Usually, when your customers reach out to you, they are already in a bad state—they’re having problems with their product or service and they want your help. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Customers would rather not have to talk to anyone when they’re running into trouble, but would ultimately rather not have any trouble at all. So, when they reach out to you, if you provide them with an experience that is less-than-stellar, it can make the whole thing feel even worse.
We’ve put together a list of the four things that you should avoid at all costs when talking with your customers: these are the four things that your customers hate the most when they are looking for help.
A while ago, I had an experience in support that left the sourest taste in my mouth. I was working with a chat support agent to try to resolve a shipping issue for something that I had now ordered (and had disappeared) twice. I was frustrated and it seemed like it would never get resolved. Just when I thought I was starting to get somewhere, I was redirected to another agent in another department who was “better equipped” to handle my issue.
I had to totally reiterate the whole problem all over again.
It served to not only remind me of all the trouble that the company had caused me (which upped my frustration), but the redirect also required me to type out everything that I had already said all over again. It was infuriating and time-consuming, and it made me not want to just use the company’s services anymore.
If you have to shift your customers from one department to another, do that seamlessly for them. Rather than advising someone to call a specific number, or email a different email address or reach out on a separate platform, move them there automatically. This is an infinitely better experience for your customer and will make them less likely to grow frustrated with you.
Finding Outdated Information
As noted above, customers hate having to reach out to a person for help. They’d much rather just be able to find the information that they are trying to find for themselves. Given that, when they find outdated information it can be incredibly annoying.
Imagine this: you’ve been having trouble with a product that you’ve purchased online. You’ve replaced the batteries, you’ve tried all the troubleshooting on the manual that you received with the product, and still, it won’t turn on. So, you head to the internet. You do not want to have to email or tweet and then wait for a response. You find the documentation online, and start searching to see if there is anything similar to what you are looking for.
Yahtzee! You find something and read through it. Only to discover at the bottom that it’s noted that documentation hasn’t been updated in a year and a half. You go to look at the product that you have in your hands and note that all of the images are also outdated, and you can’t even find some of the things referenced in the doc.
Yes, this might seem like an extreme example, but it happens all the time. Make sure that your documentation is updated regularly, especially when you release new products or versions of your app. There’s nothing worse than a customer having trouble who has to reach out to you about the issue they’re having and also let you know that your documentation is out of date.
Many people have heard of the saying “underpromise, overdeliver”. While we aren’t advocating for that (you should probably just tell people what you’re going to give them and then stick to it), it is important to make sure that you deliver on the promises that you do make.
So, for example, if you say that you will respond to all tickets within 24 hours on your website, and in your autoreply that goes out to all customers you reiterate the same thing, you should indeed respond to all tickets in 24 hours. From the customer perspective, if they’ve been told that it is what to expect, and then you don’t uphold it, they are going to be upset—and that makes sense! You promised them something and broke their trust when it was already fairly broken in the first place.
The same thing goes for when you’re working on fixing a bug or another issue. As a rule of thumb, unless you can guarantee when the fix is going to be pushed, do not tell the customer when it will be pushed, or when you will get back to them about it. You can let them know you are working on it, but exact timelines are a recipe for disaster and for you breaking your promises.
Hearing About Policy And Procedure
Have you ever been part of a conversation asking a supplier or provider for something and the answer was “Sorry, that’s outside of our policy.” or “No, we don’t have a procedure for that right now.” If you haven’t, it’s pretty much the most uncomfortable thing in the world to hear—especially when the thing the provider or supplier is saying no to is something that you really need.
When you’re talking to your customers, even if there is a policy or a procedure in place that is blocking you from giving them what they need, present it in a different way than telling them that your hands are tied. Your customers don’t care if your hands are tied, they care if you are helping them as much as you can. So, maybe instead of saying “I’m sorry, I can’t help you with that refund, it’s outside of our policy period.” try saying “I’m sorry, unfortunately, I’m not able to provide you with a refund for that at this time. Beyond three months of time after purchase is when our billing system disallows us to refund money. That being said, I’m happy to offer you a credit to your account, if you think that would help.” This provides them with a solution and explains the situation without having to lean on the crutch of policy or procedure.
Help Your Customers, Don’t Hinder Them
Mostly what your customers hate is to be hindered in what they are looking for when they are trying to help themselves or receive help for an issue. To avoid making your customers hate you when they are just looking for help, all you have to do is to make it as straightforward as possible for them to find what they are looking for. If they are looking for docs, keep your docs updated; if they are looking for a refund or manual service, treat them with kindness, honesty, and integrity. Help them by pointing in them in the right direction towards what they need and get out of their way once they get moving. It’ll benefit both parties in the long run.