Excellent customer service is the cornerstone of keeping your business alive and well. Of course, providing customer with high-quality services and products is also important, but how you interact with your customers and nurture those working relationships is essentially what convinces them to do business with you in the first place. Regardless of the size of your business, every single customer wants and deserves to feel valued, whether they’re spending large or small sums of money.
At the end of the day, it’s important to nurture those relationships and provide outstanding customer service that sets you apart from your competition. Customers remember service quality, efficiency, professionalism, competence, and compassion. These are the very qualities that stick out in people’s minds when it comes to making company, product, and service recommendations.
Unfortunately, though, bad customer service can often overshadow all of these factors. But, that’s just one of the many hidden costs of bad customer service that could destroy your brand reputation and bottom line. What is poor customer service and how can it negatively impact your business? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about identifying bad customer service, as well as ways to improve your customer relations.
What Does Bad Customer Service Entail?
The definitions of good and bad customer service may seem arbitrary depending on the industry you work in and the circumstances you’re dealing with, but there are a few basic indicators of poor customer service that are universal.
Here are a few examples of bad customer service:
- Ignoring or failing to acknowledge customer questions or comments in person, via e-mail, or on social media
- Being outright rude to customers
- Not taking feedback or criticism well
- Telling customers that you can’t help them
- Using false advertising to lure more customers in, but then failing to deliver on goods and services
- Extremely slow response times to inquiries
- Insulting customers because they complain about a product or service
Within reason, basically any instance in which a customer’s needs and expectations aren’t met can be considered an example of poor customer service. While it’s important and even advised to always try to go above and beyond to deliver an amazing customer experience, it’s also important to carefully gauge the situation and make sure you’re not about to do something that could potentially get you fired. If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to perform certain tasks for a customer, it’s best to ask your manager either to advise you or take over the situation. Never let a customer intimidate you into doing something you know goes against company policy.
What’s Your Customer Response Time?
Customer response times fall under a number of categories from answering e-mail inquiries to responding to reviews and even the amount of time customers spend waiting on hold over the phone. Answering customer inquiries or responding to comments and reviews as quickly as possible can help improve the overall customer experience and keep customers interested in supporting your business.
The longer a customer has to wait to hear back from you, even if it’s just for a minor issue, the more likely they are to turn to your competition. Expediency and efficiency are two key factors when it comes to delivering excellent customer service and making a good lasting impression. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time a customer is interacting with your business or if they’ve been a customer for many years, the basic principle remains the same: fast response times improve customer relations and increase the likelihood that they’ll keep coming back for more.
On average, it shouldn’t take you longer than an hour to respond to social media inquiries, online reviews, e-mails, and live chats. Customers calling on the phone shouldn’t be kept on hold longer than 5-10 minutes. If you’re having a hard time keeping up with the customer inquiry volume across all of these mediums, then it may be time to increase your staff or work on improving other areas of service such as lowering your mean time to resolution (MTTR).
What Are the Little-Known Costs of Poor-Quality Customer Service?
When it comes to customer experiences, the fact of the matter is that people are more likely to spread the word about a poor customer experience than if they had a good experience. While it’s true that people are more than happy to give out recommendations about a business they had a positive experience with when asked, the problem is that these recommendations often don’t come up organically in conversation.
With that in mind, businesses need to be more hypervigilant when it comes to improving customer experiences. Here are a few ways in which poor-quality customer experiences can cost your business:
- Diminishing sales efficiency. This is especially true for service-based businesses and B2B businesses that typically rely on positive customer feedback and recommendations. Always keep in mind that unhappy customers are far more likely to leave reviews than happy ones and how you handle these types of situations reflects your business.
- Customers lost for life. In most cases, you get one chance to make a good impression and failing to do so means losing customers for life. Once that seed is sown, it’s hard to uproot it and it can spread like weeds to other prospective customers.
- Small changes that put customers off. Retaining existing customers has been proven to be far more profitable than acquiring new customers. So, any small changes to products, services, or accounts can be off-putting for existing customers. Make customer retention a higher priority than customer acquisition.
- Ruined company reputation. Companies go down for things like disappointing customers on a regular basis and as mentioned, word spreads quickly about bad customer service. Redeeming your brand reputation is an uphill battle that you don’t want to have to face. Many companies have tried, but few have succeeded.
- Plummeting candidate talent pool, employee morale, and retention rates. A bad reputation doesn’t just mean losing your customer base. It could also mean losing valuable employees. No one wants to work for a company that everyone hates because the first people to receive the brunt of that negativity are your employees, especially sales and customer service representatives.
3C Contact Services: The Customer Service and Experience Solution You Need
As one of the leading customer service organizations in North America, 3C Contact Services has helped build and improve customer relations for numerous companies and we can help you too. Contact us today to learn all about the services we offer.