It’s often easy for companies to identify and address their customers’ major pain points, since customers tend to be very vocal about these. But there are typically a number of ambient concerns which both customers and the companies they patronize may not even be conscious of…that is, until they reach a boiling point and cause a visible problem. These customer problems, if left unaddressed, can seriously endanger your bottom line.
Problem #1: Your Customers Aren’t Being Heard
Listening to your customers goes beyond responding to their praise and complaints. It extends to hearing them. This means taking action to maintain that which your customers appreciate and address what they don’t. Take a closer look at your customer feedback—even the most scathing of complaints can point you towards an area which needs improvement. If you can, start by trying to isolate a common theme and attack the problem head-on, at its source.
Problem #2: Your Customers Don’t Know Where to Find You
Everyone knows the frustration of sitting on hold for hours on end, only to be told you have the wrong number and transferred to another department’s call queue. If your customers experience this on a regular basis, it’s time for a change. Make sure your customers have—and are aware of—multiple avenues of communication through which they can obtain the information they need. These should include issue-specific phone numbers, email-based support, and accessible online contact forms. Most, if not all, instances of your brand should be accompanied by this contact information.
Problem #3: Your Customers Are Sick of Waiting
How often do you ask your customers to wait for your business to respond? Do they need to wait for their order to arrive? Do they wait to have their questions answered? For their payment to be processed? For your product to be repaired? If you’re constantly making your customers wait, they’re bound to reach the limits of their patience and go on the hunt for a more proactive provider. Take steps to avoid this by doing what you can to eliminate waiting periods. Streamline your customer response process and perform an audit on your company’s problem-solving techniques to identify and address possible delays. If you’re in an appointment-based business and find it difficult to reach your appointments on time, consider using a GPS-based customer scheduling tool to manage your appointments. That way, your mobile workforce is kept aware of appointments and can be dispatched and re-routed as needed.
Problem #4: Your Customers Have Low Expectations
If your customers have come to expect less, they’ll jump ship the second one of your competitors promises them more. Strive to provide the best service possible to all of your customers, regardless of how long you’ve had their business or how loyal you believe them to be. Many companies become complacent with their “established” customers and start focusing the bulk of their energies on the pursuit of new converts. If you value customer loyalty, show it—treat your long-standing professional relationships with the same care and attention you’d give to a prospective customer. Your efforts will not go unnoticed, especially when it comes to clients who are at risk of taking their business somewhere else.
Problem #5: Your Customers Are “Satisfied”
Very few people, if any, will become regulars at a restaurant where the service and food is “satisfactory”. No one will tweet about being “satisfied” with their latest online shopping experience. Shoppers won’t respond to a grocery store that promises “satisfactory” savings. Too many companies are content with being satisfactory, assuming that customers are happy if they’re not complaining. But customer satisfaction can be a fickle thing—one negative experience, one instance of positive press concerning a competitor, and those “satisfied” customers will vanish. It’s only when a company strives to be more than satisfactory, to provide the best service possible at every opportunity, that they can transcend this threat. Don’t let your company be satisfied with a steady influx of lukewarm reviews—do everything you can to set your brand apart with customer service that’s anything but “satisfactory”.
Keeping customers happy is an art. It’s not enough to provide “one-size-fits-all” support and offer up generic answers to common customer problems. To keep customers loyal, companies must be readily available, ready to listen, and constantly conscious of their customers’ unique needs.