Ecommerce Customer Service Bad Practices: 5 Examples

Posted by Victoria Elizabeth 28 Aug 13

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on customer service best practices, entitled Customer Service Lessons from America. Although it’s essential to know these principles, it’s equally important to know what the implications of bad customer service can be for your company.

Hold on while I put you on Call Ignore CartoonToday I’'d like to take a look at what ecommerce companies have gotten wrong in terms of customer service and what we can gain from their mistakes. While it's important to point out each of these mistakes, I'll also refrain from naming names in this post. 

Sometimes bad customer service isn’t readily apparent, since a majority of unhappy customers would rather tell their family and friends about it than make an actual complaint. According to Helpscout, a company typically hears from only 4 per cent of dissatisfied customers, while 86 per cent of customers will stop doing business with a company after one bad experience. 

Some, however, will go on a full-scale social media rampage. These people are actually dangerous to your business as they will follow through on their strong opinions and share them as widely as they can. Although this population of evangelist-antis may be small, they can still do a lot of damage. And even if it's not an overt attack, someone can damage your reputation simply by tweeting something negative in passing.

So if you don't want to be lumped in with the large percentage of companies that offer terrible customer service, don't do the following:

1) Negative tone of voice 

The nature of online shopping removes the immediacy of interacting with a customer service representative in front of you. Ecommerce companies must make do with the expressionless medium of phone calls, the voiceless nature of emails and the impulsiveness of live chat. These all require that someone be capable of writing clearly, in an appropriate tone, and with certain vocabulary.

2) Lack of education on products and services offered

A solid educational onboarding experience for every customer service rep is not only a good idea, it's an investment for your company to thrive in today's competitive digital atmosphere. Make sure that every customer service rep has good working knowledge of products and services, as well as policies on returns, shipping, etc. This will eliminate any disparate information going out and make sure that your customers are finding the answers they need. It is also a good idea to periodically check or incentivise employees to learn more about your company, so that they can more easily relay this information to your customers.

3) Long response time

This can be a bit tricky if you are a multichannel company, as it may be difficult to have a customer service department keep track of email complaints, live chat requests, phone calls and any other medium without the appropriate tools to guide them. It's essential to have enough employees to deal with requests coming in, and set a goal for how long it should take for someone to respond to email complaints. Also, keep in mind that most phone call complaints will be growing impatient the longer you keep them on hold, so if they can't get to a rep immediately, at least give them an estimated time or position in the queue so that they have a better idea of the time they are investing.

4) Lack of conflict training

Let’s face it, it's easy to be unnecessarily rude to a customer service agent because of something out of their control. A part of the job of a good customer service agent is to find a way to pacify and defuse the situation. The amazing thing is, it's easy to bring the heat down simply by the tone and words that an agent uses. They should be human and personal without being reactionary, which can be taught. Conflict training can prepare your customer service reps for just about anything, and give them the tools to deal with each situation accordingly. At the end of the day, the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one is of huge value to your company.

5) No CRM software

Customer Relationship Management software lets you control and manage relationships with your current customers so that when conflicts arise, they can be reached more easily and customer service reps can jump in to help. This isn’t something customers will be aware of, but not having the appropriate systems in place to manage your customer relationships will result in longer response time, loss of engagement opportunities and generally bad customer service. There are a number of different programs you can implement, so make sure to do your research to find one that fits your company’s needs and customer base-size.

So make sure you avoid the bad practices outlined above if you want to provide excellent customer service. If you have anything to add to the list, or a personal story of your own where you encountered bad customer service, please let us know in the comments below.



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