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9 of the Most Common Customer Service Mistakes

It’s no secret that customers can be difficult. There are the ones who provide incorrect information, the last-minute shoppers who demand lightning-fast turnarounds, people who change their minds a dozen times—it’s frustrating, to say the least. But how many times have you made mistakes? How many mistakes have cost you time and money? How many errors have made it all the way to your customers’ hands?

9 of the Most Common Customer Service Mistakes

Identifying widespread errors is the first step toward reducing or eliminating mistakes altogether.

By Fran Carville, CRM

(Originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of Insights.)

It’s no secret that customers can be difficult. There are the ones who provide incorrect information, the last-minute shoppers who demand lightning-fast turnarounds, people who change their minds a dozen times—it’s frustrating, to say the least. But how many times have you made mistakes? How many mistakes have cost you time and money? How many errors have made it all the way to your customers’ hands?

Most retail award mistakes happen when an order is taken, when the order is processed or after the order is completed. Identifying the most common mistakes, especially with customer service, is the first step to reducing or eliminating mistakes altogether.

 

Taking the Order

1. Customer indifference

We all like to shop at friendly places where people remember us. Unfortunately, 68% of potential customers do not follow through on a purchase because they perceive an attitude of indifference among the staff, according to the Customer Service Institute. Accordingly, make sure every customer feels like they are your top priority:

  • Greet everyone like an old friend and use their name.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Come out from behind the desk or counter to work with them.
  • Use customer-friendly terms.
  • Let them know an employee will be with them shortly if you can’t help them immediately.
  • Treat every customer as your most important customer.

2. Leaving questions unanswered

It’s easy to drift into conversations with customers after the sale is made. And while it’s a pleasant practice, losing focus of the order can often result in an incomplete order. This mistake can cost you time and leave the customer questioning your abilities when you get in touch for information you didn’t get the first time.

To avoid this, take a minute to review the order to ensure you have all necessary information. Reconfirm the order with the customer, including the due date and the purchase total.

Processing the Order

3. Settling for “good”

Building an order—well, that’s easy enough. After all, we process dozens every day. The mistake is that we forget to treat every order as our only order, as our most important order. Let’s say you have an order for 1,000 trophies, all exactly alike. If it’s late, if you’re hungry, if you’re tired, will you care for the 926th trophy in the same way that you did for the first?

Remember, that 926th trophy will be the only trophy a child might receive. “Good” won’t be good enough. Focus on each award as if it’s the only award you’re making.

4. Being pretty sure

When you’re busy, it’s easy to assume your customer spelled a word correctly or that your system’s spell check will catch every problem. But being pretty sure about order accuracy can lead to big mistakes.

As a remedy, always check for grammatical errors, which occur more frequently than spelling errors. Also, while helpful, spell check programs aren’t 100% accurate. If there is any doubt, double check with a second resource. Be sure to have resources at workstations to help eliminate these mistakes.

5. Relaxing quality standards

Pearl Buck once wrote, “Every mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and remedied.” For awards retailers, that split second comes with every order we process. Remember, if you would not be proud to give or receive the award, neither will your customer.

Ultimately, retailers should be checking all orders for quality, no matter an award’s cost. And, if you have to ask the question, “can I get by with this?”—the answer is no.

6. Ignoring packaging

After putting all of our effort into completing orders, checking and double checking them for errors and quality, we can be prone to stuffing them in an old box and moving on to the next order.

But quality doesn’t stop with a finished product. Retailers need to pack orders securely, so awards can’t be damaged in transit; pack orders by group and label; wrap crystal, glass and acrylic in tissue paper; and remember that presentation is important.

Finishing the Order

7. Not getting in touch

Once an order is complete, don’t just put finished items in a bin and wait for the customer to show up. Call, text or email them when their order is ready and restate the total, as well as your store hours.

8. Assuming the customer has finished shopping

Never assume that when a customer picks up their order, they will be in and out of your store. They might be looking to spend additional money.

Always ask if they need to add anything, and never close out the invoice until the customer gives their OK. Also, the price is the price. If you realize you misquoted a price or had unexpected expenses, the price you quoted the customer is still the price.

9. Assuming they will return

We sometimes think, “once a customer, always a customer.” But in our haste to move on, we can forget that they might decide to not come back.

Avoiding this requires thanking them—not because you have to, but to let the customer know they are valued. Don’t be afraid to give them something extra. Studies have shown that customers better remember companies when they receive something extra. And be sure to stay in touch with them as well.

For most of us, being an awards retailer is like being in a blender. We are pulled in so many different directions, but nothing is more important than our customers. If we can eliminate common mistakes, we’ll have happier customers—and happier customers could lead to a happier bottom line.

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