8 Customer Service Challenges Harming Your Bottom Line [+ How to Conquer Them]
Everyone's been there, facing disturbing customer service challenges. But if you'd like to conquer them, this article is the right piece to read. Take a look - we share experts' opinions on the topic!
Written by Olesia Melnichenko
Our life is a challenge from the offset. First, we learn how to crawl and walk. Then, it’s time to socialize with other kids in kindergarten and school where we fight for a place in the sun. For some, this may be an early bumpy ride already.
After that, the rocky road with studying in university/college or getting a job starts. Here is when the challenge becomes even more remarkable.
Every job and position has its own hardships. But rarely do they find their solution. The competition is rough, people are more demanding than ever, and nerves are not something to be fixed in a day.
Today, we talk about customer service challenges and how to overcome them. How to behave when there’s a tumbleweed in your head while speaking to a client or what to say when your product or service suddenly collapsed 🤷♀️ Buckle up: this is going to be fascinating!
8 tough customer service challenges (and their expert-based solutions)
The challenges faced by a customer service department are all over the map: banking, education, retail, etc. We looked into the matter deeper and interviewed experts from various industries. They shared their experience and lifehacks to stand up to those challenges.
Ready to dive in?
1. Stress-inducing ticket overflow
This must be the most widely spread customer service challenge. Clients’ messages are flooding your inbox, your blood pressure is rising, and you are about to have a meltdown…Everyone has lived through it (especially when they are new to the job).
If you still think that you are in this alone, it’s not true! As Omer Usanmaz, CEO and Co-Founder of Qooper, says: “Heavy call volume and long customer queues can be a real challenge. And the stress it can bring to you is enormous. It’s hard to picture how you can accommodate all the customers at the soonest time possible.”
Such an influx of messages should be taken philosophically: customer messages will keep rising as your company grows. This is an axiom. If this scenario is not a rare case anymore, think why it’s still in place: poor product documentation, lame CRM system, or gaps in employee onboarding whatsoever. Luckily, we know how to overcome this challenge.
💡 The solution
Contrary to popular belief, this challenge could appear if your company has an omnichannel approach. And here are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, Jonathan Prichard, Founder and CEO of Mattress Insider, thinks that omnichannel = overload and it’s “difficult for customer service reps to prioritize channels and keep conversations organized”.
On the other hand, according to Omer from Qooper, to tackle this challenge, you need to “take it one customer at a time. If it’s really overwhelming, you can focus on just responding to each one rather than resolving all the cases. Give the resolution a deadline and tell them. If you switch your focus to responding, the customers can get the quick response that they expect and you give yourself time to resolve their problems.”
We at HelpCrunch – a full-specter customer service platform – can help you do just that. That is why we provide an intuitive shared inbox to cure that. This is where all your messages from social media, chatbot, live chat, or email pile up in chronological order, without being chaotically mixed. Now, customer service guys can clearly see and process every request.
2. Lack of proper software
Try implementing customer service without an adequate piece of software. It would be a waste of energy (if not more). With the right tools, though, you can:
- Handle incoming customer queries with structure and consistency in mind;
- Use automation to simplify the working drill;
- Understand the target audience better.
This list can go and on!
Daniel Thompson, Co-founder of Salt Water Digital, describes one of the top customer service challenges: “When your customer service representatives do not have the tools they need to meet your customers wherever they are, the support process becomes slow and can be frustrating. For example, siloed customer information means that visitors must wait while an agent searches for basic information. Worse, the customer must keep repeating the same information.”
💡 The solution
Before you start powering through this challenge faced by a customer service department, remember not to spread yourself too thin. Well, at least when you’re early in the game. For instance, do not adopt phone support just because your major competitor does it. This won’t work for your benefit.
What you should do instead is select the most appropriate tools and channels that will help you achieve your business goals. For instance, if your aim is to focus on customer self-service, offer a knowledge base integrated into the chat widget.
For lead generation or sales, you might want to go for a smart chatbot or pre-chat live chat forms. If we speak about customer engagement, choose email marketing software with robust functionalities (sending newsletters, promoting your special offers, etc.)
3. False anticipation of customer expectations
All people are different, with their own opinions, behavior, and pain points. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ubiquitous potion for catching each client’s anticipation. But if you know a one-size-fits-all recipe, please, do tell! 😁
Seriously though, over the past few years, foreseeing what a client has in mind got complicated. Modern customers want proactive service, data protection, personalized interactions, and coherent experiences across all digital channels. To put it bluntly, outguessing a customer’s next move is like a game of chess or even a battlefield – you have to keep your stick on the ice!
Zach Goldstein (he/him), CEO & Founder of Public Rec, ruminates on addressing this customer service challenge. “Managing customer expectations is challenging because the online environment can be complex and ever-changing. Customers may have different expectations around delivery times, product availability, and return policies, among other factors.”
💡 The solution
Challenges of customer service shouldn’t be above your station. Zach says that to stand to this specific challenge, you should “invest in technology and tools that help to manage customer interactions. Brands may implement chatbots or VAs to answer common customer queries, use social media monitoring tools to stay on top of customer feedback, or invest in customer relationship management software to track interactions and ensure that customer needs are met consistently.”
We at HelpCrunch have too developed a certain pattern for anticipating customer expectations (and enjoying them!). Here comes our recipe for success:
- Collect customer feedback: monitor everything from chat logs to your account on dedicated review platforms.
- Concentrate on details: if you think that improving your onboarding process is a trifle, do it anyway! Every detail matters.
- Be a step ahead: have you had that ChatGPT first among your competition? Well done! Make sure you have a bash at revolutionary tech in the niche, new buzzes, etc.
4. Gaps in company (product) knowledge
Being really involved with customer service myself, I became more demanding of businesses than ever. So let me tell you a quick backstory.
I learn Spanish via an online app and wanted to make changes to my account. Everything was fine till the moment I realized that all my progress vanished. Just like that, out of the blue. After describing the issue to a customer service rep, all I heard was “Well, I am sorry, I have no idea what’s happening. It might be some glitch in the product” 🤷♀️
The bottom line is that customers won’t wait for the sun to shine when they discover gaps in products or services. And if a customer support team doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on within a company, there’s miscommunication between marketing, the devs team, and support, and the reputation of this brand might go south.
💡 The solution
As displeasing as it may sound, you should remember that honesty – is the best policy. In my case, the customer service agent could have said they the product had been downgraded/there were errors in the development process/my account was outdated/etc. Anything that wouldn’t have sounded too “back-off-I-do-not-want-to-talk-to-you”.
If you keep receiving such feedback, take notice and eliminate these scenarios down the road. Plus, follow up via email, chat, or phone telling them that the feature in question is being investigated further so there is no need to worry about it. This is what shapes the whole brand image and prevents the crisis.
5. Language barriers
When it comes to customer service, language barriers become a thorn in the flesh. They often lead to miscommunication, frustration, and overall dissatisfaction among clients. Dealing with a client who doesn’t speak your tongue is like exploring uncharted waters – you never know what is going to happen.
How to overcome one of the biggest challenges in customer service? Read on.
💡 The solution
David Reid, Sales Director at VEM Tooling, says that “dealing with language hurdles can be difficult, especially if customers have hearing or speech difficulties or speak a different language.” His advice is to “adopt translation software or employ bilingual employees to assist consumers who speak a foreign language.” Which is a completely understandable cookie-cutter!
However, there is something you might want to use to kill two birds with one stone – a multilingual knowledge base. Having such a tool is like having a Swiss Army knife in your customer service arsenal. Thanks to it, you can resolve foreign customer queries with ease and precision. So why go for monolingual support when you can have your cake and eat it too? 🍰
While we are at it, look at how the HelpCrunch knowledge base can crack that language barrier challenge for you. Just add translations for articles and voilá!
6. Toxic customers
Ooh, does this customer service challenge send goosebumps down your spine? I mean, mine felt them just fine! The thing is that dealing with difficult customers requires a hell of discipline, nerves, and a pinch of humor (nothing goes without it).
The numbers tell everything vividly: 60% of employees would quit if a toxic customer crosses their path. So, you face an angry client. Your move? I would say that the greatest challenge is keeping your temper in check. Even though it might be a tough call. But it takes practice – after 2-3 times, you will feel like that toxic Jane or John Doe is just yet another person who has a bad day.
Iryna Haida, a Head of Sales and Customer Support at Relokia and Help Desk Migration has put it perfectly. She says that “there’s the challenge of engaging with difficult customers. This requires customer service professionals to have emotional intelligence as well as excellent interpersonal skills to de-escalate any tensions and ensure customers feel seen and heard.”
💡 The solution
Our Head of Customer Service Konstantine has a rather drastic but valid method for this challenge. He always says that the only way of treating an angry/offensive/inadequate client is to leave them go. Of course, after showing a minimal sense of empathy and courtesy (it IS a client, though, so you have to keep the face).
Plus, the HelpCrunch team has canned responses at its fingertips. As a quick side note, these are pre-written responses that you can use in miscellaneous situations, including when speaking to a snaky customer. You can even create one in Gmail!
Iryna from Relokia and Help Desk Migration offers her recipe for handling this challenge of customer service: “Having a customer-centered approach and creating a culture that values customer satisfaction are key. It’s also important to create a knowledge base, wherein customer service practitioners can access resources to quickly address customers’ inquiries. Additionally, empowering customer service professionals with the autonomy to make decisions will ensure customers receive the best possible service.”
And I totally agree with Iryna on this one. A knowledge base or a corporate wiki that operates like a well-oiled machine could be your boon. You can even be one jump ahead and write an article on how to interact with ill-favored clientele. It could go with your employee onboarding docs too (make room for a special “Challenges of customer service representatives” guidance there).
7. Burnout among employees
We are all well aware of how fire spreads out – even if the spark starts small, it can eventually absorb the rest in its path. The same applies to employee burnout.
What causes this one of the most “flammable” customer service challenges? 👇
- Unfair treatment at the workplace
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of breaks
- Unclear communication with managers
- Deadlines pressure
Sadly, not all people could suppress this customer service challenge. According to statistics, 89% of employees are prone to workplace burnout and 70% of them say they would quit because of it.
Tom Miller, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at FitnessVolt, shares his thoughts on the matter. “Employee burnout and a high turnover rate are two factors that can severely affect a company’s overall customer service experience. Continually dealing with customer service difficulties and demanding customers is one of the leading causes of both of these factors.”
I could say that drinking camomile and herbal tea would be a cure-all but it would be a lie. Read on to find out an effective solution and prevent your crew from burning out.
💡 The solution
It all depends on the business owner. The way they treat their employees influences their “workplace” health.
First, consider hiring dedicated corporate therapists to carry out sessions on a regular basis.
Second, distribute the tasks among your coworkers so that they wouldn’t feel bogged down. You might want to implement some team collaboration tools such as Trello, Notion, or alike – they would help them track team performance and act if need be.
To plant an idea, here is an interview with NBC medical correspondent Dr. John Torres explaining all the ins and outs of burnout and how to cope with it:
8. Negative feedback
Do you remember yourself in your early years? How did you react to a not-so-positive customer review/feedback/complaint? I bet you would take it in the bad part.
The truth is acknowledging and processing negative feedback is one of the most common customer service challenges. For instance, 1 out of 3 businesses thinks that bad social media comment is a threat to their reputation. At the same time, a 5-star review is considered “too good to be true” and is viewed with skepticism so much so that 82% of shoppers specifically look for negative reviews.
Michael Chepurnyak, Founder and CEO at Ein-des-ein claims that the gist of this challenge for, let’s say, an app development agency is “to address the problem quickly and effectively. The first step in addressing any technical issue is understanding what’s causing it i.e. to gather more information about when and how frequently the crashes occur + relevant details such as device type or OS version. Once the problem has been identified, the agency needs to communicate with the client to keep them informed about progress toward a solution.”
💡 The solution
I can tell from the experience that the perfect way of beating any negative client feedback/review is by being proactive. This means showing initiative, anticipating customers’ pain points/moods, and preventing them.
As explained by Michael, a business should “be honest with clients about what they’re doing to address issues without making unrealistic promises. A nice bonus like a free consultation or a corporate present sent to the client’s office would be a nice gesture in this situation too.” This is the approach that could work like a charm!
Let me also share this quick cheat sheet with you so that you can act promptly to any challenges of a customer service representative:
✅ Listen to a customer (or read their review)
✅ Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
✅ Ask them questions
✅ Do not try to convince them otherwise
✅ Offer an incentive to make amends or smooth waters
Are you ready to face and conquer the challenges?
As you can guess, the same challenges faced in customer service show up in different business spheres. We hope that you could relate to them while reading this material. And look how many people are on the same journey as you!
Can your customer service team address those calls? I am sure it can! But with decent software up your sleeves. Let me nudge you a little: HelpCrunch will obviously support you in your struggle with its impressive toolkit. Just take a step forward and sign up for free! 🚶♂️