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The Most Common Customer Service Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Businesses can live or die on the strength of their customer service. That doesn't mean customers expect flawless service -- but it does mean you should try to avoid some of the more common mistakes that can turn off your customers. Here are a few major customer service blunders your business should avoid.

Inadequate support channels and staff

This mistake shows itself in a number of ways. Perhaps you don't offer enough customer service channels -- do you only allow email, or can customers also chat or call?

Another big problem is a lack of support staff, which means customers wait too long for help. Time is money, and that applies to both your customers' time as well as the money late responses could cost you.

Customer service should be available 24/7 if at all possible. According to Hubspot surveys, 90% of customers rate an immediate response to customer service questions as very important.

At a minimum, make sure you have a comprehensive FAQ page on your website. An online chat option is also very helpful for quick answers to basic questions. And you'll definitely want to make sure someone dedicates time to handling support emails and/or customer calls every day.

Lack of customer management tools

Few things can annoy me in a customer service interaction quicker than having to repeat the same information over and over. If you take my name and account number at the start of a call or chat, I expect you to still have that information five minutes later. If I call and chat with someone about my problem, I expect there to be a record of that chat the next time I call.

Give your support staff the tools to organize and keep track of customer information. And no, I don't mean sticky notes in a paper file.

It's the digital age, and there are countless customer relationship management software solutions that you can adopt to keep your client information organized and accessible. You may even already have useful customer management tools, depending on your business accounting software.

Not empowering your support staff

Even immediate responses to questions aren't valuable if those responses don't include answers. If the person in contact with the customer can't actually solve the problem, your customer will lose confidence in your company as a whole.

Make sure you empower your support staff with both the knowledge and ability to get things done. Keep customer service staff up to date on product changes and launches -- ideally before they're implemented -- and give them the authority to solve minor issues on their own.

You're also going to want to treat customer support staff like the valuable members of the team that they are. The folks manning the phones (or chats) are a direct line to your customer. It's important that they're a positive impression, and happy employees are far more likely to be a good representation of your business.

Dodging responsibility

A very frustrating part of having a product not live up to expectations is when the business refuses to recognize the problem. Customers can forgive mistakes -- but not if you insist those mistakes didn't happen.

Own up to mistakes you've made. Additionally, recognize that even some customer errors are actually mistakes on the part of the seller or service. If directions aren't clear or complete, accidents happen. Make those right.

Unfortunately, you may even sometimes have to make it right for customer mistakes that aren't your -- or your company's -- fault at all. Ultimately, you need to weigh the cost of losing that customer versus the cost of appeasing that customer.

Good customer service makes a customer feel heard. Always make sure to respond promptly, courteously, and with solutions.

Connect with an Old National Small Business Banker for more insights to help your business grow.

This article was written by Brittney Myers from The Motley Fool and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to

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