Customer service is key to the survival and growth of any business. Of course paying attention to the bottom line and product quality are also important, but the best product will languish in the marketplace, and the bottom line will suffer, if they aren’t supported by adequate customer service.

Here are five customer service mistakes to avoid.

Penny Foolish

When cost-cutting measures drive customers away, you’re losing more than you might gain. Cutting staff is a prime example. If your customer can’t find the help she needs to buy something, you’ve lost that sale and probably that customer forever. When you try to save money by squeezing wages and benefits, you’ll lose good staff and have trouble hiring qualified replacements. Skimping on the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs well and provide great customer service is bound to be a net loss.

Not Being Even-Handed

It’s important to treat all customers the same, whether they’re new to your business or valued long-time buyers. Yes, there’s the 80/20 “rule” (which states that most businesses receive 80% of their revenues from 20% of their customers), but that’s just a description of most company’s sales, not a rule to live by. You need a steady stream of new customers to maintain that 20% and to broaden the base. If you play favorites, the word will get around. By the same token, if new customers rave about you online, they’ll create a stream of new inquiries or walk-ins.

Nobody’s Home

Communication is one of the most basic of all customer service functions. Literally no one in the world likes being caught in a phone queue, and if your website doesn’t make it easy to get answers to questions – especially the questions that aren’t covered on your FAQ page – then customers will look for someone else to answer them.

In addition to having the technology that makes it possible to respond to customers and having personnel standing by to do it, either electronically or in person, the communication message is key. Even an angry customer deserves a prompt, polite response to a call or email. It’s crucial that your staff understand how to communicate with dissatisfied customers to prevent bad situations from getting worse.

Likewise, the employee’s personal manner and even choice of words can make or break a relationship with a new prospect or satisfied customer. Knowing how to answer the phone or talk to a customer in person; how to provide information; and how present a price or proposal shouldn’t be left to the employee’s sole judgment…which brings up to:

Lack of Training

Many organizations think that a few days of training by anyone who happens to be available is all that’s necessary. That scattershot method results in inconsistent messaging and poor compliance with your customer service policies. (You do have those policies written out, right?) A formal training program in customer service will ensure that your staff have the skills to serve customers properly. Retrain periodically to refresh memories, bolster compliance, and introduce new policies and procedures.

Promises, Promises

Never promise what you can’t deliver, and if you do promise, deliver no matter what. You want customers to feel that people in your organization go above and beyond to satisfy their needs. One way to help create that perception is to add a cushion: if you’re pretty sure you can deliver by Tuesday, tell the customer to expect it Wednesday. When you deliver on Tuesday, you’ll shine in that customer’s eyes.

Good customer service takes time, effort and the proper tools, but the benefits are substantial and your good reputation will help bring in a steady stream of new and returning customers. If you’re looking for ways to improve your customer service through digital and VOIP telephone solutions, efficient credit card payment systems or data networks to make product and service information readily available to your staff, contact MAX Communications today.