7 signs that customer service is destroying your business
Excellent customer service has the power to stimulate your business success while poor customer service is the shortest way to kill it. Taking care of customer satisfaction can make up for shortcomings in many areas, even in product quality. But generating a poor customer service experience will not defend itself with anything, not even large-scale marketing activities. So, don't make your customers angry! As soon as you spot a sign of bad customer service, don't hesitate, act!
According to "37 customer experience statistics you need to know for 2022", customer experience is the No 1 priority for the business in the next 5 years. It's no longer the product nor pricing but great customer service that can help to retain customers and is a key to customer acquisition. Zendesk in its report "CX Trends 2022. Improve your bottom line by putting customers at the top" cities the following conclusions from the study:
- 81% of respondents say a positive customer service experience increases the likelihood they’ll make another purchase;
- 76% of respondents say they would switch to a company’s competitor due to multiple bad customer service experiences;
- 74% of respondents say they will forgive a company for its mistake after receiving excellent service.
These data only confirm how important the quality of service is in making purchasing decisions. And what constitutes good customer service? It's mainly customer centricity, personalization, showing empathy, and resolving issues quickly. It is these factors that should be focused on to make customers happy. Below you will find what - on the contrary - constitutes poor customer service and a list of alarming signs that customer service is not going in the right direction.
What is poor customer service?
Bad customer service is when a company fails to satisfy the customers' needs. It can take place on many dimensions and stages of the purchasing process: starting from the point when the client is about to decide to buy or not to buy, through the transaction, till solving some technical issues that may occur once the deal is done. The examples can be as follows:
- not being responsive;
- providing clients with wrong answers or without solution;
- arguing with the client;
- pushing too much on sales rather than trying to understand the real needs of the client;
- being rude;
- lack of flexibility.
The consequences of bad customer service can be really hard to overcome. Be aware of the really first symptoms before they start impacting your business as you may not get a second chance to win your customers' hearts.
Symptoms of poor customer service
No 1: Bad reputation
Negative feedback and bad reviews are the first signs that the reputation is at stake. People are more willing to share their frustration and bad experience rather than positive ones. It's enough that they share their feeling with a friend or publish it on social media and the word of mouth will do the rest.
Customers with negative reviews are a real threat. It takes a long time to build a good reputation but it only takes a few unsatisfied customers to ruin it. That is why it's very important to evaluate customer satisfaction score. If we do this early enough, there is a chance to appease the client before he spills out his grievances further. However, if the milk spills out and the regret post is published on social media, it still requires a reaction like apologizing and offering a solution.
The company's reputation has to be subject to monitoring on regular basis. Knowing what customers say about the brand will provide insight about the quality of service.
No 2: Business starts to lose customers
Customers switching to competitors is the natural consequence of bad customer service. It usually starts with one customer but it doesn't end with one. If corrective actions are not taken on time, the customer churn can make the business bleed out.
Each time, it is necessary to check if this concerns existing, new, or potential customers, and thoroughly analyze what is the reason. And they can be multiple, like for example:
- customers simply can't get in touch with the contact centre;
- employees of the contact centre can't resolve the issue or provide the client with the wrong answer;
- it takes too long of the customer's time to receive the support;
- customer is treated as a number and not as an individual.
Without a client, no business makes sense. And if the customer chooses the competitor, with a high degree of probability, the quality of service requires an audit. Especially if the company starts losing loyal customers. You may observe the first symptoms based on the increased number of complaints. Don't neglect it!
No 3: Losing profits
One of the most painful signs of poor customer service is a downward spiral in financial results. Why? Because good customer service has a direct impact on profit. Loyal customers shop more regularly, create sales by recommending the product to friends, simply don't search for any alternatives. But when they are not satisfied, they switch to other brands and the company suffers from lower sales which leads to lower profits. Why do they decide to leave? Because 67% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Therefore it's very important to analyze financial results on regular basis, not only the numbers themselves but also sources (new customers vs current customers). Special attention needs to be paid to such customer service KPIs as conversion rate and Customer Lifetime Value.
No 4: Too long (average response time and average resolution time)
On the biggest clients' expectations is that the customer services are quick. Time is money and nobody wants to lose it waiting. According to the SuperOffice study, the average response time to respond to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. What about the expectations? 46% of respondents expect companies to respond faster than 4 hours, while 12% of respondents expect a response within 15 minutes or less (the study included 3 200 customers). It looks like some kind of mismatch, doesn't it?
Having above in mind, the great challenge for great customer service is to act quickly, both when it comes to getting in touch with the client and resolving the issue. But it will not happen just like that. The resources of contact centers are limited when it comes to the number of employees. They simply need support in the form of customer service tools.
According to the "Customer Care Report - Trends & Challenges" prepared by BOTWISE, 68% of customer service agents admit that they spend the most time during the day searching for answers to customer questions. The report reveals that customer service agents use on average more than 4 different sources of knowledge every day (including paper notes), which has an impact on extending the response time. This only proves that customer service success depends very much on automating tedious and repetitive tasks. Another way to improve the contact resolution is investing in self-service tools (e.g. FAQ on the website or practical guides for customers on social media) as well as omnichannel communication. The latter, however, will be effective only if we ensure an efficient flow of information, and the report "CX Trends 2022" prepared by Zendesk only proves that (71% of respondents expect a company to share information so they don’t have to repeat themselves).
No 5: Technological gap
Another symptom of poor consumer service is when customers are transferred too many times and too many customers service agents are involved in resolving their issues. This only generates frustration and bad experiences. It has a negative impact on the reputation and leads to a situation when the customers are more willing to make a deal with the competitors.
The effectiveness is the key factor for creating better customer service. It requires a detailed analysis of how the flow of information is organized from the first contact resolution to providing the customer with a satisfying answer. It may also require implementing the right tools, like for example chatbots that can address tedious and simple queries, leaving space for the customer service agents to deal with the more complex ones. Again it needs to be done with due diligence and with taking into account the customers' needs. Citing the report "CX Trends 2022" prepared by Zendesk, the customers are open to new forms of communication that use artificial intelligence. However, they expect a smooth handoff. It means that if a bot asks too many questions and is far from solving the problem, customers want to be switched to a human agent as soon as possible.
This is the area where technology and humans simply have to cooperate. As we wrote in our article "How will customer service change in the future?", the future of customer service is digital. It's mainly because of the still-growing expectations. Customers demand quick service, choice, transparency, flexibility, personal touch, and many more. It's impossible to give them all without the right tools stimulated by artificial intelligence or machine learning.
So if you observe customer churn it may be a result of lagging behind the competition due to technological reasons. Lack of customer service tools creates not only unhappy customers but also unhappy employees. And such a mix means a total threat to a business.
No 6: Turbulence among employees
If you notice within your organization tired, not properly trained, not qualified, or simply unhappy employees treat it as an alarming signal. The customer service agents are in the front line of the contact center, so in case they are not properly prepared for the role or well-motivated, they can make a lot of damage.
Therefore it is very important to make sure that the employees:
- fully understand their roles and responsibilities;
- know the standards of great customer service in the company;
- are familiar with the customer service tools used in the company;
- have adequate soft skills to serve the customers in a friendly manner and with respect.
As soon as you notice any shortcomings in this field, it's good to plan and implement a training policy. The policy should include training for new employees during the onboarding as well as regular training aimed at perfecting the competencies.
But not only unqualified employees can have their part in generating poor customer service. Also, unhappy employees can contribute to this. The worst-case scenario is when the customer service agents are fed up with tedious tasks and decide to leave. This causes problems to secure the availability and quality of service. So taking care of the employee well-being is not an extra effort but a way to make customers happy.
No 7: Lack of positive language
Etiquette is not a thing of the past. It's the basis of the functioning of the contact center. It includes using appropriate words during the first contact resolution as well as ensuring customers that they are treated as individuals.
The future of good customer service requires showing empathy and a human-centric approach. It relates both to new customers as well as current customers. They all want to feel taken care of. If they don't, they will look for friendly support from another company. So if you don't want to lose clients, make them feel like they are the most important value for the organization. Observe the body language and attitude of the employees. If they lack positive language, it's hard to expect that they have the power to make the customer's experience memorable.
Better customer service
Friendly, efficient, and effective customer service is crucial for business success. It takes a lot of effort to earn loyal customers and just a few mistakes to lose them. Therefore, it is so important to be aware of the main symptoms of poor customer service. Once they will be noticed at an early stage, the obstacles can be overcome. There are many actions that can be implemented to build customer satisfaction: introduce customer service gold standards, implement customer service tools, train employees, measure customer service KPIs. Worse if the problem is noticed too late. So let being aware of the signs of poor customer service stimulate your company to deliver high quality and memorable experience to the clients. Because "if you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will” (Bob Hooey).