Customer Experience News & Trends

4 bad habits Customer Service needs to kick

Most customer service operations are plagued by at least one bad habit that customers hate. Do you commit any of the following?

Every company has good customer experience intentions. But red tape, dated thinking or resistance to change can interfere with those intentions.

“Then they fall into some bad habits that not only complicate the experience, but also damage their own productivity,” says Robert C. Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport, a customer support software company.

Here are the four worst customer service habits, plus practical ways to get out of them — or avoid them altogether:

1. Practicing tiered support

Tiered support served an important role at one time when customers called for nearly every need, Johnson says. Moving calls to a service rep based on the level of help a customer needed and the aptitude the employee had made sense when customers only used one channel and had patience for being transferred if a situation called for it.

Today, customers solve many of their simple issues in self-service options. Or use social media, email and online chat to get help.

More complex situations call for a more collaborative model.

For instance, at TeamSupport, one person will take the lead on a customer inquiry (regardless of the channel it came through), and a larger group will see it through, if necessary. The lead service pro will contact someone in Tech Services, Engineering or Logistics to get all the answers, rather than push a customer to a colleague or two. They collaborate, and the customer gets an answer from one, reliable source.

2. Scripting responses

You’d think that with less and less phone interaction between customers, there’d be fewer scripts guiding front-line customer service professionals. Yet, scripts are still going strong, and have expanded to email, social media and chat, in some cases.

“It’s pretty painful,” Johnson says. “But scripts can be useful. They’re better suited for self-service knowledge, if we can push people to that.”

The key to effectively getting customers to use self-service and appreciate the “scripted” responses is “diligence and intelligence,” says Johnson.

At TeamSupport, customer service pros regularly update the information on a portal so customers get updated answers and information. TeamSupport also uses customer-focused language.

And if customers can’t find what they need, there’s a way to start a chat or create a ticket for personalized help.

3. Patching technology

Many customer service operations evolved with customer needs. That meant they took calls, then faxes, then email, then chat and now social media requests as customers demands changed. While the response channels matured, the systems behind them my not have grown as effectively.

In many cases, companies haven’t integrated all of the channels. In some unfortunate cases, customers make email inquiries that aren’t answered as quickly as they’d like. So they call to follow up — and the person who answers doesn’t see or know about the original inquiry because the email system can’t update the phone system and customer database.

“When the tools aren’t connected, it really isn’t omni-channel or multi-channel,” Johnson says.

It’s smart to offer the channels that customers want, but only if all of them can work in conjunction with each other.

4. Skipping communication training

Teaching people to communicate better is one of the biggest challenges customer experience leaders face. So they often don’t try to do it.

“There’s no easy answer to this,” Johnson says. “But we try to find good communicators during the hiring process.”

TeamSupport tests writing skills because most service pros need to write in email, on social media and in chat. Then they do periodic coaching on grammar, tone and how to add empathy to spoken and written communication.

They also try to gauge customer reactions to how front-line employees communicate. At the end of transactions, customers are asked to rate the experience on a “Happy Face, Neutral Face or Sad Face” scale, plus leave a comment, if they’d like.

With the immediate feedback, leaders can see if any communication coaching needs to be done.

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