Any person running a company or selling a product knows that closing a sale is hard. But what’s even harder? Providing excellent after-sales support and great customer service. Whether you provide customer service and support via email, phone, chat, or social media, one thing will never change - customers will encounter problems and they’re most likely going to want it fixed ASAP.
As somebody who has worked in the business process outsourcing industry, and as an admitting personnel at a private hospital, I have at least 4 years of experience solving customers’ problems and listen to their complaints. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I am immune to facing customer service challenges of my own! Here are three customer service nightmares I’ve faced in my own life - and advice for how companies can avoid them.
Internet Service Provider Nightmare
The backstory: When my previous internet service provider changed important details on my subscription and chose not to notify me about it, I let it pass. But when the company started to provide me with bad - think early 90's dial-up speeds - connection on a regular basis and with no connection for a whole week? The company put me at risk of losing my job. And that’s when I had to draw the line.
The customer service problems: Oh, where do I start? From having to constantly request to speak to a manager just to get any kind of good result, to agents forgetting to press the mute button or put me on hold while they mock me to their fellow agents. But one of the worst experiences was probably when an agent told me that the reason for my bad internet connection was due to an expansion project that the company had taken on. And when I asked when it would be done, all I got was: “I don’t really know.” A simple yet very important question, and yet no agent nor manager knew the answer? What company takes on an expansion project and does not set a deadline? It’s no wonder only 62% of customers feel contented with their internet service providers
How companies can avoid it: Keep clear lines of communication between most, if not all of the departments in your company. While it may be true that various departments take on different and very specific roles, that should never be an excuse for any department to be so detached from each other. In this case, the head of the engineering department could have made a bit of an effort to relay to the head of customer service about when the expansion project would be done. That way, an answer would be available to customers when they ask for it. Most customers don’t want to admit it, but hearing the awful truth is better than being left in the dark.
Airline Carrier Mess
The backstory: My mom travels every now and then for work. During one of her trips on her way back home from a conference, much to her surprise, one of the straps on her duffel bag was ripped when she picked it up from the baggage carousel.
The customer service problem: When my mom went to the airline carrier’s office inside the airport, she was then met by an unfriendly and uninspired representative who told her that she was going to have to wait a long time (at least 30 minutes) for her request to be processed. It’s no wonder a lot of travelers dread having to deal with airline customer service. My mom replied that she was in no hurry and was willing to wait. The representative then proceeded on to offer my mom $10 just so she could just go home and be done with the complaint. My mom refused to accept it. Fast forward to two weeks later, and the airline company reimbursed my mom with a better amount.
How companies can avoid it: Always remind your representatives to smile no matter the situation. A lot easier said than done, yes. But not impossible. And, if possible, identify a better process, instead of belittling your customers by offering them a measly amount for the damage. Surely it couldn’t hurt to go above and beyond what your customers expect from you, right?
Resort No No
The backstory: Ever since I started working for Peak Support, I’ve made it my goal to treat my family to an overnight stay at a nice resort on the weekend of my birthday. This resort that I’m about to talk about has well-trained staff who are courteous and helpful. However, as friendly as the staff may be, the booking process needs a whole lot of improvement.
The customer service problems: When I called to ask for the availability of a specific room, I was told that one was available. The reservations officer then put me on hold to process my booking. Not more than three minutes after being put on hold, the reservations officer got back to me and told me the room is no longer available. I asked how that was even possible when we were already in the process of booking it and finalizing the payment method. As kindly as he might have said it, “the system didn’t refresh automatically” is just not a good enough excuse for me. And this isn’t just some one or two star establishment, it’s a five-star resort.
How companies can avoid it: Ideally, you should have a system that updates automatically - or takes a room off the market when someone is in the process of booking it. But if that’s not possible, you can still fix the problem with new processes and good training. Simply put: require your employees to refresh the page before telling someone a room is available. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than the realization that their weekend getaway might not happen all because a staff member failed to do something so simple yet so important in the booking process.
Gone are the days where consumers are just willing to settle for whatever is given to them. For a lot of companies, providing mediocre customer service is a cost-cutting measure. Others simply either don’t care enough or they’re getting too comfortable at the top. Whatever the case may be, your customers - other than your employees of course - are the biggest factors in your company’s success. Treat them well, and they will spread the good word. Never ever forget that the most effective and cost-efficient marketing strategy any company can have is a customer’s honest review and recommendation.
Illustration by Rhea Avanceña