Studies on the state of contact centers today show poor customer service costs businesses more than $75 billion every year.
Problems like extended wait times, unprepared or uninformed agents, and even tech issues like a downed or slow website can all interfere with customer satisfaction — not to mention increase employee frustration and make it difficult to empathize with clients.
Whether you’re getting ready to start your own company, or if you’ve noticed a recent rise in customer complaints, read on to learn solutions to the most common customer service problems.
The Customer Service Problems we’ll cover:
- Customer Service Can’t Provide an Immediate Answer
- Unable to Locate Customer History
- Angry Customers
- Long Customer Support Wait Times
- Website or Software Downtime
- You’re Not Sure Where Your Team is Going Wrong
- Poorly Trained Customer Service Representatives
- The Customer Can’t Communicate On Their Preferred Channel
- Customer Service Doesn’t Follow Up
- Support Agents Aren’t Reachable Enough
- You Aren’t Taking Customer Feedback
Biggest Customer Service Challenges + Effective Solutions
The top customer service complaints and problems include:
- A lack of immediate support and extended response times
- Representatives who are unaware of a customer’s history
- Customers who become angry with agents
- Website/software downtime
- Uncertainty about key KPIs
- An overall lack of customer feedback
- Poor customer service rep training
- A lack of multiple communication channels
- Telling the same problem to multiple agents
- A lack of follow-up
- Difficulty reaching customer service agents
- The Problem: Customer Service Doesn’t Follow Up
Below, we’ll tell you how the right software, training, and features can create a better customer experience and increase customer success. These tips will also ensure that your team members can work efficiently and without excess stress brought on by frustrated customers across multiple touchpoints.
Problem 1: Customer Service Can’t Provide an Immediate Answer
Over 80% of consumers say they expect an immediate response to customer service inquiries.
Even if your support team isn’t able to respond to their message in full, customers still want some notification that their message has been received. If you’re able to provide a rough timeline of when you’ll be able to get back to them, even better.
Especially in today’s world of instant gratification and impulse buying, failure to respond
promptly will cost you revenue and do serious damage to your company’s reputation.
The Solution: Automatic Responses and Wikis
Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the easiest way to provide instant answers to customers.
By recognizing certain “trigger” keywords, like “refund” or “book appointment,” chatbots can automatically send out canned responses that allow customers to get the solutions they need without having to speak to a representative.
Bots can also send out automatic appointment confirmation via SMS messaging, reminders/follow-ups, and confirm that support requests have been received. Customers with more specific problems can have snippers of relevant information from support scripts and guides sent to them when keywords are recognized, as well.
Additionally, having wikis and an online knowledge base make it easy for both customers and representatives to quickly search for relevant assistance with an issue when providing a more human touch.
Problem 2: Unable to Locate Customer History
When a customer contacts support with questions about a recent order or for advice on which products/services to buy, they expect you to have their information at the ready.
If agents are opening multiple business applications and searching for information while already on a phone call, the customer experience plummets. Your employees will appear unprepared, they’ll be more likely to need to schedule callbacks, and the customer resolution time will increase.
Instead, you need a tool that automatically offers you all essential customer information the moment you need it.
The Solution: CRM Software Integrations
If your contact center software doesn’t have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) metrics built into it, then be certain it integrates with popular third-party CRM software like Salesforce, Infusionsoft, and Zoho.
When integrated with your business phone, this software automatically pulls up existing customer information when you receive an incoming call, and allows you to load customer history before making one.
In addition to getting information about order history, preferred products, and past customer support issues, you’ll also be able to add your own notes to their file. Once the call is finished, these notes and any other updates you make to the customer profile are automatically saved and updated in your customer relationship management tool.
Top customer relationship management platform features and functionality include:
- Searchable database of client/lead contact information
- Lead management and interaction history
- Workflow automation
- Sales forecasting
- Integration with additional business communication solutions
- Customer communication personalization
- 360-degree customer journey view
Problem 3: Angry Customers
Frustrated, confused customers are an unfortunate almost daily occurrence for customer service workers — but when that anger gets out of hand, your team members need to know what to do.
Whether the customer is an aggressive bully, a constant complainer, impatient, or just indecisive, you need solutions to help everyone keep their cool and ensure the interaction remains customer-centric.
The Solution: Employee Training and Recognition
Just like you train employees on how to use customer management software, you’ll also need to train them regarding how to respond to difficult customers.
The golden rule here is to be patient, let the customer speak, and ask questions to ensure you’ve understood their problem correctly. That way, even if you can’t give them the solution they’re looking for, you can at least make them feel heard.
Consider offering angry customers threatening to terminate their contracts or cancel some sort of a discount or free upgrade if it will help to keep the account.
There should also be a clear HR policy in place for how employees should report and respond to especially egregious conversations with customers, and what constitutes the firing of a client.
The reality, of course, is that no matter how well you train your team members, completely eliminating unsatisfied, angry customers is impossible.
This is where employee recognition comes in — especially since over 66% of workers say they’d leave a job if they didn’t feel appreciated by management.
Some employee workflow and project management software has employee recognition features built into it. These can include points towards rewards, peer-to-peer recognition features, and gamification to increase employee satisfaction and engagement.
Problem 4: Long Customer Support Wait Times
Recent studies have shown that the average customer support request is a whopping 12 hours.
While the simple solution is “hire more agents,” for small businesses and entrepreneurs especially, this isn’t an option.
If you can’t hire new representatives, the solution lies in empowering your customers to help themselves, and to give them more options when it comes to follow-ups to support requests.
Solution: IVR For Better Customer Self-Service and Scheduled Callbacks
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) guides customers through a call menu option that provides options for self-service and directs customer calls to the most qualified agent or department to assist them.
If you’ve ever picked up the phone and heard a recording saying, “Press 1 for billing, 2 to place an order, or 3 to speak to a representative,” then you’ve benefited from IVR.
Clients can pay bills, use the menu to access pre-recorded customer support, check order status, and much more through multi-level IVR. Plus, even if they do need to request a callback, the fact that they’ve been directed to leave a message for the correct department cuts down on call resolution times.
If the issue can’t be solved through self-service alone, use call center solutions with a call scheduling feature or estimated wait times.
This lets customers decide if they want to stay on the line and wait for help, or schedule a future call at the time that’s convenient for them.
Problem 5: Website or Software Downtime
When Amazon’s website went down for just 40 minutes in 2013, the company lost an estimated $4.8 million in revenue.
Even if you don’t stand to lose quite that much, you still want to ensure that your website uptime is as high as possible — at least 99.9%.
An extended outage can have serious financial consequences and cause your customer service to take a hit. This is doubly true if you provide customer support via website chat, or if you run any type of an eCommerce shop within your business.
Solution: Have an SLA Agreement In Place and Study Your Customer Support Policy
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between your company and the software providers you work with that outlines your expectations, guarantees a set uptime, and clearly outlines what the provider must do if those expectations are not met.
It also outlines your pricing structure, the length of your contract, and prioritizes specific issues.
Additionally, be sure you also evaluate a software provider’s support policy before making a final decision.
How many different support channels are available? What is their average resolution time? Is support available 24/7, or only at certain times?
Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time will save you serious headaches later.
Problem 6: You’re Not Sure Where Your Team is Going Wrong
Often, it’s the customer service challenges you don’t even know exist that get you into the most trouble.
You might be spending a huge portion of your company’s time and resources attempting to fix what you think is the problem, only to discover that all of those changes you’ve made haven’t improved anything.
That’s likely because you don’t know the true cause of customer dissatisfaction — and if you want things to get better, you have to find it.
The Solution: Advanced Business Intelligence Analytics and Reporting
If you’ve been experiencing a dip in your overall customer satisfaction recently, team communication software with advanced reporting and analytics can help.
Essential KPIs like the average call abandonment rate, call duration, and how long it takes for a representative to answer the phone can all pinpoint the issues.
Before you invest in a call center platform, study up on the reporting templates it provides. These reports should also be customizable and able to be sorted by date range, department, and individual agent.
Additionally, call recordings and transcripts make monitoring keywords easy — so you can quickly search terms like “order status” or “billing” to see which problems are the most common.
Top metrics to study include:
- Number of calls transferred
- Overall agent productivity
- Cost per contact
- Customer retention rate
- Customer satisfaction rating
- Popular communication channels
- Number of blocked or missed calls
- Call occupancy rate
Problem 7: Poorly Trained Customer Service Representatives
It’s incredibly frustrating for customers to end up on the phone with a support agent that they feel hasn’t been sufficiently trained to help them or lacks even basic knowledge about a product or service.
Poor training also means that the stronger employees end up managing the bulk of the workload, increasing employee dissatisfaction and extending ticket resolution times.
Especially if you have a primarily remote team, (thanks to COVID, this is now especially common) it can be challenging to get everyone on the same page when it comes to employee training.
Whether you’re training customer service teams on new software or going over a new product, you need to be able to replicate the in-person training experience anywhere.
The Solution: Interactive Webinars
The right webinar software allows remote and in-office teams to connect face-to-face over video and go over training manuals, expectations, customer service scenarios, and even HR guidelines together.
Today’s web meeting platforms even let hosts and panelists upload worksheets and documents ahead of time, let participants ask questions, and allow for polling. Screensharing and remote screen control give managers the chance to show agents exactly how to work customer service and communication software.
Additional webinar features to look for include:
- Breakout rooms
- Virtual handraising
- Do Not Disturb
- Live chat messaging
- Private one-on-one chats
- Pre-recorded and live virtual conferences
- Waiting room and remove a participant
Problem 8: Customer Can’t Communicate On Their Preferred Channel
9 out of 10 consumers say they now expect companies to provide good customer service on more than one communication channel.
While you’d like to be more available to your customers, you’re concerned about how you can keep up with social media, video, chat messaging, and website support all at once.
Omnichannel communication is the solution.
The Solution: Omnichannel Business Communication Software
Omnichannel communication tools give customers the chance to choose whether they’d like to connect on social media, by phone, via email or SMS, or even through a video call.
It’s much easier to resolve a customer dispute when the client at least is able to choose how they want to speak with a representative.
You can also use the software to determine which channel your customers reach out to you on the most often. This means you can focus your marketing and sales efforts on the channels that your customers are the most likely to use.
Additionally, omnichannel communication provides real-time customer history and data syncing across channels. This prevents customers from having to repeat the same problem over and over again every time they speak to a new agent unfamiliar with their issue.
It also gives clients and agents the chance to switch between multiple modes of communication over the course of the ticket’s lifetime.
Problem 9: Customer Service Doesn’t Follow Up
One of the biggest issues with customer service?
Assuming the interaction is over once the call has ended.
It’s important that you follow up with your clients after the issue has been resolved, both to collect valuable feedback and to ensure that all their questions have been answered. If a ticket has been in the system for a long time without resolution, you should follow up with the customer to make sure they’ve gotten the help they need.
You don’t want them to be left hanging, and you need to ensure they remember any appointments they have coming up.
The Solution: Call Scheduling and Reminder Notifications
In addition to allowing clients to select the opportune time for an agent to return their call, make sure your VoIP phone system features sends out SMS, email, or phone call reminders following up with customers.
This allows customers to reschedule, cancel, and confirm appointments, and ensures that they’ll actually remember to be available for the call.
You can even set up push notifications for agents to remind them to reach back out to and follow up with clients regarding appointments, calls, or within a set period of time.
Problem 10: Support Agents Aren’t Reachable Enough
No customer wants to play phone tag with support.
Calling several phone numbers, leaving lots of voice messages, or simply not being able to reach the intended agent is a huge source of frustration.
The Solution: Remote Call Forwarding
Thanks to the rise in remote work software, employees can now work just as well as they could at the office from anywhere in the world.
However, just because they have a high amount of flexibility when it comes to location doesn’t mean they have to be unreachable.
Choosing a business phone system with advanced call forwarding and routing options means that a customer’s phone call can be forwarded to an employee’s office phone, personal cell phone, home phone, and voicemail box — all by dialing just one number.
If on representative isn’t available, you can set up a predetermined call path to direct the client’s call to other support agents or departments.
This means agents can take calls from multiple phones anywhere they’d like — even while on the road.
Problem 11: You Aren’t Taking Customer Feedback
Perhaps the biggest customer service mistake you can make is not given your customers the chance to voice their opinions.
WIthout surveys, you’re missing invaluable insights from the people who are the most likely to buy your product/service.
The Solution: Automatic Customer Surveys
There’s no better place to access customer feedback — and get honest opinions — than customer surveys. If you’re not handing them out, chances are your support will never improve.
Common survey topics include:
- Level of overall satisfaction with support
- Likelihood to suggest your company to a friend or work with your business in the future
- Suggestions for improvement
- Preferred products/services
- Information on how the product/services help customers achieve their goals
- Whether or not they felt customer support was knowledgeable
- Satisfaction with the time frame of support
Customer surveys can include ratings from 1-5 stars, yes/no questions, long-form questions/responses, and even emojis.
Ensure they can be completed on multiple communication channels, especially via text, email, and social media messages.
Make sure that you send out these surveys immediately after the support request is complete or once an order has been placed to increase the chances of the customer filling them out. Always allow them to opt-in or out of these surveys, but offer those that do take it a discount on a future purchase or an entry into a giveaway.
Find The Right Business Tools To Increase Customer Satisfaction
Now that you have some solutions to the biggest customer service problems, you’re likely curious about how the right business tools can do more to help you prevent them from happening in the first place.
Whether you need assistance with choosing the right business VoIP provider, CRM software, or video conferencing platform, our reviews and comparison tables will help you to sort through your best options.
Better, more streamlined customer service is on its way.