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Easy-to-miss customer success blunders that can cost you customers

In this guest blog, Niraj Rout, Founder at Hiver, shares some small, but costly blunders that companies make in managing customer success.


 

If you have ever dealt with customers before, you have inevitably faced a situation which made you wonder: where did this relationship go wrong?

These experiences can be harsh and even shatter your work confidence, but don’t worry, the remedy is not as hard as you might think.

First, put yourself in the customer’s shoes — replay the entire conversation from their perspective and see if you notice something you missed before. This practice is fundamental in avoiding easy-to-miss customer success blunders and any more customer churn.

See the following statistics:

  • 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor after a poor customer experience.
  • 95% of the people in a new Zendesk survey said they share bad customer experiences with others. Only 87% share their good experiences.
  • 40% of customers said they avoid companies for two or more years after a bad experience.

Your loss is obviously your competitors’ gain.

 

Now, let’s look at some of these easy-to-miss customer success blunders, and ways to prevent them.

 

  1. Misspelling/mispronouncing customer’s name

Nobody likes being called the wrong name, especially a customer who has already provided their correct personal details. Not only is this tiny detail insulting, but it will be a clear indication of how little you care about the details for your customer.

Yes, there will be instances where you will have to deal with customers who have difficult names or names of foreign origin; but that is no excuse to mess up. If you strive for customer success, you need to start by paying attention to the smallest of details.

In the case of written communication – email, social network, or SMS – a little extra attention will go a long way in addressing the problem. You could try using an accuracy checklist – a technique used by journalists to reduce errors, or just ask somebody to proofread before sending it to the customer. Spelling errors, in general, are very bad for business, as studies show that a single spelling error can cut a company’s online sales in half.

In the case of spoken communication, these websites will help you pronounce names correctly. Otherwise, you could always ask the customer how to pronounce it correctly. At my startup, Hiver, we follow a practice of writing down the phonetics of difficult customer names as nicknames, so that we don’t mispronounce it, for example – Giuliano will be Joo-lee-ah-no. The database will bear Joo-lee-ah-no as a nickname for Giuliano.

 

  1. Declining to help with no context

Do this and kiss your customer goodbye! Customers expect their customer success manager to be a strategic partner that unlocks value from their product, and if you don’t help when a customer needs it, the whole purpose of having a customer success team is lost.

You might have good reasons — company policy, terms and conditions, manufacturer’s responsibility — for being unable to support them, but if you simply decline to help without any context it reflects poorly on your brand.

Remember, the first rule of customer success is: nothing is more important than your customer. The second rule of customer success is: NOTHING is more important than your customer!

Dissatisfied customers will talk to a lot more people than when they are satisfied! Always try to solve the problem. If you can’t, take the time to explain clearly why you can’t/won’t do it, and offer suggestions, or alternatives.

Check this out to learn more on how say no to customers carefully.

 

  1. Shifting the blame

“When you blame others, you give up your power to change. – Robert Anthony”

If a customer has made a complaint regarding a product or service failure, shifting the blame back to the customer is one of the worst things you could do.

Never use phrases such as ‘you should have….’, even if the customer was at fault. You can’t expect all customers to be fast learners; some may have forgotten how to use your product, or for all you know – they were just having a bad day.

Remember that blaming them will only make things worse – accept it and take it upon yourself to address the situation. Try to help them as much as you can; if you can’t then get somebody who can ASAP. And finally, don’t forget to follow-up – make sure that the problem is resolved and that the customer is continuously finding value in your product.

 

  1. Broadcasting, rather than engaging

According to 1st Financial Training services, 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, and 91% of those who do will never come back. Customers, both new and old, are bound to face problems. If you don’t engage with them regularly, you will never get to know that they were unhappy. And before you know it, they would have switched to your competitor.

How do you stop this? Regularly engage with your customers, see if they need any help or are unhappy with your product/service. A lot of companies seem to focus more on automation, FAQ pages, product handbooks, and complicated support pages. They think they are saving time and money. But in reality, they make customers feel frustrated, because most of the time they sound as if they were written for a machine.

Combined with a human touch, these resources can be used far more effectively. FAQ pages can be one of the most useful parts of any website, read this to know more about FAQ best practices and examples.

Regular and personal engagement helps you understand the issues they have been facing, instead of just blindly hoping that your support pages/FAQs will answer their problem/query. You can also scout your online customer communities to find out struggling customers.

 

  1. You have a one-channel customer success strategy

Consider this situation – an unhappy customer in your portfolio tweets to your company account about an issue they are having. Marketing or support forward the issue and you decide to schedule a call. In that time, the customer has already emailed and called customer support.

Ignoring where your customer communicates is an easy way to rest assured that this particular customer will switch to your competitor at the first chance he gets.

You must bring customer success to where your customers communicate.

With so many popular communication channels at their disposal, you should be prepared to handle situations quickly. And customers no longer have the patience for long or difficult interactions – IVR menus, or queues. It is very important that you empower your frontline teams to solve problems quickly, and possibly at the first touch point.

Your aim should be to always provide value as quickly as possible. And never push a particular channel on your customers, because you don’t know whether it suits them or not.

 

  1. Questioning a customer’s perception of your product

This is a serious offense – it is almost like you are insulting the customer’s intelligence. You may think you are helping, but you definitely are not.

As a CSM, you are a partner, not a boss. Questioning customers intentions and offering them unsolicited advice can easily make them annoyed or confused. And it could also lead to switching.

For example – If a customer wants something to be done in a particular way, which might not seem logical or productive to you, learn about what they actually want to do and find a way to guide them to the right path. Do not offer general advice or warnings. The more involved and detailed your guidance, the more your customers will respond.

 

  1. Not acting on customer feedback

Customer feedback is a great way to understand where your business lacks, and how it can be improved; or where you are strong, and how to sustain it. But, if you don’t take it seriously, most customers will take it as an insult, because they took their time and effort to convey that to you.

For example, suppose you run an Android messaging app which is rated above 4 stars on Google Play. Lately, you have noticed that more and more of your users have been demanding for a group chat feature. Even if the product roadmap is already set on a bigger idea, such as a video call feature, the customer will still want group chats and find a product that solves that problem.

You must guide and embed customer success into the product/dev strategy so that you can continuously incorporate feedback — even if not immediately.
At the end of the day, it is all about paying that little-bit more attention and going that extra mile for your customers. This is what it takes to get a customer for life.

 

About the author:

Niraj_HeadshotNiraj is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a fusion music aficionado, loves to play the guitar when he can.

Kevin Garcia

Kevin is the Marketing Manager @Totango focused on digital, brand, and product marketing. He helps companies simplify their customer success operations and deliver real value to customers. Prior to Totango, Kevin was a PMM @GoodHire, the fastest growing employment screening solution in the US.

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