The key to growing any business is new customers. But for many businesses, especially services oriented businesses, maximizing repeat business is the holy grail to success. Often acquisition costs for new customers is extremely high so it is the entire firm's job to make sure their new customers stay as long as possible. The customer services department is often critical in managing customer relations and ensuring that new customers are happy and repeat customers keep coming back.
Below are a few customer service pitfalls to watch out for regardless of the customer service channel used:
1. Knowledge Incompetence
Some customers rely on sales and service staff to understand how the product works and other relevant information about specifications and product performance. With the breadth of products that some firms carry, it is understandable that sales and service staff aren't sometimes well equipped with enough training or expertise to answer all product related questions. In addition, within a rapidly changing industry some information may become quickly outdated causing the support staff to misguide customers. It is critical to have a technology infrastructure or the proper training and reference materials in place for support staff to have adequate knowledge when dealing with customers.
Disorganization is in indicator of sloppiness, lack of product knowledge and lack of concern for the customer. When sales and service providers are unable to locate something, do not know an answer quickly or appear as if things are not certain, it reflects poorly on the business. On the contrary, customers often feel thrilled and delighted when they perceive that the sales and service staff are in charge of the situation. A seemingly organized business shows customers that the business is ready to serve them and can provide the services and products necessary to fulfill the consumer's needs. So customer service staff that can portray a sense of organization and structure are sure to better please the consumer and have a higher percentage of repeat business. Here again taking advantage of the internet and technology to organize your business can pay dividends.
3. Lack of Standard Policy
Business policies towards customers should be well documented, articulated and adhered to consistently. Nothing irritates and pushes away customers like two sales or support staff speaking inconsistently about the same product or internal process (i.e. returns, exchanges, etc.). All discounts, return policies, and guarantees should be clearly stated in writing for every customer to see and also reinforced by the business’ sales and services staff members. The policies used to run the business and interface with customers should be taught to all services staff and should be posted where all customers have access. In today's blogging world, inconsistent policies can quickly become negative chatter for even the biggest brands.
4. Unreliability and Delays
When appointments, deliveries and repairs don't adhere to schedules, your customers’ satisfaction and confidence is eroded. You become unreliable to your customers which negatively effects your brand's image and their decision to choose you the next time they have a purchase need. Of course sometime delays do happen and become unavoidable. In such instances businesses can arrange for concessions to their customers and acknowledgements to assure them that it won’t happen again. Try your best to make sure that the customer knows that you are truly sorry.
Keeping an eye out for the previous four pitfalls can help your customer services group better please customers and ensure more repeat business.
Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/georgeparrilla/3010719166/