What Are the Causes of Customer Service Breakdowns in Business?

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While the goal of most successful organizations is to keep the customer happy, sometimes issues can arise that prevent the business from delivering on their promise. When dealing with customer service breakdowns, it’s important to investigate the root cause of the issue so your organization can work to proactively fix it. This way, you can reduce customer complaints and improve satisfaction.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Common causes of customer services breakdowns include poor goal setting, lack of training, lack of resources and low commitment on the part of employees.

Poor Goal-Setting

One of the main causes of a customer service breakdown is the lack of goal-setting on the business’ end. Every employee in your company needs to have a concrete idea of what it means to deliver excellent customer service. As a result, it’s necessary to identify and establish clear aims for your customer service strategy.

For example, goals may include reducing customer complaints, increasing customer loyalty or improving overall revenue by increasing basket size. When employees understand the clear direction your company wants to go in with regard to customer service, they will be better prepared to help you reach your objective.

Lack of Training and Tools

Sometimes, employees aren’t provided with the right training or tools in order to effectively complete their jobs. If employees don’t know all the product features, for example, they can’t answer complex customer questions about the product – which leads to a customer service breakdown. The business needs to arm its customer-facing employees with product knowledge and customer services processes.

The tools an employee has access to are also an important part of the job. For example, providing frontline staff with a solution for logging customer complaints may reduce the level of service breakdowns. If employees can use a project management system to note complaints, provide corrective action and inform management, issues can be resolved faster and more efficiently.

Low Employee Engagement

Often, customer service breakdowns happen as a result of poor employee engagement. When your staff doesn’t have any incentive to improve their level of service, they may not want to put in the effort. In some cases, management treats frontline staff poorly, but expect the staff to treat their customers like royalty. This isn’t an effective way to reduce customer service issues.

Instead, organizations should treat their employees the way they want them to treat their customers. Offer rewards for good behavior and incentives for doing the job well. Empower your employees to feel valued so they will be motivated to succeed. Most importantly, show them the respect you want them to show your customers.

Not Having a Proactive Plan

A solid customer recovery plan can help your organization to fix customer service issues. However, if there is no process in place for employees to follow when they deal with a customer service complaint, it will result in a systematic breakdown. When the employee doesn’t know what to do next, the customer may take this as a sign that your business is not equipped to deal with problems. It shows a lack of professionalism.

Provide employees with plans to follow through for different scenarios. For example, if they are dealing with a product-related complaint, they will need to inform the product manager right away. If they are dealing with a delivery-related issue, they need to speak with the warehouse. Good planning can help to ease the problems that arise as a result of customer service breakdowns.

Ensure Service Recovery for Unsatisfied Customers

In addition to dealing with the root causes of customer service breakdowns in business, it’s important to focus on service recovery tactics. How will your organization bring an unsatisfied customer to a place where they are interested in dealing with your business again?

Start by apologizing to the customer for their poor experience. Take ownership of the issue and accept responsibility where it’s due. Then, acknowledge the customer’s feelings. It’s important to show the customer that you value their opinion. Create a plan to fix the issue and make amends. Most importantly, ensure every employee goes through this process consistently so that the customer knows what to expect.

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About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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  • girl with headphone image by Vasiliy Koval from Fotolia.com