchase?” and “What do I want and expect from customer service for a meaningful brand experience?”.
- Take time to observe your customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey, from the awareness stage to the final purchasing decision. Look out for factors such as how frequently customers make a purchase, how they perceive your product and brand, and which products they prefer.
- Interview prospects and current customers to get meaningful insights into the buyer’s decision-making process and explore the customer’s motivations.
4. Not Being Aware of Common Customer Pain Points
Like any issue, customer pain points are as varied as your prospects and customers themselves.
So, unless you are fully aware of your customers’ pain points, how can you fix them and ensure great customer service?
As a general rule, there are four types of customer pain points depending on your product:
- Financial pain points: Customers are spending too much money on your product or service.
- Process pain points: Customers have purchased a product or service that is too difficult to use.
- Support pain points: Customers don’t feel valued and aren’t receiving proper guidance during the customer journey or sales process.
- Productivity pain points: Customers are spending too much time using a product or service or want a more streamlined experience when interacting with your business.
Each of these pain points refers to a specific problem your customers are facing. Once you are aware of what makes your customers feel disappointed or unhappy, you will be able to offer quality support and build customer trust.
How to avoid: Identifying your customers’ pain points may take time and research. Here are a few tips to recognise those pain points to improve your customer service standards and create a sticky brand experience:
- Conduct online surveys and ask your audience targeted questions about the challenges they are currently facing when using your product or interacting with your business.
- Use social media listening to track what customers are saying about you and collect comprehensive consumer complaint data.
- Add live chat to your website to learn about the problems your prospects and customers are facing.
- Use negative customer reviews to fish for pain points.
5. Not Getting a Real Human on the Phone
While many businesses are using chatbots, robocalls, Interactive Voice Response systems (IVRs) and more to deliver support, customers still want human interactions – whether digital or in-person.
According to an Usabilla survey, more than half of customers want to speak with a human over the phone when contacting a business.
They want to talk to a well-trained, friendly, intelligent agent every time they have an issue.
So it’s safe to say that opening up a direct line of communication with your customers is one of the pillars of successful customer service.
How to avoid: Don’t be fooled into thinking that anything other than real humans can truly listen to your customers and provide them with the support they need.
Even if you’re running an early-stage startup, you need to ensure your customers get real help from real people – not an automated phone service, not an automated calling system, not an auto-reply.
As I have shared in the first section of this post (see Mistake no. 1: Answering your own phones), you can either hire an in-house employee to handle phone calls or outsource customer support to a virtual receptionist.
Both options work, but they mainly depend on your time and budget.
If you cannot afford to recruit, train, and hire an in-house team member, a well-trained virtual receptionist is what your business needs to enhance customer service.
6. Upselling and Cross-Selling the Wrong Way
While upselling is a technique used to nudge customers to upgrade their original purchase, cross-selling is recommending the purchase of related or complementary products.
For every business, the temptation to offer customers more expensive products and add-ons is rather high.
After all, sales are the ultimate source of revenue.
However, there are a few common problems that may arise when inviting your existing customers to spend more money:
- Recommending customers to purchase products or services they are not interested in
- Taking a pushy approach to upselling and cross-selling
- Not using personalised recommendations
- Not showing the actual value of the add-ons or additional products
- Upselling or cross-selling to the wrong audience
- Setting prices too high – e.g., recommending products costing 5x more is likely to turn customers off
How to avoid: Upselling and cross-selling shouldn’t be perceived as simple marketing strategies to boost sales but as opportunities to build stronger relationships with customers.
Here are a few upselling a cross-selling tips that work like a charm:
- Recommend customers to purchase relevant products or product add-ons – For instance, if a customer is looking to buy oranges, try selling them sweeter oranges or an orange peeler instead of convincing them to buy strawberries.
- Identify your customer needs (for more details, see Mistake no. 3 – Inability to identify customer needs).
- Add value to the customers by clearly explaining to them how the add-ons or additional products can help them.
- Do not upsell or cross-sell too fast – Otherwise, your offerings may seem annoying and pushy.
- Upsell and cross-sell with personalised product recommendations.
- Your offer shouldn’t be much higher than the price of the item customers are looking at or have already purchased – For example, Bitcatcha suggests that the upsell should be no more than an additional 40%.
Conclusion: With good customer service, your revenue increases.
Provide outstanding customer service and your business will reap great benefits, but stumble and you risk losing customers to your competition.
If you avoid these six customer service mistakes, you’ll significantly increase your chances to grow revenue quickly and sustainably.
We deeply hope you find this post helpful. Remember, your customers deserve the very best care and need to be treated like your best friends. So, if you’re looking for fast, simple, and affordable ways to enhance your customer service, we would be happy to help you out.
B2B HQ’s virtual receptionists provide a friendly and timely answering service that ensures all of your phone calls are captured in time and managed professionally. Warm, real customer care will help you create personal connections with your audience and get more customers you can serve for years to come.
Oh, and we provide a FREE 7-day trial too – Take the week to get to know B2B HQ while we dedicate ourselves to your business!