This Is the Worst Customer Service Mistake You Can Make

This Is the Worst Customer Service Mistake You Can Make

We’ve all experienced really bad customer service at some point in our lives. Whether it was failure to resolve an issue to our satisfaction (“sorry, no refund!”), or interminable waiting on hold, or outsourced customer service that really has no meaningful connection to the brand we engaged with, there’s plenty of frustration.

Yet, we should consider, perhaps even admit, customer service as an industry has improved over the years, due to technology and CRM systems (your account history is easily found), and perhaps most importantly, social media.

The consequences of a poor customer service experience have moved away from the one-on-one private phone conversation to a spectator sport in which anyone can share a bad experience, leave a review, or throw shade on a company for not “handling” an issue well. The cost of a bad customer service experience, in real dollars, can spiral out of the reasonable-sphere very, very quickly. Companies get this, and they have done well in evolving and investing to address this new paradigm shift.

Still, despite all the progress and improvements, there is still one, extremely frustrating, worst case scenario of which many companies remain guilty: No reply at all!

Yet there’s no reply at all
There’s no reply at all

This was prophesized by Phil Collins with Genesis back in 1981—yes, nearly 40 years ago! And he was right!

The most disappointing, disheartening customer experience is when a company declines to acknowledge you initiated contact. Whether it was a phone call to customer service that rings indefinitely and is never answered, an email that is not replied to, a chat session that remains stupidly idle, regardless of the communications channel, no reply at all is the worst action (or inaction) a company can provide.

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And yet, it still happens today.

Granted, larger companies are far better equipped to avoid this scenario, and most do a good job. Yet, smaller companies without adequate infrastructure, technology, staff, or prioritization can and do, let far too many communications go unanswered. 

Case in point: I recently Googled home repair services, a very specific case, and I selected one of those lead-gen companies that will submit your inquiry to multiple vendors. No harm, no foul; I went in knowing how this model works. Not only did not oneof the three vendors reply to my inquiry, the lead-gen company I utilized did not follow-up to ensure I had a good experience. That bodes badly on four separate companies, none of which I will consider doing business with, ever.

The no reply at all scenario is deadly to brands in not one, but three different ways:

  1. Current customers expect to be accommodated, in a timely manner since they have already paid money for an expected outcome;
  2. Almost customers who are attempting to transact, if questions or concerns are not resolved during their customer journey, they will journey elsewhere;
  3. Leads, top-of-the-funnel gold, making an early stage inquiry, if ignored, they too will journey elsewhere.

And then there is the multiplier effect: a spurned prospect will at best remain silent and never engage with you again, and worse, share the story of their disdain with someone else. And on social media, that disdain can spread with wildfire speed.

Brands, companies, franchise outlets, and mom & pop shops would all do well to acknowledge every inquiry or issue, on every channel, every time. This prescription—regardless of the specifics of the issue—will always be better received than no reply at all.

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There is no excuse to no reply at all other than apathy on the part of management.

The tools, the technology, even manual systems to manage this process are abundant and accessible to just about any company of any size. There really is no excuse to no reply at all other than apathy on the part of management. And that does not sit well with most customer service agents. Their job is ridiculously hard enough as it is, without pre-angering a contact with some prior aspect of, “you don’t matter, we’ll just ignore you” as a conversation starter.

Convince and Convert works with major brands on just about every aspect of customer experience and digital marketing. If your digital response rate is less than stellar, fix it. Fix it now. If we can help, drop us a note. We will reply.

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