10 Most Critical Customer Service Mistakes You Can Avoid

Published:   Last Updated: May 25, 2021

The key to a thriving business is having repeat business. But you’re less likely to achieve that if you do not have excellent customer service and do not try to exceed customers’ expectations.

Mind you, lousy customer service is what leads to customer churn. On the other hand, excellent customer service plays an essential factor in fostering brand loyalty.

Excellent Customer Service can be a Valuable Business Asset

Ease, effectiveness, and positive emotion is what you can define great customer service by. 

The way how your customer service team deals with customer issues is a direct statement of your values. It also showcases your capability to turn things around for the better.

This explains why excellent customer service can be a business asset and foster a meaningful relationship with your customers. Providing great customer service shows that you care for your customers and always aim for excellence. Lastly, customer service can be a great platform to collect ideas on how you can improve your business and gather useful customer-based insights.

Critical Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In terms of customer service, it is always better to prevent mistakes rather than resolve them and deal with the consequences. Below we have gathered 10 most typical customer service mistakes that can ruin a company’s reputation.

Customer service mistakes

1. Making it Difficult to Reach Customer Service

One of the most common complaints that customers have is that they have trouble finding a way to get in touch with the support.

“Trying to find out how to reach customer service should NOT feel like an episode of CSI.”

Source: CSR Report

You should always provide an easy way for customers to reach out to you and offer several contact touchpoints. Having omnichannel support means organizing customer service strategies in place for various channels.

contact options

So, make it easy and straightforward for customers to get in touch, switch between channels, and you’ll notice their enhanced perception of your brand.

2. Lack of Customer Self-Service Options

In fact, 66% of US online responders mentioned that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good online customer service experience.

Source: Forrester Data Consumer Technographics North American Retail And Travel Customer Life Cycle Survey, Q1 2017 (US).

Today’s customers aren’t just ready for self-service. In fact, they prefer it over other types of customer support. 

According to Microsoft findings, on average two-thirds of users go directly to self-service first before engaging with an agent. 

Source: Forrester

So the best thing you can do to value the customers time is to organize  effective customer self-service portal.

When done correctly, self-service support allows customers to find the information faster. As a result, no need to hear your phone ring for hours or answer emails and social media queries all day.

Useful Tips: Remember, that Self-Service should only be an option, you should always provide a way to contact the representative as an escalation point for more complex issues. 

3. Poor Customer Service Availability

The customer service of your business shouldn’t end when your operating hours do.

Limiting customer care to a 9-5 schedule can be detrimental to your company in the long run. Instead, it would help if you focus on providing a convenient experience to your customers 24/7.

24/7 customer service

Not limiting your customer service hours allows your customers to leave you a request at a convenient time.  

Useful Tips: Even if the phone lines aren’t open at the moment, you can keep customer self-service options, set up a chatbot or email support auto-responder option long after business hours.

4. Long Response Time

Another customer service aspect that you need to consider is the response time.

Usually, response time is the average time for a support agent to respond to a customer inquiry via customer support channels.

No one wants to wait more than expected, so you have to ensure that you meet the response time standards:

Average benchmark for first response time by support channel

The ideal response time also varies per channel. For instance, if you have a live chat option on your site, there should be an instant reply. On the other hand, an email may take at least a day or two to get answered.

Useful Tips: Configure your SLA rules the way so that you get notifications and the customer gets an automated reply in case there’s a long wait time at a certain channel.

5. Failure to Listen to the Customer

Listening and trying to understand the matter of the problem allows you to clarify the situation and see how you can help best.

So, make sure that you understand the issue and double-check the problem if necessary. Ask the questions as a part of pro-active listening. You can also follow up with a genuine apology in some situations because some people are just waiting for you to admit your mistakes.

“Listened, apologized….satisfied.”

Quote from Customer Service Report

Chances are, your customers will never forget how you made them feel after a conversation. Therefore, you should put your customers’ feelings at the forefront when you’re interacting with them.  

6. Blaming the Customer

Sometimes, this may be a bit difficult to admit, but the thing is, you’re representing the entire company.

Moreover, with a genuine apology, your customers will feel more understood. You can even convert an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.

Often the lack of apology on your part or blaming someone else for the situation will only make things worse. According to the Customer Service Report, apologizing can go a long way in relieving customer tension.

7. Forgetting to Use Social Media

You should also make sure that your social media pages stay up to date and you address the incoming messages and track mentions of your company.

Often, clients will reach out to you via social media to complain, and failing to respond to these will make them even more frustrated.

So, as much as you can, keep your social media content fresh, and interact with any comments and messages that might come in.

8. Relying Too Much on Automation

Everything that can be automated, should be automated. But don’t just automate things just because you can. This removes any personalization or forming any genuine connection with your customer.

Ensure that you provide a variety of communication modes with leaving an option for live communication. That’s because most customers would instead prefer using online chat than talking on the phone. But before allowing the direct contact, give the customer incentive to solve the issue on their own.

Source: Topbots

9. Inadequate Support Employee Training

It’s one of the most critical customer service mistakes when customer service agent fails to ask the right set of questions to understand the customer’s problem.

You should always strive to provide your support team with proper and systematic training, and constantly provide them feedback to help with their weak spots and motivate.

Give your support agents a record or a script on how to handle certain operations and deal with the complaints. This allows you to avoid customer issues down the line proactively. But make sure that the support agent doesn’t simply read from the script and sound robotic.

10. No Option to Leave Feedback

Not asking for feedback is a typical customer service mistake that many companies make. Many customers never complain about a particular issue unless you reach out. The result is customer churn.

Enabling proactive live chat support on your website or even simply placing a “Feedback” button on your site could solve this problem.

You should also provide an option for the customer to measure a certain support interaction and send a CSAT satisfaction survey when a chat gets closed or a ticket is completed.

Useful Tips: You can also organize a vocal customer feedback community where you will be able to collect useful customer-based insights.


Excellent customer service is not just reducing expenses or making the support flows more efficient. Instead, it’s a systematic reinvention of established technology, data, and operations — from automation, data, culture, and agents training together to exploit each of their unique strengths. Customer service should be agile enough to react to customers’ changing expectations and moreover, aim to exceed those expectations. 

How to ensure that all of your customer conversations end up in a single place and get resolved on time?

UseResponse can be a great helper with it. It is a customer service all-in-one suite for omnichannel communications that allows you to connect each point of contact you may have with your customer. Managing inquiries from your customers and organizing customer self-service can become far more manageable.

Jake Rheude

Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, a reliable provider of California fulfillment services. He has years of experience in e-commerce and business development.

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