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5 Things that Instantly Destroy the Customer Experience

For years, I have naturally examined every part of my personal customer service interactions from a customer’s point of view. I’ve learned that not only does this practice help me determine where to do business, and where not to do business, but it also teaches me ways to improve the service I provide. I continually make mental notes of what to do, as well as what not to do, and furthermore, make the tweaks necessary to implement what I have learned in my own bag of customer service related tools. Based on my observations over the years, here are five ways you can instantly ruin the customer experience.

Poor customer experience

1.    Reprimanding an employee in front of the customer

When I am doing business and I witness a manager reprimanding an employee in front of me, or any other customer, it instantly diminishes the customer experience. As a customer, I do not need to know your companies’ inner flaws. If an employee is doing something incorrectly, don’t reprimand them in a public area where every customer can hear. The proper way to handle the situation is to take the employee aside, and politely let them know the correct way to perform the task. When dealing with employees, it is best to remember the well-known saying: never air your dirty laundry in public.

2.    Holding team meetings in public areas

Similarly, the inner workings of a business belong in team meetings, and confidential information should never be discussed in a public area. I have witnessed employees having private conversations in public places countless times over the years, and it continues to amaze me that people think this is acceptable. From regional management holding meetings in the dining area of a fast food chain to team members joining a conference call by way of speakerphone in an airport or a big box store, you tarnish the customer experience when you discuss the inner workings of your company in public.

3.    Displaying frustration in front of a customer

And speaking of inappropriate behavior in public, when dealing with difficult situations in an open area of your business, it is extremely important to stay calm while resolving an issue. Not only does losing your cool make dealing with the customer in front of you much harder, but it also leaves others with a negative customer experience. Customers feed off positive energy and negative energy. Your frustration and your negative demeanor impacts the experience of all customers around you. Losing your patience, talking loudly, and even exhibiting slightly negative facial expressions or tone will ruin the experience of every customer around you. This is important to remember when dealing with a difficult customer, but is even more important when dealing with your employees. Giving an employee a dirty look or snide comment can not only affect the customer experience, but can also set a negative mood for the employee that they may then transfer to future customer interactions.

4.    Failing to smile or greet a customer

If you want to create an exceptional customer experience, it is important to realize that every interaction impacts the overall customer experience. Often, customer service training is only delivered to specific departments, such as the front desk staff, servers, or contact center agents. But the truth is, every employee has an equal amount of responsibility in delivering superior service, and the experience starts with a greeting or a sincere smile. When a new customer walks through the door of your business, every person he or she encounters should smile and make eye contact. The lack of this basic gesture can instantly give a customer a negative feeling. And when a customer calls for service, they should “hear” a smile and warm greeting on the other end of the line.

5.     Telling a customer that you or your department cannot help

This final tip is especially pertinent to contact centers. How often have you or your employees encountered a customer issue that your team couldn’t resolve? Did you tell the customer something like "We do not handle that", or “You need to contact xyz department"? That type of response is simply unacceptable and will result in an unsatisfied customer almost every time. As an employee of your company, the customer is looking to you for a resolution. They don’t know or care what department you’re in, they just want help.  If you truly cannot resolve their issue, you should personally alert the department that can help, and ensure someone from that department promptly responds to the customer's needs. Whether the response is in person before the customer leaves the building, by phone, or by email, the customer should know what the next step is before you end the conversation. The key to satisfaction is to guarantee the customer leaves the conversation feeling confident that your company will resolve their issue.

Avoiding these five missteps will help your company provide a positive customer experience.

Have you learned any customer experience lessons that you’ve applied to improve the service your team provides? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below!