12 Biggest Customer Service Challenges and How To Solve Them

Customer Service Challenges.

Learn How To Solve the 12 Biggest Customer Service Challenges With These Tips

Customers interact with your business through your customer service team. This team is the voice of your business. According to American Express, 68% of customers believe that a polite customer service agent is the key to providing great service.

How your team members handle them is crucial to your business’ success.

American Express Stats Customer Service

If you want to keep your customers happy and have them come back to your business, you need to achieve customer satisfaction and have no room for poor customer service.

Handle them poorly, and customers will bolt to a competitor, slashing revenues. According to the statistics published by Review 42, more than 40% of customers stop doing business with a company after a poor customer service experience.

These challenges can be stressful for the customer support team if they don’t know how to handle them. Thankfully, we are here to help by providing customer service solutions.

The key to handling these challenges of customer service is knowing how to respond effectively and on time.

That, in turn, enhances customer experience, boosts customer loyalty, and increases corporate profitability.

Below are 12 common and biggest customer service challenges businesses face daily as well as solution ideas on how to turn them into relationship-building opportunities:

1. Not having an answer to the customer’s questions

Handling this challenge is more about what you shouldn’t do than what you should do.

The key is to avoid being unclear in your response.

If you do not have the answer, acknowledge the question’s difficulty, ask them for time to find a solution, then guarantee you’ll contact them.

2. Transferring calls to another department

There will be times when the best way to help a customer is to transfer the customer to another person.

When that happens, you first need to let customers know you’re transferring them to someone that will help.

But avoid the mistake of doing a “blind transfer.” Meaning you transfer the customer to another customer service rep without verifying they are available to take their call.

How do you think they will feel if someone is expecting a live person but gets a voicemail?

Customer Satisfaction

3. Failing to understand what customers want

Customers can have a hard time explaining what they want. They may not know the technical jargon to tell you exactly what the problem is.

If possible, ask the customer to take you step-by-step through their issue.

You might find it helpful to take notes while they explain.

Consider sharing the problem with another customer support agent. A second opinion could help you solve the issue quickly.

4. Dealing with angry customers

Even the best companies get calls from angry customers.

The key is first to calm them down to find out how you can help them.

One approach is to use the HEARD technique for helping customers — Hear. Empathize. Apologize.


5. Exceeding customers’ expectations

The trick to beating this challenge is setting reasonable customer expectations and meeting and exceeding them. Exceeding the expectations of customers can generate repeat business.

The key to doing that is to take a customer-centric approach. Then, generate data that tells you exactly what customers want. Use print, electronic, and social media to produce that kind of data.

6. Serving multiple customers

Customers are okay with being put on hold if it helps resolve their issues. Telling customers that you’re going to put them on hold to solve their problems buys you time to talk with the other customer.

Above all, avoid telling the first customer you’re talking with a second customer. And don’t leave customers on hold for a long time.

multiple customers

7. An outage or other crisis occurs

Is there anything worse than having a power failure or a crisis? Severe emergencies, like security breaches, can be deadly.

How do you handle them? First, put a crisis communication plan in place. That tells employees precisely what they have to do during a crisis. Then, when customers call, you need to apologize to customers for what they’re going through.

Also, provide constant updates—say once every 30 minutes— to help reassure nervous customers.

Once everything’s over, you can publish a post-mortem.

8. Customers want a discount you can’t give

Discounting can get customers to buy from you. But it also devalues your brand’s perception in the customer’s eyes. So, use this strategy sparingly.

No customer likes to hear “no” from a customer service agent. Explain to them why you can’t give them the discount.

Customers want a discount

9. Customers want a feature you won’t or can’t add

The biggest challenge when speaking to customers is saying no. But sometimes you must. Here’s a way to do it gracefully:

  • Keep your tone positive.
  • Be personal. Forget templated responses.
  • Offer a workaround if one exists.

Sometimes you can find a workaround that provides the functionality your customers want in your product. In other words, do what you can to help the customer.

10. Flooded with service tickets

This challenge is common during the holiday season—especially if you don’t have an employee working 24/7 or a reputable outsourcing provider like Unicom to provide round-the-clock responses. Many customers expect an answer within six hours. When backed-up like this, focus on responding instead of resolving.

You can also have customer service agents write a personal email telling customers, “We’re backlogged, but we’ll be taking care of you soon.” Also, give customers a hard deadline by which you’ll help them.

service tickets

11. You need to fire a customer

Some people are better suited for your product or service than others. But letting a customer go is never easy. So, if you need to do it, do it with grace and respect. Use this four-step approach:

  • Be positive and appreciative
  • Re-frame the situation as your fault
  • Make the customer whole
  • Apologize and offer an alternative

Going above and beyond can save this relationship.

12. Reply/resolution times are slow

Customers want answers now. Or better yet, five minutes ago. To start, review the ticket handling process you have in place. If you have tickets bouncing around from one department to another, find out why and eliminate the problem.

Strengthen your communication channels. Try omnichannel support, create a service level agreement, and set up your internal structure for team success. According to CX Today, 9 out of 10 customers want omnichannel services.

Customer Service Agent


Customer service challenges don’t go away. But if you don’t handle them correctly, they could cost you your existing and potential customers. Not providing outstanding customer service generates negative word-of-mouth advertising. No business can afford that.

Turn service challenges into relationship-building opportunities and improve customer satisfaction. Prepare your team to handle these challenges in advance.

Hiring an answering service can help you provide the excellent customer experiences you need for your clients.


This article was originally published on December 17, 2020. It has been updated to reflect current trends and new information.

Devin Bailey
Devin Bailey
I've been in the call center industry for over a decade. A big part of my job is educating businesses on the role telecommunications and outsourced task procedures can play for their business. Understanding their processes is critical to verify and implement the right services. When I am not in front of clients I manage the technological infrastructure in the call center.