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The Guide to Turning Around Bad Customer Service

Learn how to turn around instances of bad customer service and prevent more going forward.

April 21st, 2017


Elena Lockett

Bad customer service (CS) can be the result of many things and - if it’s not dealt with properly - it can break a business. Being able to pick up on what might be causing bad CS can prevent a PR disaster, or the loss of a lifelong customer. We’re going to tell you what to look out for, and how to turn any instances of bad CS around.

How does bad customer service happen?

Insufficient Training

If your employees aren’t provided with the right training from the get-go, they won't be able to deliver the standard of CS you want them to. People can become lost and out of touch if their employers don't have regular catch-up's and reviews. Training shouldn’t just be a feature at the start of their working careers; refresher sessions should run throughout your employee’s time of service to make sure any operational changes are communicated properly.

Poor Attitude

The bad attitude of an operator can very easily be noticed by a customer. Operators being short and snappy can lead to the consumer walking away upset.

If it's becoming obvious that a member of your team is coming to work with a bad attitude, you need to offer them support. Work with them to understand what the problem is so you can help them find a solution or advise on how to separate it from work. Supporting your operators will improve their relationship with the business whilst also improving their work quality.

Lack of Resources

CS operators can’t be expected to do their job without the right tools. It would be like asking a barista to make coffee without any beans. Whether it’s the software they use to communicate with customers or guides on tone and language, you need to provide your team with the right resources.

Ensuring computers are constantly updated and software appropriately distributed can potentially prevent issues further down the line.

Operators need the right tools to offer great CS Operators need the right tools to offer great CS

Make sure there’s someone there to provide support in case of any issues. That could be the difference between down time due to technological restraints and a smooth-running experience for both operators and customers.

Understanding what makes a bad customer experience (CX) means you can take steps to prevent them from occurring. Implementing training strategies and updating software consistently helps ensure that only good CS is delivered.

Even once you've put into place the systems and processes to hopefully stop bad CS happening, sometimes things slip through the net. But all is not lost; you can make what can seem like a negative for your business into a positive.

How can you turn bad CS around?

Sometimes bad customer service happens. Rather than losing that customer for good, you can convert this mishap into a happy ending. Let us show you how this can become a possibility.

Allow the customer to vent

Customers who have experienced bad CS can become even more agitated if it continues. Customers that have had the chance to speak are likely to be more open to hearing your operators out when they respond.

Monitor the problem

Keeping an eye out for interactions that have moved beyond an operator's ability to resolve allows supervisors to be there before a conversation escalates. Transferring to a supervisor can help unhappy customers feel like their problem is being dealt with. Make sure your operators are given the necessary training to handle difficult queries so they only have to use this tactic sparingly.

Being where your customers want you

If one of your customers has experienced a less-than-perfect standard of CS via email and then can't find you on Twitter, they're bound to get even more upset. In an ideal world, you’d be able to direct customers to your favourite contact channel but, instead, you must be reachable in any place they’d expect you to be.

But that isn't enough; you must also be contactable whenever they want to get in touch. With many people working 9-5, only being available during those hours simply won’t do. Things can go wrong at any time of the day (or night) and you're setting yourself up for a fall if you're not ready and waiting for those queries, especially if your customers are already unhappy with you.

Pro-actively keeping up with the customer

Being proactive and going above and beyond your customers' expectations means they’ll not only be happy, they’ll go and tell their friends of the service they received. If you can see one of your regular customer's bulk orders hasn't turned up on their stated date of delivery, find out why that has happened and then go to the customer with a resolution and an apology. Showing you're interested in more than just making the sale helps them understand that you care. It would be easy to just tell a customer that it's out for delivery and therefore out of your hands. But if you want to turn bad CS into an experience the customer remembers (for the right reasons) you need to push the boat out.

Taking these steps should put you in a good place to turn around any bad CX. But customers don't always come to you with their concerns, instead turning to review sites to vent their frustration. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Why complaints are good for your business

Although it may seem like complaints only can negatively affect your business, and how customers view it, there are plenty of ways to use them to your advantage.

Use complaints to improve

Only 5% of unhappy customers complain Only 5% of unhappy customers complain

If no one complains about your service, you may think everything is A-Okay and continue doing exactly what appears to be working. But there could be severe issues with your business processes that your customers aren’t pointing out to you.

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on your customers to find faults within your service, but they can help identify any areas of concern. 

If customers are complaining about your email service, look into what is causing issues. If, during checkout, products are disappearing from baskets without alerting the customer, get your web team to delve deeper into the issue.

A cry for help is better than radio silence

Given only 5% of unhappy customers go to businesses to complain, it’s important to encourage them to provide feedback to help you improve your service. It’s better to receive a complaint than lose that customer altogether.  In fact, it has been proven that many customers who are unhappy don’t go back to that store. Ever.  A complaint is often a call for help. This gives you a chance to fix that relationship. But, if you let that signal go unnoticed, customers will take that as a sign to take their custom elsewhere.

Get the lowdown on your competitors

Your competitors are always out to get the upper hand and, if you want to remain a threat, you should be looking for ways to gain an advantage over them too. Ask your customers for feedback so you can understand what they think your competitors are doing better than you. It could be the service they’re offering or the extra little things they do to make them feel special. Honest feedback like this can teach you much more than any market research ever will.

Keeping your current customers is cheaper

It costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Plus, most of your sales come from your existing customers. This reinforces the importance of successfully resolving your current customers' issues.

Prevention is so much better than the cure; it would be best to already have processes in place to ensure bad CS is avoided at all costs. But, if it does happen, be ready for it. We can all have bad days; it’s how you react and deal with these problems that will show customers what you truly think of them. Put the time and effort into changing their view of you and you'll see the benefits come rolling in. Excellent brand management can stop these bad days in their tracks and, at FM, we pride ourselves on knowing how to cope with the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Interested in learning more on how we improve your brand reputation? Contact us today!


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