9 Signs Your Customer Service Needs a Reboot Eric Weiss Your sales are up. You’re scaling your company. You’re adding staff. Your marketing team is bringing in new leads every day. Things are looking great – what more could you need? The answer, of course, is great customer service. If you’re not looking at your customer service data, you’re missing a critical part of modern business – one that can say more about your company than just your front-facing employees. Here are nine telltale signs your customer service may need a reboot: 1. You aren’t getting much customer feedback. In customer service, no news is not necessarily good news. You want to engage with your customers, to hear suggestions for future products, more features, things they love and – yes – things they hate. Fresh app overhaul? Product design suggestion? General Insta-love? Feedback is good, because it means people are engaging with your product or brand. Hearing nothing is a warning sign. Your customer service could be structured in such a way that discourages people from interacting with your brand, which closes off a possible direct link between you and your audience. 2. You are getting customer feedback – and it’s crappy. The flip-side to hearing nothing, of course, is hearing only bad things. This one is fairly self-explanatory: an overwhelming amount of complaints is not a good thing. Not only is it indicative of a problematic product, but your customer service reps will be taking the brunt of this abuse, and only their response can turn it around. An ongoing assault is a bad sign all around. 3. You’ve got a surplus of new customers, but a dearth of returning ones. Who’s engaging with your product? How long are they sticking with it? In the digital world – apps and media sites – we’d call this “user retention”, or “engaged users.” It gets foggy in other industries, but it’s possible to monitor. Start with Google Analytics to see how long people spend on your website or app. If your primary customers are new (you’ve got so many fresh leads, right?), whoever’s in charge of lead generation is doing well. But if nobody is sticking around, then you’ve got to look at two things: first, whether your leads are properly qualified, and second, why they’re dropping off. If there’s a design flaw or customer service problem, this is your chance to analyze and repair it. 4. You care more about the size of your social following than what it represents. Congratulations, you hit 1,000 Facebook followers! Now, tell me: are any of them liking your content? Is anyone leaving a reply? Is there anyone alive out there? Buying social media followers is a quick recipe to destroy your social following. If you’re trying to build engagement, focus on interactions instead of sheer size. Respond to every comment, engage with others’ platforms, share relevant media. Work on building a quality platform with a distinct voice, and make sure you’re using social media as both a customer-service platform and a customer-delighting platform. 5. Your customer service agents aren’t acting or thinking like marketers Word of mouth is often the strongest sales technique. This “earned media” revolves around genuine excitement and authentic promotion of your brand out in the world. How can you get it? Create a good product, sure. Design a cool website, yeah. But customer service – that’s what gets people talking. A friend of mine recently told me about Ring, the camera-doorbell company. She likes the product fine, but what she couldn’t stop raving about was their customer service: fast, friendly, and trusting. She ordered the product on Amazon and it never arrived; rather than ask for a receipt or drag her through red tape, the agent simply believed her immediately and sent her a new one. You might think that’s an easy way to bleed money, but all it cost was a single product – maybe $100 with shipping – and they easily earned more than that in her genuine adoration and promotion. Transform your customer service a sales channel by making it something worth bragging about. 6. Conversely, your customer service is too salesy. Have you ever called your bank to resolve an issue, and at the end been presented with a sales pitch for a new credit card? Often, this feels annoying because it’s irrelevant – you’re not calling about a credit card, you’re calling to reset your PIN. Be wary of transforming your customer-service agents into hawkers spilling the same company line. You can create better sales channels for that. 7. Your customer service focus is speed. If your number one concern is getting through long lines of phone calls, you have two problems: first, you probably have too many angry people calling in; second, your agents are probably more concerned with quickly solving a problem than actually hearing out your customers’ concerns. What would you rather have: a high-quality but slow-speed response to a problem, or a quick and sloppy response? The latter, by the way, also comes with the bonus of problems potentially not being fixed, meaning the customer will just call back again – this time angrier than before. 8. Your customer service agents have no authority. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: let’s say you’ve been overcharged. You call a product’s customer service hotline, and ask for a refund. The agent tells you they can’t offer refunds, and put you on hold – for another 10 minutes, after you’ve already waited 20 – to speak with a manager. Even if this exact scenario hasn’t happened to you, something similar almost certainly has. Agents require authority to do their jobs well. More than that, authority will inspire them to be better workers. Generally, the more empowered employees feel, the more dedicated to the company they will be. Give them the freedom to make one-on-one decisions with customers, and they will be more likely to please others as well as themselves. 9. Your agents hate their job. A side effect to the above worst-case scenario, as mentioned, is that your employees will probably resent both you and their jobs if they’re trapped in a specific role with little control or input. But that’s not the only reason they might hate their jobs. Customer service has long been a derided industry – reps often have to listen to people get angry all day. It’s a tough job, and one that can grind pretty hard on the best of employees. Counteract this with creating a supportive, grateful work environment. Make things bright, fun and rewarding. Motivate them. After all, if they genuinely love your company, they’ll be far more likely to win over your customers.