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Five Signs Your Customer Service Sucks

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but where customer service is concerned, you may not be doing as stellar a job as you think. Here are five ways to know:

You’re always working for new business.

If you’re always out there trolling for new business, it’s probably because you aren’t getting return business. Anybody can get people in the door to spend a few bucks; it’s taking care of them once they’re inside your four walls and offering them a memorable, positive experience that really takes effort. Creating loyalty and giving people a reason to recommend your business — automatic new business! — is the result of good customer service.

You talk about how great your customer service is.

Don’t tell me — SHOW ME. Great customer service shouldn’t have to be a selling point; it’ll simply reflect in everything that happens in your store.

Your employees are unhappy and unempowered.

If the people you’ve hired to represent you are miserable, it’s going to reflect in how they treat people and how your store operates. If they have to ask a manager for permission — or a key, or a signature — every time someone has a complaint or a return, they’re not going to be happy. They’ll do the bare minimum to get by and get out the door. They won’t smile.

Zappo’s, in addition to providing an amazing company culture, gives their front-line customer-service reps a lot of freedom to help the people who reach them in the call center. They don’t have to ask for permission to offer a refund or do what’s necessary to make someone happy — they just do it. Direct responsibility for people’s happiness can do a lot for morale!

You’re not testing what you’re training.

Never assume that your training program is perfect. You should be evaluating every aspect of your training after every new employee you train, and be prepared to change your program if something didn’t work. You may discover in your testing that you’re training the wrong thing — or don’t know what you’re missing.

Paying attention to your customers’ reactions and satisfaction is a good way to measure how effective your training is. (The two are related, you know!)

People are telling you, and everyone they know, that you suck.

No-brainer, right? But if you aren’t listening to your customers, how are you going to know? Do mystery shops. Do text surveys. Watch message boards, social media channels and sites like Yelp, CitySearch and Angie’s List. Satisfied customers often spread the word, but disgruntled customers are even louder.

And if you don’t hear anything, don’t assume that no news is good news. ASK!