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7 Reasons It’s Not Good Customer Service

25th May 2011

7 Reasons It’s Not Good Customer Service

Let’s face it,  customer service is very easy to get wrong and sometimes very hard to get right.  You can read all the tips and hold training for your employees and mandate exactly how customer questions and complaints are to be handled and still find out the way you handle things isn’t working for your customers.    The hard truth is that the opinion about what constitutes good customer service varies.  Each individual customer will have a different idea about what serves their needs best,  and what delights one customer won’t be nearly enough to satisfy another.

So this is the challenge you face,  how do you know when you’ve created a good customer service strategy? How can you tell when your strategy is flexible enough to meet the needs of your customers,  but has enough boundaries that your staff knows where the lines are and can manage their interactions with customers capably?   It’s a tough question,  so perhaps the easiest way to answer is to spell out what, in my opinion at least, is not good customer service.

It’s not good customer service if:

  1. It’s one size fits all. Different customers will have different needs and you have to be ready to adapt to meet them.
  2. Your customers dread interacting with you. Rude reps,  long, convoluted phone menus, we’ve all dealt with them.  If your customers heave a sigh before they dial your number,  your not offering them the service they deserve.
  3. It takes forever to get a response. The maximum time a customer should wait is 24 hours, and I think even that’s stretching it.  If you can’t resolve the problem at the initial contact, at least let the customer know you’re aware of their problem and are working on it.
  4. Your customers are told you shouldn’t have bothered us with that. Yes, your company may have suppliers.  Yes,  your company may have partnerships and you may spell out how certain problems are supposed to be handled on your website or in your collateral material.  Customers are still going to call you.  Be nice and be helpful when they do.
  5. Nobody answers your phone. I understand why companies use automated phone systems,  it’s a savings on customer service personnel, a lot of calls may be routine,  it’s available 24/7, there are a million reasons.  The best reason for not using one,  or using one only to route calls is this:  people like to talk to people.   If you have to spend five minutes going through a menu and repeatedly insist you need to talk to a human being before you’re allowed to do so,  then you’ve put too many barriers in front of your customers.
  6. You think you’re the only game in town. If you offer a specialty service,  it’s easy to think you’re the only option so people have to come to you.   No one has to do business with your company.   If may be inconvenient or more expensive,  but there is always another alternative.   If you’re customer service is bad enough,  people will find it.
  7. It isn’t flexible. Rules are necessary and every customer service plan worth its salt will have them.  The problem comes when the rules can never be broken.   Good customer service has to be able to bend to meet the needs of the customer.

Obviously,  these are my opinions on what makes bad customer service.  I’d love to know what your ideas about what makes for bad customer service are,  so please leave them in the comments.  You should also remember, if you run a business,  the surest way to figure out how to offer customer service that will delight your customers is to ask them what they want and need.

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