The UK’s most common customer service complaints & combatting them

A survey published last year revealed that five of the most common customer service complaints in the UK were:

1. Having to contact a company numerous times to get a response

2. Waiting on the telephone (in a queue) for a long time

3. Being passed from department to department

4. Staff with poor knowledge

5. Their complaint wasn't taken seriously.

Most people have experienced at least one of these problems when trying to contact a company about a product/service they have bought, which is frustrating and can lead to a customer leaving you for a competitor.

The above are easy to avoid, and quite often only take a few simple changes to make the communication process simpler and stress-free.

Here are our top tips to combat these customer service faux-pas:

1. If you say you can resolve an issue, then do so quickly - The customer has called your company for help/answers, so don't prolong the situation. If the case requires a call back then keep your promise - you cannot afford to let the customer down. Once this issue has been resolved, follow up afterwards to check they are satisfied and ask if you can help further.

2. Introduce direct phone lines or a list of contacts - Sitting in an automated phone queue for an hour is no one's idea of fun. Sometimes a direct phone contact isn't possible, but you should be able to make contact numbers more specific to save the qualifying questions (press 1 for this, 2 for that..). If you have various branches then let the customer know the name of the branch manager and the office opening times. Another option is to allow customers to register for a call back. If the customer requests a call let them know who will ring them and the approximate time they will be called.

3. Give customers a contact card - Contact cards work well as they put a face to the name. Let the customer know who their point of contact is in various situations, and the different ways of contacting them to avoid being passed around departments. If the contact isn't available then give other staff the knowledge to help rather than pass them on. Remember, it is far better to arrange a call back with a person who can help than pass the call around (playing hot potato) to get the call away from you and hope someone else may know the answer.

4. Make sure staff know who to get help from - If staff aren't up to speed with your full product set or don't have the knowledge to resolve basic issues, then make sure they know who they can contact for help. Supply your staff with their own contact cards with senior members of staff who can help them give customers an answer. This gives staff the confidence to resolve an issue, knowing that they can check before over-promising.

5.All complaints should be acknowledged, no matter how small they may seem - If a customer is unsatisfied, always take a note of their complaint and try to resolve the issue. It could be something as simple as offering a refund, adding it to a list of suggested product/service improvements or maybe an apology from the right person. Let the customer know what is going to happen with their complaint and that your company takes it seriously. Remember, customers who are unsatisfied don't just leave you - they leave you and tell all their friends, and even their friends-friends-friends, through social media!

These small process changes can make a big difference to the overall customer experience. Training your staff to deal with situations; give staff more power to resolve issues (you can put a ceiling amount on it if you prefer before it needs to be taken to management level) and use common sense, don't be too tied up in company policy to effectively help the customer.

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