Five customer service mistakes that drive us crazy

We all work hard for our money, so when it comes to spending it we expect a certain level of customer service. But as you know, we don’t always get it and that creates a degree of disappointment. Whether it’s splashing out for a special dinner, buying a new car, or booking in for a new haircut, we’re often faced with frustrating buying experiences that let us down. But’s what they do about it that counts.

From conducting hundreds of thousands of phone-based surveys on customer experience across a range of industries, I’ve identified the five key areas that generate the most common complaints. They are:

1) Communication: this is by far the most significant; calls/emails aren’t answered as expected. The frequency isn’t enough and customers have to follow up with the business when it should be the other way around. Miscommunication and confusion causing a lot of wasted time, when all of it could have been avoided.

Objective; never have a customer contact you twice for the same reason.

2) Knowledge: lack of training and awareness of what’s required and not ensuring the responsibility of being able to give the correct advice. This leaves customers in a predicament they didn’t expect, and it always costs us money, a wasted few hours can be very expensive to a customer.

Objective; always ensure your team have the training required to be a champion of knowledge.

3) Efficiency: the impact of being inefficient has a deep and lasting effect. This is usually due to systems and procedures not being optimised. Have you ever been messed around from a bad process or attitude and in that moment decided you aren’t ever going back? Think telcos, banks, energy companies, or automotive businesses.

Objective; ensure you can measure optimal efficiency and predict how to achieve it.

4) Delivery: often the last point of a transaction and the real human experience of a company. So many businesses fail to ensure their delivery team are clear on the vital importance of this touchpoint. Have you ever had a purchase where it all seems terrific and then at the very end the delivery process crashes your whole experience?

Objective; empower your delivery team to be the custodians of customer experience and understand their critical importance in being the face of the company.

5) Price: there is one undisputable relationship around price – the relationship between service experience and the price tag. If your service experience is very high, customers are happy to pay a premium. If the experience is low, then it better be cheap or why else should I buy from you? Ask any person loyal to their hairdresser if they can find a cheaper one. The answer is always yes, but it’s the service excellence the keeps you there, otherwise if the skill was comparable, you’d go to the cheaper option.

Objective; you must ensure you become a value driven experience model to optimise margin, if you don’t then it’s all about your price tag.

The funny thing is, the most common complaints from customers are often quite easy to resolve. In fact, most could have easily been avoided in the first place, if only the focus was on the outcome rather than just doing what has to be done now. I know a business that lives by the mantra “we haven’t mastered our service with a customer until they personally refer a friend to us”. This is a true commitment to excellence as they always focus into the future to first ensure their customer returns. Whilst this can be hard to deliver on, at least they know they’ll have loyal customers like you and me.

Darrell Hardidge, CEO, Saguity, and author of “The Client Revolution and The 10 Commandments of Client Appreciation”