12 Most Common Customer Service Challenges…And how to solve them!

If Customer Service is handled poorly…Your Customers will turn to your competition.  That is a fact.  How customer issues are handled is crucial to your business’s success. Handle them well, customers will return again and again, boosting profits.  Handle them poorly, customers will go to a competitor which adversely effects your revenue and reputation.  The key to handling these challenges is knowing how to respond effectively and in a timely manner.  This enhances the customer experience, raises customer loyalty, and increases sales and profitability.

Here are 12 of the most common customer service challenges and tips on how to turn them into relationship-building opportunities:

  1. Not having an answer to a question

Handling this challenge is more about what you shouldn’t do than what you should do.  If you do not have the answer, acknowledge the question’s difficulty, ask them for time to find a solution, then guarantee them you’ll contact them.  The key is to avoid being unclear in your response.

  1. Transferring calls to another department

There will be times when the best way to help a customer is to transfer the customer to another person.  When that happens, you first need to let customers know you’re transferring them to someone that will help.  But avoid the mistake of doing a “blind transfer.” Meaning you transfer the customer to your teammate without verifying they are available to take their call.  If someone is expecting a live person but gets a voicemail, how do you think they will feel?

  1. Failing to understand what customers want

Customers can sometimes have a hard time explaining what they want. They may not know the technical terminology to tell you exactly what the problem is. If possible, ask the customer to take you step by step through their issue.  You might find it helpful to take notes while they explain the issue.  Consider sharing the problem with a teammate. A second opinion could help you solve the issue quickly.

  1. Dealing with angry customers

Even the best companies get calls from angry customers.  The key is to first calm them down so you can find out how you can help them. Then, do it.  One approach is to use the HEARD technique for helping customers; Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, Diagnose. This approach calms customers while providing you time to diagnose the problem and then address it.

     5. Exceeding customers’ expectations

The trick to beating this challenge is to set reasonable customer expectations, then meet and exceed them. Exceeding expectations can generate repeat customers.  The key to doing that is to first take a customer-centric approach. Then, generate data that tells you exactly what customers want. Use print, electronic, and social media to produce that kind of data.

  1. Serving multiple customers at one time

Customers are okay with being put on hold if it helps resolve their issues. But telling customers you’re going to put them on hold to solve their problems buys you time to talk with the other customer.  Above all, avoid telling the first customer you’re talking with a second customer. And do not leave the first customer on hold for a long time.  It’s a fine balancing act!

  1. An outage or other crisis occurs

Is there anything worse than having a power failure or a crisis? Severe emergencies, like security breaches, can be deadly. How do you handle them?  First, put a crisis communication plan in place. That tells employees exactly what they have to do during a crisis. Then, when customers call, you need to apologize to customers for what they are going through.

Also, provide constant updates—once every 30 minutes— to help reassure nervous customers.  When everything is over, you can then publish a debrief detailing the steps you took to help the situation and issue a sincere apology for any inconvenience customers may have experienced.  If you are Not sure what to say, check the internet for models you can download.

  1. Customers want a discount you cannot give

Discounting can get customers to buy from you. But it also devalues your brand’s perception in the customer’s eyes. So, use this strategy carefully. Plus, no customer likes to hear “no” from a customer service representative.  So, do not just turn the customer down.  Explain to them why you cannot give them the discount. Use this opportunity as a chance to reinforce the value of your product or service.

  1. Customers want a feature you will not or cannot add

It is hard to say no to good customers, as I noted above. But sometimes you must. Here’s a way to do it gracefully; Keep your tone positive.  Be personal.  Do not use formatted responses.  Offer a workaround if one exists.  Sometimes you can find a workaround that provides the functionality your customers want in your product.  In other words, do whatever you can to help the customer.

  1. Flooded with service calls/tickets

This challenge is fairly common—especially if you don’t have an employee working 24/7 or a third-party provider that can provide round the clock responses.  Many customers, though, expect an answer within a few hours. When you’re backed up like this, focus on responding instead of resolving.  But do not set up autoresponders to do it.   You can also have agents write personal emails telling customers “We’re backlogged, but we will be taking care of you soon.” Also, give customers a hard deadline by which you will help them.  Be realistic, do not over-promise!  This will give you time to resolve the issue and your customers get timely responses.

     11You need to fire a customer

Some people are better suited for your product or service than others. But letting a customer go is never easy. So, if you need to do it, do it with grace and respect. Use this four-step approach; Be positive and appreciative.  Re-frame the situation as your fault.  Make the customer whole.  Apologize and offer an alternative.  Going above and beyond may save this relationship.

  1. Reply/resolution times are slow

Customers want answers now. Or better yet, five minutes ago. To start, review the ticket handling process you have in place.  If you have tickets bouncing around from one department to another, find out why and eliminate the problem.  Also, try cross-channel support, create a service level agreement, and set up your internal structure for team success.

In Summary, Customer service challenges do not go away. But if you don’t handle them correctly, they could cost you some customers. Disappointing them costs you customers and generates negative word-of-mouth. No business can afford that.

Instead of disappointing customers, turn service challenges into relationship-building opportunities.  Prepare your team to handle these challenges in advance. That keeps customers satisfied and retains their business, boosting customer loyalty and increasing profitability.

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