Top 10 CRM Tricks Guaranteed to Lose Customers

Best-practices articles are as dull to read as they are to write, columnist David Taber says. So here are 10 customer support system worst practices that are certain to derail customer satisfaction.

By David Taber
Thu, October 25, 2012

CIO — There's a ton of evidence supporting the business value of great customer support. It's not just a matter of happy customers and loyalty—a solid customer base can make a real difference to profitability and even stock price.

However, that's not to say you should overinvest in CRM technology for customer support and service. The technology alone doesn't make for happy customers. The devil is in the details—and if those details aren't done just right, you end up with unhappy campers.

As with marketing, much of the success of customer service depends upon subtlety and nuance. Here, then, is my top 10 list of customer support tricks that only end up corrupting customer satisfaction.

10: Set Up Really Deep IVR Navigation Trees

Life is complicated. So are the support functions of big businesses. Why not just expose all that organizational complexity directly to the customer? While you're at it, make sure to use internal jargon in the interactive voice response audio prompts. The customer will know exactly what you mean, and he won't forget the third option after listening to nine of them. Bonus points if you make it so customers can't jump back up the tree if they select the wrong option.

9: Make the Leaf Node of Your Navigation Tree a Line to Nowhere

After making users trudge through a Byzantine navigation tree and sit in the hold queue, connect them to a busy signal or voicemail box that's always full when their call has been addressed in the order that it was received. Instant insanity.

8: Go Purely Single Channel for Customer Support and Service

It may sound like a great idea to have customers go through the phone, the Web portal or email with equal ease, but wouldn't it be better to have everyone go through exactly the same channel, to ensure uniformity of service and the ultimate in measurability? Well, sure, as long as that one channel doesn't fail…and as long as the user likes using only that channel…and as long as you're not trying to get to a wide range of customers. This one is a pure loss.

Case Study: How Citibank Uses Twitter to Improve Customer Service

7: Use a Low-Quality Phone Line

Once you've spent all that money on ICDs, IVRs, predictive dialers and CRM, you're going to need to economize somewhere. I know: Let's use low-grade VoIP service and an overloaded router. The customer won't notice.

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