Many of the ways that a company and its employees can go wrong in serving customers are subtle, but the following five certainly aren’t. If any of these serious customer service missteps are happening, or have happened recently, at your company, it’s time to look into a company culture (and perhaps personnel) overhaul, sooner rather than later.
1. Misleading a customer. Not only is this philosophically wrong, it’s most likely a strategic error as well – even if the truth never comes out; even if you get away with your lie as far as customers are concerned, the people who work with you will nonetheless learn the wrong example and get demoralized by overhearing your lies.
2. Risking a customer’s safety or security. Examples include: leaving unsecured throw rugs and mats on your floors (there’s a reason that “trip and fall” accidents got that name), blocking (or locking) fire exits or obscuring them for aesthetic reasons with curtains, pulling the batteries out of your smoke detectors “because that beep was annoying,” or fudging the details of your renovation plans so that you don’t have to install fire sprinklers. This category also includes failing to follow proper security procedures when handling customer credit card information and other personal details they have entrusted to you.
3. Bullying the staff who serve your customers. This is immediately damaging if done in view or earshot of a customer, but it’s essential that it is not happening behind the scenes either. The effect on customers due to employee demoralization will bring down your entire organization in the end.
4. Being hostile toward providing accommodations for customers with disabilities. This includes being dishonest about the details of your renovation proposal so you don’t have to bring your business up to compliance. It also includes grudgingly following governmental disability requirements but then failing to have clear directional signage that makes your revised setup usable to a newly arrived customer; it includes failing to train your staff in how to serve customers with disabilities; and it includes being negative behind the scenes (and where employees can hear you) about the challenges of serving customers with disabilities.
5. Arguing with or belittling a customer (“Well, that’s wrong. You should have…”). This includes arguing with a customer, even if “he started it;” not saying “I’m sorry” when the situation is really your fault; and not living up to a promise that was given to a customer, even if made by someone else in the organization.
For more on this topic, read NewVoiceMedia's whitepaper, Using Emotional Connections to Create Exceptional Customer Experiences.