12 Biggest Customer Service Challenges and How To Solve Them6 min read

Customer Service Challenges

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

Each day customers interact with your business. These interactions can cause challenges for your team.

How you handle them is crucial to your business’s success.

Handle them well, and customers return again and again, boosting profits.

Handle them poorly, and customers bolt to a competitor, slashing revenues.

Manage Customer Service Poorly and Watch Customers Leave

Many factors go into how difficult these challenges can be, including the total number of cases your team is managing.

They can be quite stressing for you and your support team.

The key to handling these challenges is knowing how to respond effectively and in a timely manner.

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

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

1. Not having an answer to a question

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 them 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 your teammate without verifying they are available to take their call.

If someone is expecting a live person but gets a voicemail, how do you think they will feel?

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 the issue.

Consider sharing the problem with a teammate. 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 to first calm them down so you can find out how you can help them. Then, do it.

One approach is to use the HEARD technique for helping customers—Hear. Empathize. Apologize. Resolve. Diagnose. This approach calms customers while providing you time to diagnose the problem and then address it.

5. Exceeding customers’ expectations

The trick to beating this challenge is to set reasonable customer expectations, then meet and exceed them. Exceeding expectations can generate repeat customers.

The key to doing that is to first 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. But telling customers 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 the first customer on hold for a long time.

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 exactly 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.

When everything’s over, you can then publish a post-mortem detailing the steps you took to help the situation and issue a sincere apology for any inconvenience customers may have experienced.

Not sure what to say? Check the internet for models you can download.

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. Plus, no customer likes to hear “no” from a customer service agent. So, don’t just turn the customer down. Explain to them why you can’t give them the discount. Use this opportunity as a chance to reinforce your offering’s value.

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

It’s hard to say no to good customers, as we noted above. 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 fairly common—especially if you don’t have an employee working 24/7 or a third-party provider like Unicom that can provide round the clock responses. Many customers, though, expect an answer within six hours. When you’re backed up like this, focus on responding instead of resolving. But don’t set up autoresponders to do it. 

You can also have agents write personal emails 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.  That gives you time to resolve the issue and your customers get timely responses.

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. Also, try omnichannel support, create a service level agreement, and set up your internal structure for team success.

Conclusion

Customer service challenges don’t go away. But if you don’t handle them correctly, they could cost you some customers. Disappointing them costs you customers and generates negative word-of-mouth advertising. No business can afford that.

Instead of disappointing customers, turn service challenges into relationship-building opportunities. Prepare your team to handle these challenges in advance. That keeps customers satisfied and retains their business, boosting customer loyalty and increasing profitability. 

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