Customer Service Fails … and Fixes

I’ve been doing customer service for a long time. Here is a list of the most frequent fails I see, and the fixes to them.

1-You send emails with a hard coded valediction that is really obvious because it isn’t the same font, color as the rest of your email. So you don’t care enough about the customer to either type “Thanks, Brian” or to at least make your hard coded template look like you did.

Or you leave out the valediction entirely and think you email signature serves this function. That is like hanging up the phone without saying “good bye”.

The fix: Always hand type your valediction which encourages you to mix it up, get creative, make it relevant.

2-You get an email with several questions and only answer one or two.

The fix: Always copy the customer’s questions into your reply and answer each one directly and in turn. This forces you to never miss a question.

Always copy customer’s questions into your reply or answer inline.

3-You provide an answer to a question the customer never asked.

The fix: See previous. Also, read the customers email 3x. 1st to get the gist. 2nd to understand better. 3rd to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Always read customer emails 3x.

4-You answer the customers question but only after a lot of stuff that nobody really cares about, at the bottom of the email. The customer gets bored and stops reading before they get to the answer.

The fix: put the answer at the top of the email. Your reply isn’t a porno – nobody is going to sit through your email to get to the “money shot”.

5-You write so much the answer gets lost in the noise.

The fix: Learn to use two words – yes and no. Try to put them at the beginning of the sentence. Save your qualification for after. E.g. Yes, you can move your license. Let me show you how …

Understand that less is more. Write emails like Earnest Hemingway wrote books. You may not win a Pulitzer but your customers will love you for it.

6-You don’t say sorry when you should.

The fix: If the company screws up, you screw up, if the customer even thinks you screwed up. Say sorry. It doesn’t cost anything.

7-Your boss tells you to say sorry. So now you say sorry for everything, even when you shouldn’t.

The fix: Stop thinking like a robot. Understand context. If someone is asking you a question. Don’t get on your knees begging for forgiveness. It makes your apology look rote and formulaic.

8-You don’t say “Thank you” enough, or at all.

The fix: Anytime the customer is working with us, it is probably time they’d rather be spending doing something else. So thank them early and often. Thank them for just sending you an email. Unlike “sorry”, “thanks” never go out of style.

9-You send templates in a rote, robotic way that enables the company to replace you with an old WANG computer rigged up to the internet.

The fix: Always personalize. Templates are for repetitive sections like data, never conversational.

10-Your attempts to personalize, read like a robot programmed with COBOL. “Hello [yourname], how is the weather in [yourcity]. I hear that [yourcountry] has a national debt of [x$]”.

The fix: Spend 5 minutes to google your customer, his/her company, find them on LinkedIn. You will find amazing and interesting facts that you can use to create killer engagement with your “target”, and if you aren’t careful, you might even learn something interesting!

11-You reply too slowly.

The fix: Get the lead out, y’all. Reply in 30 seconds. Yes, 30 seconds. What is so hard. “Hi Fred, thx for the email. Just letting you know I got it and will be working on it now. Stay tuned for a reply”. Won’t people get annoyed? I’ve never seen anyone get annoyed by customer service that is too good, and I’ve tried. I used to try and get replies out in 20 seconds, or even 10. I got replies from people who were just amazed.

Don’t think the customer knows you are working hard on an issue. He/she doesn’t have ESP. If they don’t hear back, they will assume you aren’t helping them. Buy some good will with a quick acknowledgement and it will buy you a ton of time.

12-You don’t constantly communicate and set expectations.

The fix: Good customer service is about constant communication. No new is bad news. Communicate even if you don’t have anything to communicate about. If the customer has to ask for an update, your answer is too later.

13-You don’t deliver.

The fix: If you say you are going to do something. That is the easy part. Now you gotta do it. Don’t say you’ll have a reply by the end of the day and don’t send it. The customer might not have cared, until you made the commitment. Now he/she will hold you to it.

Great customer communications is about constant communication, setting expectations, and delivering.

14-You use passive weak words like “I’ll try my best”.

The fix: The customer doesn’t want “your best”. They want their problem solved. Stop setting yourself up for failure, and commit to a positive outcome.

15-You use passive aggressive phrases like “OK” when you should say “Yes”, or “My pleasure”.

The fix: Stop acting like you are doing the customer a favor by doing your job. Use forward leaning actionable phrases like “Yes”, “I’m on it” “Consider it done” etc.

16-You never follow up.

The fix: Cook off each email for 3 days. Then follow up asking if everything is OK, the issue was resolved, they have any more questions. You will startle and amaze, because nobody does this.

17-You don’t care.

The fix: Ultimately customer service is about empathy. If you truly care for the customer, all of these things will be easy. If you don’t they will all seem impossible.

July 4, 2018