5 Crisis-Causing Customer Service Mistakes To Avoid

Erik Bernstein crisis management

5 Crisis-Causing Customer Service Mistakes To Avoid

One of the best titles we’ve ever seen on a customer service desk nameplate is, “Director of First Impressions.” It showed they knew they were in a make-or-break position for their business, and that they were well aware initial opinions of clients are often influenced by how they were treated right off the bat – even if they were having a bad day.  In fact, especially when they were having a bad day!

Experts agree that consistently strong customer service is a huge part of preventing otherwise-avoidable crises, which is why today we’d like to discuss what we’ll call The Top 5 Crisis-Causing Mistakes in Customer Service.

  1. Engaging without consideration. Before walking into the room or picking up that phone you should take a moment to consider what your goal is for the conversation and how you plan to get there. Most practices see similar categories of issues popping up with some regularity, and you may want to put together an actual playbook with if/then reactions for common events.Part of prior prep is evaluating your own mental bandwidth for the day too. If you know you’re at risk of representing yourself or your business in a less-than-ideal way then consider whether it’s possible to seek a quick second opinion or even hand the task off entirely.
  2. Responding too slowly. Yes, I know we just said to take a moment to plan before you engage, and don’t worry that advice still stands. However, at this point just about everyone does expect a same-day response when they submit a concern or complaint. Here’s a tip to buy you some extra time when needed – it’s perfectly fine to reply with something like…“We take your concerns seriously and are looking into this now. We’ll be in touch again by X day.” That deadline can’t be too far in the future though, or folks will assume you aren’t taking things seriously. 
  3. Not responding at all. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, nothing says “we don’t care” like ignoring a customer. The tragedy is that fully ignoring someone usually isn’t an intentional act but rather a problem with malfunctioning or hard-to-use phone, email, or web systems. Anyone who’s ever had an automatic customer service phone number cut them off can sympathize with how frustrating this is for folks! Regularly try using your various contact methods as a customer might to make sure they’re actually functional.
  4. Not giving customer service staff sufficient tools for spot resolutions. While the realities of business mean not everyone can be authorized to make every decision, your customer service staff needs to be equipped with the tools to resolve low-level issues “on the spot” before they become full-blown reputation threats – a standard discount that already exists in your systems which can be applied to help defuse situations where clients feel slighted or underserved, for example.
  5. Not training (and re-training) customer service staff. If customer service is crucial to the health of your business then it only follows that you want your staff to be top-notch. Regular training and education, including sharing resources like this list, can help ensure they are ready to do the best job possible representing your brand in-person, over the phone, and online.

There’s no denying that customer service is a huge part of the formula when it comes to your general reputation, and those ever-important online review! Taking our tips to heart should help you avoid more customer service-related reputation issues where you can, along with lessening the impact of those that were simply unavoidable.

The BCM Blogging Team