Customer Experience News & Trends

5 things customers hate about talking to you

Despite the hype that doing business online is easier than ever, customers still call. They need personal help — and they often aren’t happy with it. 

Why? Sometimes customer service and sales pros do too much or too little in the conversation. Their habits or training leave customers dissatisfied.

Still, 80% of customers prefer to use the phone when they need help — but only about half make the call when they need it, a TalkDesk Inc. survey found.

To make conversations better, customer service and communications expert Peggy Morrow suggests front-line professionals avoid these five mistakes that often happen in one-on-one conversations:

1. Talking too much

You’d think that when customers ask for help, they’d ask their question and want to listen to the expert. But they often want to be heard more than they want to hear answers.

Service and sales professionals sometimes want to share all of their expertise, so they give more details than necessary, talk too fast or jump in before customers finish their stories.

Avoid this by asking more questions, then listening for answers. Take notes to stay busy … and silent.

2. Forgetting feelings

Many times, customers want their feelings fixed more than they want their issues fixed. But front-line professionals want to help, so they spring into solution-mode before they acknowledge or ask about how customers feel.

“Don’t just take it at face value and move onto something else,” says Morrow.

Try to connect on a personal level. These phrases can help:

  • “I can understand why this would be frustrating (upsetting, exciting).”
  • “From what I can hear, you feel … Is that right?”
  • “How do you feel about that?”

3. Interrupting

Most customer service professionals hear the same questions and issues several times a day. So when a customer starts to describe what’s going on, the person who is helping might cut him or her off and finish the thought.

While those interruptions might get you to the solution quicker, they don’t create a good customer experience.

One solution: Let customers finish their thoughts, then say, “I think I know where we’re going. If I’m right, you need …. If that’s right, I know exactly what we can do.”

4. Topping the problem

Service and sales pros have heard it all. So they might be tempted to become a “topper” — someone who always has a better story than the one being told. You don’t want to compare customers’ situations to others you’ve heard or experienced.

You also want to avoid minimizing what they’re experienced. Avoid phrases such as:

  • “It’s not that bad”
  • “I had a customer who had it worse.”
  • “No biggie.”

Remember, whatever the situation, it’s important or a big deal to the customer.

5. Using words and actions that don’t match

If you work with customers face-to-face, they can see you saying one thing — “I’ll be happy to help you” — while your arms are crossed, which suggests to them you aren’t ready to help. Even if you don’t see customers, they can sense mixed messages. Tone often speaks louder than words, and if customers hear you ask about their concerns, yet you sound distracted, they’ll sense you don’t care.

The best way to avoid sending mixed messages is to stay focused on the customers and the conversation. Remove as many distractions as possible from your sight — such as extraneous screens on your computer and mobile phones.

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