5 Common customer nightmares: the first signs of bigger problems


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Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. That’s one of Bill Gates’ little gems – and we agree wholeheartedly with him. However, too few companies take the time to probe complaints, and then actively make changes based on their findings.

Is it because of time constraints? Are their fractured departments to blame? Or do they lack clear processes for distributing feedback? Whatever the reasons, the customers are the ones to suffer. So, before you simply wave off your complaining customers with some kind of discount or standard apology, consider these common customer nightmares… and the way we’d interpret them.

1. The Subscription Cancellation Nightmare

WHAT THEY SAY: Why can’t I just cancel my subscription?!
WHAT THEY MEAN: Why do you make it so hard? It’s really simple! I want to love you, I do – but you just won’t let me, will you? I hate you! (And I’ll be sure to put that on Twitter, too.)

I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced this one at least once in your life. Previously we had to cancel subscriptions over the phone and listen to a robotic support agent rambling on about all the terms and conditions that basically committed us to a life sentence with that company. Nowadays, we’re managing our subscriptions online. But more often than not, that sneaky cancellation link seems harder to find than Santa Claus (or Sinterklaas, coming up in the Benelux in just a fortnight – excited kids everywhere).

Instead of erecting numerous roadblocks, companies should understand why motivation to use their product or service is decreasing all of a sudden. What the **** happened? Two possible answers:
a) Your customers’ original needs have changed, and they’re not aware of the other uses your product/service has to offer – uses that could convince them to stay. Monitor usage and keep your beloved customers engaged with helpful communications.
b) Your customers found a better alternative that’s either cheaper or more convenient. Where’s the added value you’re providing? People will pay extra for perceived benefits, so deliver what they find most beneficial and you won’t need to compete on price or location.

2. The ‘Has The World Gone Stupid?’ Nightmare

WHAT THEY SAY: Okay, that’s it. Can I please talk to the manager?
WHAT THEY MEAN: I’ve been repeating myself too many times, you never tell me anything I didn’t know already – you know what? **** you! (And I’ll be sure to put that on Twitter, too.)

Customer service complaints are a dime a dozen. Remember our piece on fast-food service? According to a Genesys survey, consumers go berserk waiting too long for service, repeating themselves over and over again, and having to get through representatives that lack the skills to answer their question. When you receive an escalated complaint, the first question you need to answer is: how could I have prevented this?

Perhaps you need to upskill your agents or improve forecasting and scheduling of support staff. Or maybe you need to provide intelligence fundamentals: searchable knowledge bases, customer records with the history of previous conversations, employee collaboration to share information quickly. (Hint: tools such as Casengo can help you with this. It’s not rocket science.) And do you already provide multiple channels for customers to flexibly get support in the method that works best for them? (You should. We no longer live in the 20th century. Just give Casengo a go.)

3. The Money Nightmare

WHAT THEY SAY: Uhm, there seems to be something wrong with my bill.
WHAT THEY MEAN: You overcharged me. Again. What’s wrong with you guys? I hate you! (And I’ll be sure to put that on Twitter, too.)

Sometimes additional charges mistakenly appear on a customer’s invoice. At times, the charges are warranted – but the naming on the invoice only makes sense to internal staff. Yet frequently enough, it’s money charged by companies employing fine-print tactics to extract more money from their customers. Instead of disputing the charges, consider changing the way costs are represented on the invoices you send to your customers, with clear categories and naming conventions so everyone can understand it. And offer up-front, clear advice on fees and charges. No more small print; respect your customers.

4. The Delivery Nightmare

WHAT THEY SAY: Where’s my stuff?
WHAT THEY MEAN: If you promise next-day delivery, deliver the next day! So why don’t you?! I hate you! (And I’ll be sure to put that on Twitter, too.)

A lot of online shops are great at indicating delivery time, or enabling people to track the shipment of their order. So when there’s a complaint about a delivery being late, it’s probably not just a confused customer. Look for the very source of the problem, which might be bigger than this single customer knows. Is your logistics company adhering to agreed SLAs? Or perhaps there’s a technical issue in the API call from your ordering system to the warehouse? Promoting next-day delivery is misleading if people don’t realize they have to select this option at the checkout and pay extra for it.

5. The Disappointment Nightmare

WHAT THEY SAY: This doesn’t seem to be what I ordered.
WHAT THEY MEAN: This product is disappointing! Why did you trick me? I hate you! (And I’ll be sure to put that on Twitter, too.)

Okay, a product or service can’t be everything to everybody. You can’t please them all. But if refund requests or complaints exceed the average, ask yourself whether you are perhaps setting wrong expectations for the product or service. Are your promotions not misleading, is the product/service description accurate, do all of your products/services reflect the brand image you’ve created? If not, change something – whether that’s the product, or the branding.

All too often, companies dismiss their customers’ complaints without a second thought, as long as the situation has been diffused. This is a valuable opportunity lost. Customers who take the time and effort to complain are far more interested in your company than the many, many more who didn’t voice their disapproval, but simply walked away. If they took the time to complain, you should take the time to investigate the root cause of their frustration.

Denise Parker
Denise Parker is marketing guru of Casengo. This social customer support software in the cloud helps companies to respond to their customers with greater ease and a human touch. Casengo, developed in Amsterdam, will be released to the public this Fall. You can register as a beta tester by leaving your email address on casengo.com.


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