5 Crimes of Customer Care

by Michelle McGinnis on Friday, April 6, 2012 in Marketing Efficiency

It’s not corporate espionage, but the way some businesses treat their customers can seem downright criminal.

In the age of the Internet, customer support should be everyone’s concern. Failing to take it seriously can result in catastrophe for your brand. (Just ask this guy!)

Consider this: At any given moment a significant percentage of a corporation’s current and future revenue is exposed to the interactions customers and prospects have with a company’s frontline employees. If you accept that premise, then you understand a company needs a thought-out customer support program so frontline employees don’t commit any of the following customer care crimes.

1. Did you hear anything I said?
From providing rote answers that don’t apply to forcing the customers to repeat themselves, support organizations can easily turn off a customer. This has real impact on a company’s ability to increase both customer satisfaction and product adoption. Scripts are not necessarily a bad thing, but without the ability to improvise customers might feel like they just took part in a bad play.

2. Okay, you said it with such confidence that it must be right.
This is probably the most insidious crime of all. When we call experts for help, we assume we’ll get the best. We assume we will get information we didn’t before and that that information will help address our problem.

But when it turns out they’re totally wrong, our trust quickly erodes. To a certain degree we suspend whatever natural inclination we might have to be skeptical and invest faith in the person on the other end of the communication line. So support pros shouldn’t be so sure of themselves that they sound dismissive.

3. I think they forgot about me.
This one is so easy to avoid for support organizations yet happens too often. We all know how it feels to put your trust in a rep who has promised you answers only to never hear back. Make sure your reps understand a commitment to timeliness as well as accuracy.

4. I’ve been down this road before, and it’s not good.
When Home Depot opened its doors many years ago they revolutionized the in-store experience by doing two things well:  staff were well trained about the products and they physically walked customers to the exact location of a particular item.

Good support organizations own the customer’s reported problem. They make sure it’s logged, understand the problem, pursue a resolution, and don’t ask the customer to call another department. It is an extremely shortsighted tactic to send the customer on a solo journey into the labyrinth of departments. Support reps should feel a responsibility to make the customer’s path to a resolution is as simple as possible.

5. You expect me to read all this?
This is a tough one for support organizations. Often there are multiple ways to achieve a goal or to resolve a problem.  Sometimes the best answer can only be found by providing the customer with alternatives in the form of articles or tips written by other users. Bad customer care occurs when this tactic becomes support’s easy way out and they start blanketing their customers with a sea of paper.

Good customer support can turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive one for a brand. It just requires a commitment from your brand.

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