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3 Common (& Avoidable) Customer Service Pitfalls That Destroy Your Customer Relationships

In a previous post I wrote about the biggest mistakes customers can make when contacting customer service departments to complain. In this post we look at the opposite side of the table. To be more specific, we'll take a look at three of the biggest mistakes companies make when responding to those customer service mishaps. 

Let's start by going back a little bit. When a customer has a problem, the first thing they will usually do is look for a 'contact us' form, or even better a 'complaint/feedback form'. All companies should have one of these and they should be extremely easy to find. Never make your customer work hard to get in contact with you or you will lose them for good through frustration. From the moment that customer hits 'send' on this form, they are scrutinizing every single action that company takes - their brain making the decision of whether to forgive and forget or banish the company from their life for good, while complementing that decision with a deadly plague of negative WOM.

So here's the really interesting part. A customer who has had a negative experience that is dealt with correctly is more likely to use the company again than a customer who had a satisfying experience to begin with. It may sound weird, but this 'complaint customer' undergoes a personal one on one interaction with the company, which if successful, creates a type of bond or relationship that makes them more likely to re-visit. They feel cared for and looked after. 

So, with that in mind here are three of the most frequently observed pitfalls and errors companies make in an effort to respond to their dissatisfied customers.


#1 The Robot Response

It happens all too often and the excuse is always the same - "our teams don't have enough time to respond individually to each and every complaint". Whilst there is an element of truth to that statement, there is NO EXCUSE for not making a 'standardized' response sound more personal. Companies should spend time and effort ensuring that their "streamlined responses" come across in a more personal and friendly manner, opposed to "meaningless robot speak". This really frustrates customers, especially customers who have spent years being loyalists and brand advocates. 

The fact of the matter is, the customer should always feel valued and with a little bit of clever thinking companies such as Graze, Cadbury's Chocolate and Virgin America have done a GREAT job at making their customer service replies seem much more individual to their customers. Basically, treat people like people.




#2 The "We Clearly Don't Care About You" Response

If you thought the first one was bad, this really takes the biscuit. Not only do you get a cyborg-robot corporate response that is absolutely meaningless, but the company then has the audacity to try and SELL YOU MORE.

If you have something like this at the end of your generic customer service emails, chances are its doing way more harm than good. Example: "Did you know that you can reserve rooms at a 20% discount by visiting With over 200 hotels across the country, we pride ourselves on giving you a comfortable nights sleep at a bargain price, don't miss our Summer Sale by clicking"

At this point in time the customer doesn't care about what deals you have going on or how many hotels you have, all they want is a justified response that will help them solve whatever issue they have. Adding pointless sales spiel to the end of your customer service emails is a big fat NO. Not only does it have the potential to tarnish the relationship you have with your customer, but it opens the door for your now ex-customer be able moan to their peers and social circles. "I made a complaint and instead of resolving the problem the company just told me I should buy more". Don't be on the receiving end of this - it can seriously damage your reputation. 



#3 The "Lets Just Add Them Anyway" Approach

How would you feel if you sent an email to a company through their 'Contact Us' section because of a negative experience you had encountered. Now imagine you are eagerly awaiting a response to get this issue sorted out when you see an email come through from the company. But wait, its not a response, no, its just a copy of their latest newsletter because they decided (illegally) to add you to their distribution list the moment you clicked "send now". Not a very smart thing for companies to do, firstly breaking the law and secondly, seriously annoying their (now ex) customers. This approach is a big no no as not only do you develop a poor reputation for yourself as a company but there have been numerous cases in the past where companies have actually been fined because a disgruntled customer happened to know the right person in the right place at CANSPAM. 


So, there you have it. Want to keep your customers happy and give them the respect they deserve? Simple. Make sure you aren't doing the above. Stayed tuned for a future post on examples of content you CAN use when sending somewhat generic emails to make your customers feel more valued. 

Until next time!