1. Insisting on Outdated Platforms
Consumers do not want to fill out a contact form and its 12+ mandatory fields. They do not want to call and wait on hold. And if they’re under 25, they really don’t even want to email you. When consumers are at your store, a few might complain in person, but most will not. Most customers will simply never return. Others will leave and post on social media about how terrible their experience was.
What do customers want: Social media and Instant Messaging (IM).
Customers want to use social media to learn about your brand, to talk about it and ask questions. Some customers will use social media to receive service and get issues addressed. However that makes them public which not everyone is comfortable with on both sides: the business and the customer.
Give customers IM to get things done, take care of customer service issues and get service on the go. It’s better for them and better for you.
2. Taking Forever
The Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat generation is used to instant responses and immediate gratification. Traditional corporate customer service platforms have a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours, at best. That is way too slow for today’s consumers.
Get used to it. For customers under 40, email pace is what snail mail pace is to baby boomers. If you can’t keep up with customers at their pace, they just move on. The modern consumer is not happy to get a vanilla confirmation email and wait for your contact center to get to its queue. Reply quickly or lose out.
3. Using Template Answers
Look at pretty much every message received from a customer service rep. Don’t they sound like a robot wrote them? That’s pretty close to the truth. Template answers written by some PR exec and vetted by an army of attorneys make companies seem like exactly what they are: big, cold, and covering their a–es.
Customers expect personalized, friendly, authentic service. The template is efficient but unwelcoming. At best, it might make a customer satisfied but it will not make a customer delighted. Thanks to companies like Amazon and Zappos, “delighted” is the new standard. Delighted is what keeps customers coming back and raving about your business to their friends on social media.
4. Not Trusting Their Employees
The customer is a few miles from an employee, sometimes even right there in the store. Yet companies set their customer service center in another state or country, sometimes using an outsourced service provider. With little understanding of the customer’s culture, surroundings and needs, this stranger is going to try to solve their problem? Companies do this because they believe that their own on the ground employees might veer off policy, go off book, and do something wrong that will cause damage. Some companies fear employees might spend too much time dealing with customer issues and not enough time doing their other work.
Here’s the truth: Customer service is and should be the responsibility of on-the-ground employees. Listening to feedback and taking care of complaints is part of selling or providing a service. Companies need to stop separating between them. The managers and staff of most companies are quite capable when hired accordingly and trained properly to respond to a customer. They can even be incentivized to do it well as part of their performance reviews. More than this, as locals, on-the-ground employees can be better at customer service. Let’s put it this way, if someone in another state or country can be trained to do it, so can local employees.
5. They Don’t Humanize
Local employees are the best source for making meaningful connections with customers. People remember people better than they remember places or objects. Most customer facing employees come from the same community as their customers, so there is a better chance of having things in common such as culinary tastes, favorite sports teams, etc. Yet, rarely will customers know anything about the employees serving them.
In fact, the system is designed that way purposefully to keep a professional divide between patrons and servers. In a world where people yearn for the “everybody knows your name” feeling and for small town service feel, companies actually design customer service to be anything but that. It’s even stranger when it’s so clear that creating relationships between people is what keeps customers coming back. Everyone loves that bar where they know the hostess and the bartender and they feel at home. It starts with actual empowerment of employees to help them connect with customers.
In a world where the professional and personal are continuously blending, there is a huge opportunity for companies to differentiate via humanization. Take the mask off of employees and let customers discover the human behind them.
6. They Don’t Customize
Customers, especially young ones, are incredibly comfortable sharing data about themselves – more so than ever before. They also expect, in exchange for that data, that customized, tailored experiences be made available to them. This is part of the power of e-commerce but brick and mortars can have it too. It takes more effort for sure but done right, it’s worth. Customization need not be creepy. When data combines with empowered employees who can make a personal connection with customers, magical service experiences can result.
7. Not Enlisting Their Customers
Customers are more willing to share than ever. Delight them with great service, then ask them to tell the world about it. The best marketing is word-of-mouth, and while in the past “word of mouth” includes 2-10 people at best, we now live in a golden age for it. Every “word of mouth” can find its way to thousands and even millions of people. Make sure it’s positive and then help it get shared.
Most companies do a poor job of enlisting brand advocates. It’s not enough to slap a Facebook icon on your emails and mailings. Companies need to give customers something to share. Create magical service, happy interactions with employees and amazing product experiences. Then, ask customers to share them. Make it easy to do so and reward it with continuous great experiences.
The Result of These Mistakes:
- Slow, out of touch service that is sanitized and uninspiring. Customers are more likely than even to jump ship following a bad customer service experience. A new study by New Voice Media recently found that 44 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds will make the switch.
- Disengaged customers who grumble online. A new study by New Voice Media recently found that 60 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds are happy to retaliate for bad service via negative tweets, feeds, and postings about the company who wronged them.
- Detached employees who don’t reflect the brand’s values. What happens when you trust and empower employees? Just ask Taco Bell.
For customer service programs to work well in the digital age they need to provide:
- Immediate service
- That is personal and human
- Using today’s technology
Is that so hard corporate America?