Ten Rookie Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | Straight Talk

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By Shep Hyken

This article is by Featured Blogger Shep Hyken from his LinkedIn page. Republished with the author’s permission.

In spite of what some people believe, customer service is getting better. Really! It’s just that customers are smarter than ever and know what great customer service is. After all, we teach them. Companies tout their awards and make promises of a great customer experience. Some succeed, and these are the companies that set the bar higher for all others. These companies are the ones your customers are comparing you to. The problem is that the effort of some of some businesses is lagging behind the customers’ ever-increasing expectations.

Alok Kulkarni is the CEO of Cyara, which helps Fortune 1000 clients test and improve customer experiences both on the phone and online. Have you ever experienced a dropped call or poor sound quality with a phone representative? Cyara discovers those gaps so they can be corrected quickly. Kulkarni said, “People no longer tolerate subpar interactions – they simply leave and take their business elsewhere.”

I asked Kulkarni about the biggest mistakes and complaints his company has noticed. He cited 10 customer experience complaints that “shockingly still create tension between companies and the customers they service – customers who increasingly expect real-time, personalized service.” Here they are with my thoughts on each of them:

1. Long phone support wait times. There is a reason people are turning to alternative customer support options beyond the phone, as in self-service options. It’s because they want their information quickly. They don’t want to have to wait on hold, tell the customer service rep their story, or anything else that takes time. Customers don’t like to be kept waiting.

2. Poor connection quality. In this day and age, how can this be? If there is poor connection quality, and it is not attributed to the customer having bad cellular reception, then expect customers to question the quality of anything else your company does.

3. Dropped web or phone connections. Regardless of who is at fault, this is a friction point. It restarts the customer’s journey to fix a problem or have a question answered.

4. Multiple automated prompts. If you watch late-night comedians, you may have heard them making fun of such systems. It’s a sure indication that this way of getting a customer to the correct department or person is not working.

5. Having to enter the same information multiple times. This drives customers crazy. The biggest complaint is that customers have to punch in their account information on their phones before being connected to customer support, only to have to give it again as soon as a CSR comes on the line.

6. Being passed between multiple support agents. I love the companies that have a goal of “first-touch resolution.” They train their people to take care of most issues. And, if they do have to transfer a customer to another person, they make sure that it is only once.

7. Having to sort through unrelated online or phone menu options. The goal is to be easy to do business with. Difficult searches are friction points. Hopefully, you have your most frequently asked questions and most common problems in an easy-to-search format. Be sure to make the additional option of connecting with an agent by chat or phone just as convenient, as a back-up to your other self-service efforts.

8. Poor voice recognition. When Kulkarni shared this concept, the first thing I thought of was how sometimes the virtual response systems don’t recognize what someone is saying. It can be because of a bad connection, an accent, too much noise in the background, etc., but whatever the reason, it is frustrating. I hear people in my office yelling into their phones, hoping the system will recognize their voice. Then I also realized it could be a customer having a difficult time understanding a support center rep’s heavy foreign accent. Regardless, poor voice recognition is a problem.

9. Menu offerings that are not relevant to the customer inquiry. It can be frustrating to seek out a website with the hope of finding a solution to a problem, only to find that none of the options are pertinent to the issue. Self-service customer service is a good option as long as it meets the customers’ needs and answers their questions.

10. No return call. Response time is important. As I read stats and facts about business response times, I’m amazed – or should I say appalled – at the lack of urgency that customers experience from many companies. Worse is no response at all. If a company wants to lose a customer, one good way to do it is to not call him or her back.

Kulkarni believes organizations can avoid these rookie mistakes. “Companies can’t assume that because a customer experience infrastructure is in place that the actual customer experience is at the quality that the customer expects.” His solution is testing to ensure that the systems that connect customers with companies are working – every time, everywhere – to deliver a proper and flawless (make that amazing) customer experience.

Originally published on Forbes.com