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Five Top Tips to Avoid Poor Customer Service

21 Nov 2019
People 1st International
Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and even though customers are more demanding than ever, most people accept that things can go wrong.  What really matters is how their complaint is dealt with – that’s what they will remember and that’s how they will decide what to do next.  How you deal with disappointment is absolutely critical for any customer-focused business.  Just because something has gone wrong doesn’t mean you’ve lost a customer. In fact, in many cases, something going wrong can be an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
Here are our five top tips to help you avoid some common customer service pitfalls:
1. Prioritise customer satisfaction over corporate policy
Our latest research suggests that in an ever-more digital world, personalised human interaction and face-to-face skills will become increasingly important for customer service. To avoid customer service disasters it is therefore critical to ensure that staff are empowered and trained to deal with issues as and when they find them. But the onus shouldn’t just be on staff. It is also up to the organisation to make sure it isn’t putting up barriers in the form of ill-thought out ‘company policies’ or procedures.  Such barriers may benefit the business in the short term but, when at the expense of the customer, could be detrimental to your business in the long term.
2. Build cultural intelligence
Remaining neutral and optimistic when a customer is upset is never easy, especially if there could, in fact, be a cultural explanation for a customer whose behaviour seems excessive. That’s why cross-cultural intelligence and training can help staff to understand customers better. For example, in some cultures it’s normal to raise one’s voice if the person feels this is necessary for them to be heard. And according to cross-cultural expert, David Livermore, it can be incorrect to assume that a customer is trying to ‘go over your head’ when asking to speak to a manager. It may just be they come from a culture where it’s assumed you would prefer to defer this kind of situation to someone more senior.
3. Develop digital and social media skills
Some companies, particularly small ones, fall into the trap of thinking that social media doesn’t really matter and therefore don’t invest adequately in addressing the customer service aspect of their social media channels. Yet, disgruntled customers are quick to pick up on a lack of response or insincere reply to their feedback. They are also likely to broadcast their disappointment via their own social media channels and through word of mouth.  Having a process in place to deal with this type of situation is paramount in order to extinguish a problem before it becomes business critical.
4. The art of discretion
There’s nothing more embarrassing for a customer than having their credit card denied. In industries like retail and food service, this type of scenario happens every day. But as we all know, it’s rare for this to be down to insufficient funds. It’s essential to ensure staff do not vocalise a denied credit card in a way that attracts attention to the situation. Instead,  this type of incident should be handled sensitively and with humour so the customer is not left feeling embarrassed.
5. Put yourself in their shoes
Finally, why not see what it feels like to be a customer engaging with your business. Try being a ‘mystery shopper’ – call your own business, make an enquiry on your website, put in a request to your accounts department – then evaluate the response. Whilst this simple tactic may sound obvious, this level of real-time, experiential assessment and evaluation of the customer experience doesn’t happen as often as you might think. Valuable feedback should be incorporated into the continuous improvement of your own customer service training and development.



We have worked with thousands of businesses to transform their customer experience through WorldHost. Businesses engaged with WorldHost customer service training have reported a number of key benefits including increased revenue, additional repeat business, improved customer service ratings and increased staff motivation. Find out more here.

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