About 82% of customers deeply value convenience, friendliness, and human touch when it comes to their ideal customer service experience. If you want customers to continue to return to your business, you need to treat them well, and successfully handle the customer service challenges that inhibit your support team.
What are customer service challenges?
Customer service challenges are scenarios that get in the way of providing the customer with a favorable resolution. Customer service challenges are often internal – for instance, clunky software or poor internal collaboration – that affect customer service quality in the long run.
It’s important to overcome these challenges to keep delivering outstanding customer service. We’ll go through six of the most challenging situations now and discuss how to deal with them.
6 Customer service challenges and how to solve them
1. Handling too many customer interactions at once
This is a common customer service challenge where agents end up handling too many customer queries to try and achieve their targets and be more productive. Your agent may be on live chat dealing with several chats at once, or they may be dealing with a flood of emails from demanding customers.
The problem is that over-extending your team with too many concurrent tasks will affect your agents’ productivity due to burnout and the mental toll of constantly multitasking.
Overburdening your agents can also keep your customer waiting in the queue with no updates and cause customers to not feel like a priority. Speed is the highest customer priority and they expect you to deliver fast response times or they may start looking elsewhere to do business.
- Manage expectations: Clearly communicate the expected response time so that the customer isn’t kept waiting with no background information. 88% of customers expect a response from your business within 60 minutes, so notify them if it will take longer. Give them timely updates on the status of the inquiry so that if it’s facing a delay or under review by other teams, make sure customers are aware of this.
- Route tickets: Use automatic routing mechanisms to set up rules and manage workloads evenly among agents. Apart from balancing the workload of each agent, setting up task routing based on the issue type or agent expertise level enables faster and more efficient support.
- Use self-service: Divert basic questions by setting up a self-service portal and an answer bot. About 40% of customers now expect self-service over human contact to fulfill customer expectations by enabling them to help themselves.
2. Difficulty in fetching customer context
It’s much easier to create a thoughtful and relevant response to customers when you have access to their conversations from different channels such as email, call, social media, and live chat. But it also can be difficult to comb through every channel and database to find out more about the customer.
That is the challenge: customers expect your business to know the context of their inquiry. They don’t want to repeat themselves when they move to a different channel – this leads to rising customer frustration and an increased likelihood of churn. But how do you provide this experience at scale?
- Go omnichannel: 9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless integrations between communication methods. Make sure your customer service software is omnichannel out of the box. An omnichannel platform brings all customer interactions into one screen to make support easier and contextual for the support team. Hence, they spend less time hunting for information and don’t have to ask for more background from the customer. Customers view their interaction with a business as a single ongoing conversation, and your company should do the same.
- Make use of integrations: Connect your tools together to bring more information into your helpdesk. Integrate your billing software, shipping tools, and CRM with your helpdesk so that agents have the full context of every customer’s history right at their fingertips.
Tip: Look out for a customer service software that supports APIs and integrations with a robust marketplace. Make sure the integrations can be handled in a single-page view within the software instead of a disparate tool or window.
3. Managing escalations from customers
Imagine being a customer and enjoying a product or service – everything is fine until it’s not. Your fresh food box might have been delivered with spoiled produce, or your video streaming service keeps buffering. You get on the phone to customer support, and what happens next can change your relationship with the company forever.
Escalations and crises drive not just the support team but the entire organization into a state of panic, especially if there’s no standardized flow of communication and control. It requires active engagement from multiple stakeholders within the organization to resolve the issue. While your company is racing to contact the relevant stakeholders and solve the issue, customers are waiting on hold and growing more frustrated.
- Create an escalation matrix to follow: Give your agents a clearcut SOP (standard operating procedure) to deal with escalation and the protocol to follow to see the issue through to a resolution. Establish a POC (point of contact) for different types of issues from every function involved in the organization.
- Automate ticket creation for escalations: Create rules to identify incoming customer queries that come under the purview of “escalations” by setting up keywords and identifying distress signals. Use your customer help desk software to tag the relevant conversations and ensure they are routed to the relevant team. The right helpdesk automations can also auto-trigger workflows for time-based escalations if certain issues are pushing SLAs
- Empower escalation response teams to make reasonable offers: Many companies are afraid to give escalation response teams the power to compensate or close escalations. Try to resolve issues at the initial representative’s level by giving them the ability to compensate customers and avoid wasting the time of higher management.
4. Too much customer data, too few insights
Customer service analytics is the process of collecting and analyzing customer feedback to discover valuable insights – you can better understand your customers’ needs and expectations and improve your customer experience. But when you’re sitting on a mountain of data, it can be challenging to find out what’s meaningful for your business.
Standing at the cusp of identifying behaviors from customers and the performance of your support team can be frustrating.
- Know what metrics to track: CSAT, NPS, First Response Time, Average Ticket Handling Time, etc. There are many helpful customer service metrics that you can track over time to check how your customer support department is doing. Remember that these metrics are useful in specific situations and will be different for every business. Choose the ones that reflect your customer service philosophy, and don’t measure anything that you won’t actually use the data from.
- Ensure robust reporting and analytics are built into your support stack: Choose the right software from the beginning, so you don’t waste time transitioning from ill-equipped solutions.
- Every interaction with your support team is a chance to collect data: From support tickets to live chat and social media comments, combining quantitative and qualitative data is the best way to view the customer experience fully.
5. Lack of collaboration between support and other departments
Lack of internal collaboration is one of the common customer service challenges. Customer support is the responsibility of everyone in the business and it’s bigger than your frontline teams who are directly interacting with customers.
It’s not only your support agents’ job to ensure customer satisfaction, as helping customers is the job of many teams. If there’s a pricing or vendor issue, the accountability has to be evenly divided so that the support team can give its best. If there’s a software bug or system outage, support will need to closely liaise with the development team to ensure the problem gets resolved and is communicated with customers.
- Cross-functional collaboration: Use a tool that enables cross-collaboration, preferably within a helpdesk, so that different teams and functions can chat, discuss, tag each other, and work in tandem to resolve a customer ticket.
- Emphasize the importance of customer support: The value of customer support to your company should be clear from the top down. Non-customer-facing employees need to be motivated to work on customer tickets as soon as they are assigned and deliver the best experience possible for the customer.
6. Unfulfilled product and feature requests
Customers often request new features for products but teams only have limited development resources to make changes. They are likely to stick closely to the development roadmap and there’s a good chance most feature requests won’t be fulfilled soon.
Sometimes, organizations may not have the required threshold of request to bring in a product or feature upgrade. And with no clear communication from the C-level and development teams, support agents are left in a vulnerable state with no proper answers for the customer.
- Involve corporate communication: Involve employees from corporate communication to assist in replying to these conversations and keep the customer appraised of the situation with realistic timelines.
- Jump into scheduled calls with product teams: Get your support agents and product representatives to discuss customer requests weekly or monthly to decide what’s feasible and what fulfillment would be beneficial for both the customer and your organization.
- Get C-level on support: The more members of the company management team involve themselves in support, the more opportunities you unearth.
As long as you’re working with customers every day, you’ll continue to face these support challenges, which require creativity and due diligence to overcome. Think of the customer service challenges as ways to show your customers how seriously you take their problems. By being prepared to use these solutions to turn customer service challenges into opportunities, you’ll improve the relationship with your customers and make life in customer support much more effortless.
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