Ten customer service issues to keep you up at night

Customer service problems are really opportunities to boost customer trust in your brand. These 10 questions can help you restore that trust.

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People's best attributes often come out when their backs are against the wall. This is no less true in customer service than in other realms of life.

And negative customer service issues -- which I sometimes refer to as Moments of Misery -- give you the opportunity to bring out your best customer service strategies and reaffirm your relationships with customers rather than simply fix problems, firefight and risk-manage. But to turn negative issues into positive solutions, you need to prepare and have a plan. Your inner risk manager should be working overtime to identify what could go wrong in your business and how to prevent it. If these issues aren't keeping you up at night, they should be:

1. How will you handle the problem for the customer? Map out an immediate solution and deliver it with the right attitude and a sense of urgency that will restore the customer's confidence in you.

2. Analyze the source of the problem to determine why it happened.

3. Has this problem happened before? If it has, why has it recurred? Analyze why to prevent, or at least minimize, the chances of it happening again.

Your inner risk manager should be working overtime to identify what could go wrong in your business and how to prevent it.

4. If this is the first time the problem or mistake has occurred, determine what you can do to prevent it from happening again. (See next question.)

5. Can a process prevent the issue from recurring? This is the follow-up to question No. 4. If you can establish a process to prevent the problem from recurring, it will serve you well.

6. Can you catch the problem before the customer catches it and calls you? Have a system in place to fix the problem before the customer contacts your company or let the customer know about the issue before he finds out on his own. Be proactive.

7. Which parties are involved in preventing this problem from recurring? Determine the stakeholders responsible for eliminating the problem and what their tasks should be to resolve the issue.

8. If this is a rare problem, how can you improve on your fix if it does recur? After the problem has been resolved, decide whether you have handled it the best way you can, or if there is a better way.

9. Do you have information after the problem occurred that you lacked before? Use this data to help you prevent it from happening again.

10. Ultimately, problems provide an opportunity for you to learn from them. Develop insight based on your answers to the above questions -- for internal and external customers.

Remember, the goal isn't just to fix a problem. It's to regain the customer's confidence.

Finally, this is not an exhaustive list. Other questions could resolve or prevent negative customer service issues.

And if you have thoughts on these or additional questions, feel free to comment below or contact me through my website.

About the author:
Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling business author who works with companies that want to develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more, check out Hyken's blog at www.hyken.com.

This was first published in June 2014

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