The impact of bad customer service in business

Isabella Roland • 08 Dec 2022 • 5 min read

It goes without saying that one of the best ways you can improve your business’s reputation is through excellent customer service. Not only does good customer service make customers feel valued, but it could very well put you ahead of your competition if they’re not making the same effort.

However, getting customer service right is not always easy, and bad customer service can be incredibly harmful to both your business’ reputation and sales, turning away potentially new and loyal customers alike.

So, if you want to learn how to avoid having bad customer service in business, keep reading our guide. We’ll cover what good customer service is, how to increase customer satisfaction, and how to apologize to a customer for bad service if you make a mistake.

What is good customer service?

At its core, good customer service is all about building strong, trustworthy relationships with your main customer base by responding quickly to requests, fixing problems in a timely manner, and treating them with respect and understanding at every turn of their customer journey.

Essentially, you want to be able to provide a seamless buying process and a frictionless support structure that enables your team to meet any customer’s needs in as few steps as possible.

Of course, there is more to it than this, and there are many tips and tricks you can employ to get across this sort of message and feeling to your customers.

What is bad customer service?

As you might already have guessed, bad customer service is the exact opposite of good customer service. It’s having long wait times to fix even the simplest problems, placing customers on hold for extended periods, and generally treating them with disrespect.

In most cases, no company goes into business with the express desire to deliver bad customer service. But without the right attitude, awareness, and staff training, the sort of behavior that leads to bad customer service can become quickly ingrained. And once this happens, customer satisfaction is going to drop rapidly.

Why is customer satisfaction important?

At the end of the day, whether or not your business is successful will depend entirely on if your customers want to buy from you. And if your customer service is poor, then customer satisfaction will be low, so they’re far less likely to offer repeat business in the future.

But there’s more to it than this. For example, good customer satisfaction will boost customer loyalty and retention, which typically means more positive reviews and testimonials. This in turn helps you to stand out from the competition by offering a strong foundation that your customers know they can rely on when they experience problems.

Fortunately, boosting customer satisfaction is easier than it might seem, and by putting certain steps in place that your team needs to follow, you can mitigate the worst customer service habits before they become a reputational issue.

How to provide good customer service

When it comes down to how to increase customer satisfaction, there are a range of skills and strategies you can provide directly and train your staff in to deliver the kind of service expected of the best businesses. We’ve listed the most important ones below:

  • Availability – first things first, you want to be available to your customers whenever they need you. Customers expect rapid responses to their questions, so by offering increased availability, you can make sure you meet their needs head-on.
  • Active listening – regardless of the content of a call, you always want to be sure you’re actively listening and note-taking. This eliminates the need for customers to repeat themselves and lets you tailor your response to fit their unique requests.
  • Personalization – most customers want to be treated like actual people when they call your business directly, rather than a number in a queue, and using their name can go a long way to facilitating this.
  • Omnichannel services – although getting directly in touch via the phone can lead to swift response times, offering multiple channels for customer service, such as Live Chat, provides your customers with the opportunity to reach out to you for help in their preferred manner.
  • Positivity – while not always the easiest thing to do, maintaining a positive attitude and tone when speaking to even the rudest customers will help to defuse potentially difficult conversations and make the overall experience more pleasant.
  • Empathy – along with active listening and positivity, most customers want to feel heard and understood if they’re having a problem, which makes practicing empathy a must-have step when it comes to customer service training.
  • Accountability – last, but not least, if you make an error while serving a customer then you need to hold yourself accountable to this. Presenting an honest and transparent front will go a long way to building customer trust.

How to avoid having bad customer service in business

Alongside things you can focus on to ensure you provide good customer service, there are also plenty of steps and mistakes you can look to avoid to prevent bad customer service. For example, you should always be aware of the following problem areas:

  • Inaccurate info – the last thing you want to do is provide customers with inaccurate or outdated information which doesn’t help them. So, make sure your staff have the most up-to-date information available when handling calls.
  • A lack of respect – being respectful of customers on a call is essential, even if they’re not showing respect to you and your team. Simply put, if you don’t show respect to even the most difficult customers, interactions will be hard, and most customers will look elsewhere for their needs.
  • Slow response times – just as irritating for a customer as unhelpful information, slow response times often lead to frustration, which in turn can make customer interactions terse and unpleasant. The same is true for putting customers on hold, so you need to be sure you’re answering their calls as quickly as you can.
  • Too much jargon – unless they’re experts in the area they’re calling about, the vast majority of customers don’t want to have extensive jargon thrown their way. Using complex terms is not going to solve their problems and will likely lead to longer calls as you explain what everything means.
  • A lack of professionalism – similar to showing a lack of respect, a lack of professionalism or excessive familiarity and casualness can turn customers off. It can certainly make them feel as if you don’t know how to fix their issue and often exacerbates other problem areas of customer service as a result.

How to apologize to a customer for bad service

Although rare, there are going to be cases when you’re on a call with a customer and you make a mistake. But whether it’s simply inaccurate information or you genuinely misunderstood a customer’s needs, the important thing to do is offer an apology in a professional manner.

You can do this by first apologizing directly and admitting to your own wrongdoing. This will show you respect the customer’s time and that the mistake was not intentional. You can then explain exactly how the mistake was made and then follow this up with an explanation of how you intend to rectify it in clearly defined steps.

In most cases, this will go a long way to put a customer at ease and shows a clear intent to solve whatever problems they’re experiencing.

Improve your customer service with VoiceNation

So, you now know how bad customer service can impact your business, and how you can avoid it. Of course, if you’re worried you don’t have the time or resources to train your staff properly in this area, then you might want to consider employing a Live Answering Service, such as what we offer here at VoiceNation.

Experts in our field, our team of Virtual Receptionists are professionally trained to deliver the sort of customer service you’d expect in the very best businesses. Get in touch to learn more about our services, prices, and free trial.

You can also browse some of our similar articles on this specific topic, such as how to handle angry customers over the phone and how to handle customer complaints.

By Isabella Roland

Isabella Roland is a Marketing Assistant at VoiceNation. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Interdisciplinary History and a Minor in Business Administration at Georgia Gwinnett College and often spends time at school as an active member of the GGC Honors Program. In her free time, she can be found reading, exploring, or cooking.