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The Top 24 Customer Service Mistakes

What are the most common mistakes people in customer service make?  The Belding Group asked members of their LinkedIn Customer Service Champions group what they thought.  The tremendous response by over 250 customer service professionals fell into 24 categories.

Below is a list of what they see as the most common, and most significant mistakes people make with their customers, ranked by the number of responses. To see the full commentary – or to add your own, you can visit the discussion here.

1. Not Listening

Either not paying attention, not giving customers’ 100% attention, or not using active listening techniques. This was by far the most mentioned failure, representing 18.3% of comments.


2. Absence of Empathy, Compassion or Apologies

12.5% of comments identified these as the most common customer service mistakes. Many of the comments pointed out that, when we have empathy with our customers, they are often far more understanding and less likely to escalate issues.


3. Absence of Ownership

11.7% of comments identified customer service people not taking ownership over issues as a significant factor. This included inconsistent messaging, not going beyond basic policies, and not being willing to adapt to unique circumstances. This, as the research shows, is the critical element to creating WOW customer experiences.


4. Not Following through, Being Responsive or Delivering on Promises

When we don’t respond in a timely or appropriate manner, of if we make promises that aren’t kept, it can quickly turn small customer service issues into Big Problems. 10.9% of comments.


5. Making Assumptions

10% of comments cited ‘making assumptions’ as a common mistake that leads to poor customer experiences. This included not being respectful enough to find out what the customer is thinking, or what he or she really wants.


6. Not Caring

Comments included ‘treating customers as though they are unimportant,’ and not being 100% focused on customers’ needs.


7. Bad Attitudes

This included complacency, and saying negative things about their company and products.


8. Not Friendly

Comments identified things such as ‘not smiling’ (even when on the telephone), and not making an effort to make customers comfortable.


9. Not Building A Relationship

Customer service people who don’t go beyond the transaction. many people cited ‘sticking to scripts’ as being a big no-no.


10. Integrity

When we aren’t fully honest with customers, bad things happen.


11. Not Acknowledging

Customer Issues
Sometimes it’s just not validating customer concerns. Other times, it’s not echoing the issue back to the customer to ensure you understand.


12. Not Asking Questions

Part of active listening. When, as an expert, you fail to ask enough relevant questions of your customers, you don’t get to the real heart of customer service issues.


13. Not Managing Customer Expectations

Whether it is setting expectations in the first place, or managing potentially unrealistic expectations, it can dramatically impact customer satisfaction.


14. Not Understanding The Importance of Their Roles

All it takes is one person to impact a customer’s perception of the entire company.


15. Not Being Objective

Sometimes customer service people allow their emptions to take over from their intellect.


16. Talking Too Much

This could have fallen into the ‘Not Listening’ category, but it also included customer service people who just talk… and talk… and talk… and talk…


17. No Passion

Customers like people who are passionate about their companies and their jobs. Why should they care about your company if you don’t?


18. Using Jargon

Yes, you might know what a ‘refabricated 1089-6b inverted coil transducer’ is, but if you don’t use language your customer can understand, you just make them feel stupid.


19. Lack of Knowledge

Customers expect you to know stuff. That’s why they’ve called you or come in to see you.


20. No Patience

The customer isn’t the expert. You are. Give them a break!


21. Not Continuously Improving

Respondents said that one of the big failings of people in customer service is not making an effort to continuously improve.


22. Not Identifying Opportunities

When you really listen (see #1), you can often find opportunities that benefit both your company and your customer.


23. Not Controlling the Interaction

The customer service person is the expert. And, just like other experts – Doctors, Lawyers, Scientists – it is that person’s responsibility to take control and make sure the experience is wonderful.


24. Not Educating Customers

If you want your customers to make the best decisions, you need to make sure they have the right information.


How Are You Addressing These?

Each of these 24 customer service mistakes can have negative consequences in customer satisfaction and loyalty, and all are preventable. Make sure you are continuous monitoring, coaching and training your teams!

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