5 common customer service complaints and how to fix them
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By Swati Kungwani, business analyst and content manager, iTouchVision
A retail business can never be immune from complaints. If you want customers, complaints are complimentary. Turning these complaints into compliments should be your goal. Customer is the ultimate king. It's never so easy to please the king because he will never settle for something lesser than superior.
New Age customers are tech-savvy and dynamic. They take no time to exit and give a negative shout out if something goes wrong. That's why; a business should have a strong customer service game plan. Retail businesses face constant pressure to deliver excellent products and services.
Customers invest their hard earned money to buy products. It is quite tough and at the same time easy for an organization to keep them happy. It's tough if they don't have the right strategy and tools. And, it's easy if they focus on providing a worthy experience.
To do this herculean task, a retailer needs to pay attention to some of the issues faced by the customer and ensure timely actions:
Only automation — inaccessible human beings
Automation aims to ease human effort. But, there is a certain way of doing it. Not many customers appreciate the human-to-machine interaction. Retailers cannot rely only on automation to serve their customers. Reason? It might be very frustrating for the customer to make a machine understand his/her problem. It may happen the customer gets stuck in the loop of automated service without getting any solution. Besides that, he/she has no way to explain a certain issue if it's not listed in the automated service categories. For the not-so-tech-savvy customers, it can be very frustrating if they have no means to connect with a human agent.
E-commerce retail companies need to be extra cautious with bots. A bank was caught in the trap of automated customer service. During the Occupy movement, one of the activists sent out a tweet and the bank's automated response was no less than a nightmare. There were meaningless tweets from the account without knowing what the matter was. Instead, a human touch could have saved them big time.
Fix: Customer support is not only about chatbots and virtual assistants. Whether it is over calls, emails or social media, ensure human presence to some degree. The blunders of auto replies have made many companies suffer badly on social media. People remember such stories for years and it creates negative marketing.
Unresolved issues — first impression counts
What if a person complaining about something or seeking help has to again complain about his complaint yet not solved? Sounds complex? Well, it is horrible for a customer when the complaint is not addressed. In fact, it creates one more complaint. A company should beware of this complaint hoop. Many times, a complaint is left unattended because the salespersons or service executives have no idea about the solution so they close it. It can be quite messy. In such a situation, the complainant may contact again with more frustration or chose to quit.
J. Crew was able to differentiate itself in the market. The company exhibited high standards of customer service. A customer used his ‘one-time' coupon the company's factor page that sells new arrivals in limited amounts. He accidentally cancelled the order. The customer then wrote an email to the support team and they were happy to help him. They asked him to call and confirm the order. Somehow, he failed to call for his order. However, one of the customer service representatives called him and helped him buy the things with the original coupon. A true example of a happy solution.
Fix: Customer service representatives have to be on their toes. It is necessary to have a team with sound knowledge of the product in question. Equip them with the right software that helps them to be accurate and quick with the answers. This will make them capable to solve the issues possibly in the very first interaction.
Untrained Staff — lack of skills and personal touch
Customers never appreciate careless attitude. The staff attending customers should exhibit certain etiquette. Often, customers complain about the rude and irresponsible behavior of the agents. A person in problem may have a bad tone or throw his anger on the agent. But, a salesperson should be calm and patient. Instead of mirroring the frustration, the executive should take charge of the situation and give personal attention until the end. Each employee of the company should be dedicated to show up to the customers and set an example.
It also means understanding customer's tone. Netflix's service representative Mike Mears showed what it takes to create a lifetime experience for the customer. A Netflix user was facing issues while streaming the television show "Parks and Recreation." He reported the problem to Mike in a live chat. Mike took the conversation to a new level by enacting the persona of a Star Trek captain. At the end of the chat, Mike could solve the problem as well as ensure the customer is awestruck.
Fix: Proper training programs are mandatory. Your service executives should reflect the business values and ethos. Train your sales, in-store employees or online executives to be friendly, concerned, take responsibility and earn loyalty. Ensure your employees have positive communication skills and emotional intelligence.
Endless waiting — tangled communication
We are in the digital era. Nobody likes to wait. The customers expect the communication to be instant. Passing an issue between departments and agents increases customer's agony. Even an agent himself should be sharp enough to extract customer's data and respond as soon as possible. Or, in retail stores there should be well-maintained queues. Keeping a conversation on hold is not appreciated unless it is very much required. Such a situation arises if there's no clear separation of expertise and teams. Or, if the employees are not having the right platform where they can see customer history and come up with a solution.
Imagine a customer service call that lasts eight hours long without a solution. Sounds terrible? Well, it happened with Corbin Smith. He placed an order with TigerDirect that got cancelled. He called the customer support to seek alternatives. Instead of getting a solution, the agent put his call on hold for eight hours. Such was the tragedy that he began live-tweeting about the incident. Corbin continued his daily routine all this while. Still, there was no sign of an answer. In the end, the phone disconnected the call. Five days later, the company apologized and sent the product for free. But, such a mistake injured the reputation.
Fix: Avoid the customer interaction loops. Passing the case to infinite team members doesn't help. Also, a complaint made once by the customer should not come again. Using a bespoke software to maintain records is helpful. Configure timely reminders, alerts, feedback, and follow-ups to make sure there is no problem as well as the customer is associated with you as he should be!
Competitor's superiority — failing to fill the gaps
Time and again, you might get to hear from your customers that they are getting better deals and service from other companies. Retail competition is getting tougher day-by-day. Survival is not easy as it may appear. To win the game, a company should be best at customer service and make it a differentiator factor. Complaints about limitations related to product, service, policies, availability, and prices as compared to the competitors are quite common. It's an open competition where customers choose the best return for the price they are paying.
A distressed father of a 14-year autistic old child had a difficult time convincing his son to drink anything without his favorite cup. The child refused to consume out of any other cup. His father posted the photo of the cup on Twitter and asked for help. It reached the manufacturers of the cup Tommee Tippee. Realizing the importance of the cup they again manufactured 500 pieces of the discontinued cups for a lifetime supply. The story won a lot of hearts.
Fix: Keep a close watch on the latest trends. To win the game in the market, your business should be customer centric. Be available across multiple channels. Act on customer suggestions to implement new things. It's not just the product or price but service matters over everything else.
Customer service in the business retail is all about ending the woes of the complainant. Don't increase the pain to an extent that they cut off the ties. A customer complaint is a business opportunity. You may never know what the next customer has to say. Being prepared to handle them is the key. Hear them out, work around and rectify it to streamline the processes. Don't call it a day till you can make a customer smile.