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The top 10 customer complaints

We've all heard the saying 'The customer knows best'. So while some companies may take these complaints with a pinch of salt, we don't. After all, a happy customer = a happy business.

1. Automated telephone systems
'Press 1 for this', 'press 3 for that' - the customer's annoyed and confused before they've even managed to speak to someone. Don't rely on a machine - talk to your customers.

2. Passing the buck

You aren't playing Hot Potato, so how is passing the customer from pillar to post benefiting anyone? If you're the customer's first port of call, listen to their query and direct it properly. And if a call is passed to you in error, take the details and arrange a call back from the right person - and do it in a timely manner.

3. Hold music

We get it; you can't always answer calls straight away. But after what feels like an eternity of listening to Greensleeves on loop, your customer's going to be even more riled up than when they picked up the phone. Keep the wait time as short as possible, and when they're through to you, keep them engaged.

4. Long queues

On that note, long queues - whether on the phone or in store - are a huge headache for customers. After all, it's great you're busy, but the customer leads a busy life too. Pull staff off quieter stations to muck in, even if they're just taking names and numbers so you can return calls when things quieten down. However you do it, just be apologetic.

5. Ignoring the customer

Specifically, staff talking amongst themselves while serving. Your customers deserve your full attention - otherwise they'll just go to your competitor.

6. Rude staff

Need we say more?

7. Not knowing the products

It should go without saying, but every member of staff needs to know your products and services inside-out. That way, if a customer query arises, they can answer immediately. No hesitation, and most importantly no guesswork (which will almost definitely come back to haunt you).

8. Trying to force a sale

If a customer has contacted with a complaint or an issue, the last thing they want is a sales pitch. Pick your moment!

9. Sticking to the script

You're a human, not a robot, so answer like one. No two queries are identical, so keeping to a strict script is of no help to anyone. By all means, have a rough guide, but always be prepared for the conversation to turn a different way.

10. Long delays

Promised a call back? Received a customer query via email? Answer them as soon as possible. If for whatever reason there's a delay, keep your customer updated so they won't feel forgotten.

Addressing even a couple of these issues will dramatically increase your customer service. Which, in turn, should lead to an increase in retained customers and referred new ones.