How to fix poor customer service

Nov 14, 2021
min read
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What happens when you discover your company has poor customer service? Gulp. It can feel like a kick in the stomach.

But remember, problems are an opportunity to fix an issue and, more importantly, show your customers that you’re the kind of company they want to keep doing business with.

So how do you fix poor customer service? I’ve laid out five things you can do to help improve your customer service:

  1. You can use a customer satisfaction survey to better understand the extent of your customer service problems and to figure out what exactly needs to be addressed.
  2. Hire the right people for the job.
  3. Provide training that will help your customer service team members succeed.
  4. Implement an omnichannel platform to help reduce the number of errors due to missed inquiries and improve response time across all customer service channels.
  5. Automate the workflow to handle the most common and simplest customer requests, so your team can focus on more difficult customer service issues.

Use customer satisfaction surveys

If, for whatever reason, you think that poor customer service might be plaguing your business, consider starting with a customer satisfaction survey to learn about the extent of your customer service problem. This article gives you best practices to help you make the best of your customer satisfaction survey.

If you think you have a “trouble employee,” you can send surveys to their customers after each interaction. I would also send surveys for interactions that take place with other employees. In doing that, you can figure out if the problems are employee-specific or if it’s a process problem that is afflicting your entire team. And every project, sale, or engagement should include a follow-up request for feedback.

Hire the right people

Customer service can be a tough job, so you need to hire the right people. If you have the time and resources, you can administer a personality test. Most personality tests only take about 30 minutes to complete and review the results yourself or have them interpreted by a certified practitioner. These tests can help answer questions you have about candidates, like:

  • Are they a self-starter?
  • Do they take criticism well and seek to improve themselves?
  • How do they respond to conflict?

Other questions you can ask customer service candidates include:

  • What experience do you have in customer service?
  • Tell me about a time in customer service where you received a complaint and you solved it and saved the customer.
  • How do you deal with conflict with co-workers or supervisors?
  • What would you say to a customer who’s complaining about something you previously did for them?

Provide customer service training

As an employer, you should provide training opportunities for your team. They count on you to give them what they need to be successful. And your customers are counting on your customer service team to help them solve their problems.

The patience many of us felt at the beginning of the pandemic is now wearing thin. 56 percent of US consumers “believe that companies should have figured out how to handle pandemic-related disruption by now.” Whether that belief is justified in a time of supply-chain and hiring challenges is debatable. What’s not up for debate is that your customer service representatives (CSRs) need the skills to listen to your customers, empathize with them, and deliver the best possible service to maintain their loyalty.

Training about stress management matters, too. I’ve mentioned before that your team needs to keep a consistent tone throughout their messages. Oftentimes it is easy for CSRs to get defensive or to take on the tone of the customer. Especially when they’re busy and dealing with an upset customer. It’s more important than ever to train your employees on how to communicate without getting pulled into customers’ moods.

Implement an omnichannel inbox

Shopping during the pandemic opened the door for more omnichannel shopping experiences as people shopped on their desktops, on their phones, and through ads and posts on social media.

Now, omnichannel shopping and customer service contacts are here to stay, even when the spread of the pandemic slows, and people return to in-person shopping. In fact, for many shoppers, the idea of “channels” isn’t even on their radar. Forrester forecasts that by the end of 2022, some “80% of consumers will see the world as all digital, with no divide.”

That means one thing you can do to tackle poor customer support is to implement an omnichannel inbox. If you aren’t connecting with your customers everywhere they want to connect with you, you’re probably losing sales and you’re not offering the best customer service possible.

The biggest advantage of using an inbox like this is that you can answer messages from all different channels in one view. So, you don't need to click from tab to tab to tab. This saves you time, eliminates the possibility of missing messages, and makes collaborating with co-workers much easier. By doing this, you’ll be putting your customers front and center.

Automate your workflow

Another way to tackle poor customer support is to automate your workflow. Using email templates, chatbots, auto-replies, and rules will improve the consistency and flow of your teams’ communication with customers across all your channels.

For example, you can set up automated responses to customer emails that go out immediately to let them know you’ve received their question and are working on a response. If you also set up email templates for common answers to customer questions, your team can respond faster and with better accuracy, using the voice of your brand, for a better customer experience.

With chatbots, you can offer immediate support to people who have simple questions about refunds, exchanges, sizing charts, or order status updates. The customer support that can be provided by chatbots mimics a real conversation and can answer questions 24/7. It can also help out when your live customer chat team is offline.

There are some really funny auto-responses in this article that may or may not fit the vibe of your company. But you get the idea, right? You need to let your customers know if you won’t be getting back to them right away.

Within your automated workflows, you can also create rules that forward messages to the proper team member or mark certain messages as urgent.

Review your customer support improvements

As you implement program improvements, be sure to track your customer service KPIs to see the impact of your changes. Customer satisfaction score, the average time to first response, and average resolution time are three big KPIs to watch in this area.

I guarantee you’re not the only manager whose customer service team is facing challenges. Consumers now reach out from every channel, and this means your team needs the tools and training to respond no matter where questions come from. As you implement the ideas listed above, you should begin to see improvements in your customer service.

Further reading

Want more inspiration for improving your organization’s customer service? We've got you covered:

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