Customer Experience News & Trends

6 bad customer service habits your company needs to break now

Bad habits get in the way of good customer service. The bigger problem is, many companies don’t even realize they’re guilty of these faux pas.

As long as customers buy, they’re happy and the relationship must be good, right? But wouldn’t you like the relationship to be great?

Relationships can improve — and so can the overall health of your organization — if you avoid the six worst customer service habits. These behaviors are bearable if they happen occasionally. But if customers experience them again and again, they’ll be irked enough to walk, according to Joseph and JoAnn Callaway, authors of Clients First: The Two Word Miracle.

What not to do

Here are the bad habits to avoid:

  • Breaking the 80-20 rule. Customers don’t want to hear you talk. They want to do the talking, and they want you to do the listening. Tip: Remember the 80-20 rule: Customer service pros should listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time.
  • Going through the motions. Customer service work can be monotonous. Too much of that can lead to apathy, which customers can sense when their issues and questions are treated as if they were just one in a sea of a million. Tip: To make customers feel like their issue is unique and deserves individual attention, use the same language they do so they can tell you listened and absorbed it all.
  • Fudging the truth. Customer service professionals don’t purposely lie to customers. But they sometimes state things or make promises they’re not 100% sure are accurate. For instance, they think a delivery will make a customer’s deadline, but they aren’t sure it’s feasible, so they say, “Yeah, that should work.” Customers need to know the full truth, even when it’s not what they want to hear. Tip: The old adage holds true — under promise, over deliver. Tell them only what you know is 100% accurate. If there are any uncertainties, explain why you can’t make a promise on the information.
  • Putting up pretense. Acting too professional can come off as standoffish and impersonal. Yes, it’s important to be professional in the words we choose, the actions we take and the image we show. But adding some humor or personality to interactions is important. Tip: Ask at least one question — perhaps about the weather, favorite pets, a sports event — that has nothing to do with business when talking with customers.
  • Calling all the shots. You do know a lot about your business and what works best for customers. Customers need your input and some space to make their final decisions. Tip: Give customers all the information you can, including opportunities to talk to other customers who’ve been in their situation. It’ll help them make the best decision they can without your direction.
  • Failing to show gratitude. Customers have come to expect a “Thank you” at the end of conversations, so they barely notice it. Bigger gestures of appreciation are almost a must these days to make customers feel good about doing business with you. Tip: Send personal notes at least yearly. Thank them out of the blue with a discount or promotional perk.

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