11 Worst Digital Customer Service Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

Chris Thomas
May 4, 2021
Read time:
10
Minutes
Chris Thomas

Even if you’re committed to offering the best digital customer service possible, there’s a number of pitfalls you can face. 


So, how do you make sure you’re keeping your website customers smiling? How do you make sure they remain loyal? 


By avoiding the most common online customer service mistakes. Take a look and see where your business is going wrong. 

What is digital customer service? 

A crucial part of the online customer experience, digital customer service concerns the assistance you provide your customers via digital channels. Like traditional customer service, digital customer service can be offered both pre- and post-purchase. 


Examples of digital customer service channels include email, live chat, video chat, social media messaging, and many more. 

Why is digital customer service important? 

As the online equivalent of traditional customer service, digital customer service is important for much the same reasons as its offline counterpart: it can increase customer satisfaction, sales and retention. In fact, 89% of customers are more likely to make another purchase after enjoying a positive customer service. 


Conversely, poor customer service has been proven to turn buyers away from companies, limiting profits and damaging company reputations. The same is true of poor digital customer service.


While 81% of customers will share bad examples of traditional customer service with their friends and family, poor digital customer service experiences are regularly published online for all to see. 


It means thousands of would-be customers might be turning away from your business before you’ve had a chance to make a good impression. Just take a look at some of the reviews listed below. Would you want these kinds of reviews for your business? 

The 11 worst digital customer service mistakes

Take a look at these digital customer service mistakes. Are you guilty of any of these customer service sins?

1. Ignoring customers 

No business makes it their official policy to ignore their customers, yet this digital customer service mistake still happens far too often - whether accidentally or through sheer carelessness.


Either way, making this kind of error can lead to dire results. Businesses who routinely ignore customer queries through their website and social media channels can expect a drastic drop in their customer satisfaction. In turn, customer relations will suffer too, damaging customer engagement and, ultimately, your sales and retention. 

To combat the possibility that you’re leaving customers ignored, make sure you analyse your contact channels’ efficiency and adopt processes to ensure you’re always replying to your customers. 


You can even use website engagement tools to avoid this kind of mistake in the future. For instance, with social media listening tools, you’ll be notified about comments your customers leave online - even if they don’t tag your handle or your company name. It’ll help you rectify the situation fast. 

2. Rudeness

This second digital customer service sin is arguably worse than the first. While it might go without saying that you should never be rude to your customers, nobody is perfect. Mistakes can easily be made. 


But with 82% of customers citing friendly contact centre agents as an important aspect of the customer service experience, trying to justify rude behaviour simply won’t do. 

The best way to combat this issue is to make sure contact centre agents are well trained and know how to diffuse customer tension.


By making a commitment in this area, you’ll not only ensure that you’re always treating your customers with respect, you’ll also know your contact centre agents are confident and well-supported. As Simon Sinek suggests, ‘customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.’ 

3. Keeping customers waiting in the dark

With 60% of customers stating that waiting is the most frustrating part of customer service, it's clear that overly long waiting periods are never ideal. Unfortunately, they're also unavoidable at times.

Even so, what turns a long wait into a digital customer service sin is keeping customers in the dark. If they find the wait frustrating, a lack of updates is only going to make things worse.  


The reason for this frustration is understandable. When purchasing a product or service online, customers often need more assurance than if they were buying from a brick and mortar location. 


After all, a queue in a real life store is much more tangible than a queue for a live chat interaction or the wait for a delivery to arrive. 


This is why more and more retailers are making use of ecommerce chatbots and trackers to keep their online customers up to date. 

The good news is that this digital customer service mistake can be fixed with a few key improvements. 


  1. Prioritize faster response times by offering more contact channels and leveraging self-service. 
  2. Don’t make promises on delivery or resolution times that you can’t keep. 
  3. Keep your customers up to date as much as possible - whether it’s good news or bad.


While the first two improvements can take a little more time to put in place, this last tip can help you improve your digital customer service straight away. By remaining honest and transparent with your customers, you’re proving your integrity and dedication to solving your customers’ problems. Even if they are still a little frustrated, think how annoyed they’d be with no update whatsoever. 

4. Assuming one contact channel is enough

Different customers have different contact channel preferences. While offering traditional phone support might work for some, others will want to talk with your company solely through online means. 


For instance, Millennials and Gen Z prefer email and social media channels respectively. So imagine trying to target these demographics while only offering customer service over the phone. It would quickly frustrate your customers.  

The best way to tackle this kind of digital customer service mistake is to adopt an omnichannel approach to your online presence. 


For example, for customers with a simple query, you can install a chatbot that can assist them quickly and efficiently. For more in-depth questions or discussions, you can escalate to live chat. 


You might even offer web calling or video chat for customers who’d prefer a more personalised touch. 


By offering as many sustainable contact channels as possible, you’re proving to your customers that you’re offering maximum accessibility as part of their customer experience. It means they’ll always deem you as a helpful and communicative brand. 


What’s more, an omnichannel approach is the best solution to the following digital customer service mistake too. 

5. Bouncing customers around

Bouncing customers between contact channels is one of the most frustrating challenges customers face. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence: only 20% of companies solve a customers’ query during first contact.  


You might’ve experienced this digital customer service mistake yourself. If you’ve ever called a company up with an issue, only to be told to email them instead, it can feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back. 


Nevertheless, the problem is understandable from both sides of the interaction. While customers will always prefer to have their issues solved on the spot, contact agents sometimes need to change contact channels to fully understand the customer’s problem. 

In our previous example, we looked at how companies with an omnichannel approach can avoid this digital customer service pain-point. 


Rather than bouncing customers from channel to channel, an omnichannel customer service platform allows agents to deal with a variety of channels within a single pane of glass. 


This approach also allows agents to escalate customer interactions to different channels in the same session. It means that customers always deal with the same agent. 


By making sure that customers never have to start from scratch with a new team member, customer tension is soothed. Their problems can be solved within one contact session. They’ll no longer feel like they’re running around in circles just to get your attention. 

6. Getting the tone wrong

While this digital customer service mistake is most often committed via social media comments, speaking in the wrong tone to your customers can happen over any contact channel. 


For instance, when customers are denied a request with a casual and unapologetic tone, 78% are dissatisfied with the service they receive. Dissatisfaction dramatically decreases if they’re spoken to with a more apologetic tone. 


Like speaking rudely to your customers, getting the tone wrong during a customer service interaction is never a good idea. While you might think making a joke with your customers will ease the conversation and create empathy, you need to make sure you never cross the line. 

The best approach is to encourage your contact agents to use humour sparingly. This is not to say that agents can’t be light-hearted at times, but they should always remain polite and professional. 


The goal is to solve the customer’s issue, not to make them laugh. You’d be much wiser trying to make them smile with stellar customer service, saving the jokes for your social media feed - so long as you keep them wholesome and on-brand!

7. Not asking for feedback

One of the best ways you can improve your digital customer service overall is by asking for feedback. 


A staggering 91% of customers leave a business without letting the business know why. That’s a huge number of customers who might’ve remained loyal had they had the chance to express their views. 


What’s more, 77% of customers view brands who ask for feedback more favourably. Yet not enough businesses make the most of their customers’ views. 

To avoid this digital customer service mistake, take the advantage over your competitors by reaching out to your customers. Prove to them that you’re listening. 


It’s incredibly easy to do. Simply make use of the dozens of feedback and survey tools available online. Any negative feedback you gather can help you make vital improvements that’ll keep customers loyal. 


There’s more added bonuses too: by asking for feedback, you’ll be proving to your customers that you appreciate their opinions, leading to an increase in customer engagement. Any positive feedback gathered can also be used for testimonials - another great reason to make the most of your customers’ insights and opinions.  

8. Neglecting self-service

This digital customer service mistake can cause a lot of frustration for contact agents and customers alike. By neglecting self-service options for your customers, your contact agents will suffer under the strain of an overly heavy workload. 


What’s more, some customers will get annoyed that they have to get in touch when they know full well they could solve the issue themselves. 


With the use of self-service resources up by 80%, most customers are now well-versed in seeking out guidance online. You just want to make sure they’re looking to your resources, not your competitors’. 


Fortunately, there’s a very simple fix to turn this mistake into a digital customer service win. Start by analysing your customer journey. 


By locating the pain-points your customers experience on your site, you can start to develop a list of what self-service support information you need to provide up front. That way, you can start offering your customers the chance to resolve issues for themselves. 


Chatbots, FAQ pages, and explainer videos are great places to start, but that’s not to say they can replace all of your digital customer service strategies. 


Instead, tools like these can compliment your primary contact channels to make sure your customers are only getting in touch once they’ve explored all the resources on offer. It’ll mean more customers are able to solve their own problems quicker, which means less strain on your staff. It’s a win-win. 

9. Impersonal responses

63% of customers have stopped purchasing products or services due to poor personalisation. So while this digital customer service mistake might not seem like the worst sin on the list, in terms of customer retention, it can easily prove the last straw.


Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example. Say a customer has ordered an item online and has been faced with a delayed delivery. They don’t receive any updates, and when they do get in touch, they are bounced from channel to channel. 


Finally, they are told to email the customer service department, only to receive an impersonal response that neither addresses their problem, or even their name. The email simply asks them to be patient - ‘We’ll get back in touch with you as soon as we can!’ 


How likely is it that this customer will go on to buy from this company again? According to research, not likely: 85% of customers go elsewhere because of poor customer service that they deemed ‘easily preventable’. If using a customer’s name isn’t easy enough, we don’t know what is! 

Either way, this digital customer service mistake is often a result of overstretched customer service teams and poor company processes. To make sure you’re not committing the same mistakes, there’s a few things you can do. 


When speaking to customers via email, make sure your team always responds personally, politely, and professionally. If you use automated email software for acknowledgement emails, make sure your system is set up to respond with your customers’ names. 


On the social media front, if you’re facing a large amount of queries, it might be tempting to use canned responses when speaking with customers. The same temptation might also arise when using digital customer service tools like live chat. 


Even so, if you are going to use these kinds of templates, it’s best to take the time to personalise them for each use. By acknowledging your customer by name, you’re showing them respect up front. It’ll make the following interactions all the smoother. 

10. Showing no appreciation

91% of customers said they are more likely to buy from brands that show appreciation for their business. So if you ever find yourself cleaning up after a digital customer service disaster, one way to rectify the situation is to show your customers true appreciation. 


If a customer has already experienced problems with your product or service, they already feel short-changed. Don’t add insult to injury by taking their patience for granted. In fact, it’s on occasions like these where you should strive to demonstrate stellar customer service. 

If you’re making up for a mistake, offer a sincere apology. Discounts and free gifts work great too. 


You should also thank these customers for their business like you would with any other customer. After all, saying thank you is the polite thing to do, and an expression of gratitude can go a long way to perfecting a great customer experience.   


Ultimately, the world is your oyster when it comes to showing your appreciation to customers. All you need is a little imagination to take your digital customer service to the next level. 

11. Failing to improve

When it comes to the digital customer service mistakes that are the most damaging, this final entry on our list might be the worst sin of all. 


After all, with 1 in 3 formerly loyal customers turning away from a business following a bad experience, you don’t want to risk annoying the customer base that remains. Even if these customers do put their trust in your company again, they aren’t likely to stick around if they suffer another bad experience. 

The good news is that with effort, your digital customer service strategies can be improved quicker than you think... 

How can digital customer service be improved? 

There we have it, the 11 worst digital customer service mistakes you can make. And, more importantly, avoid!


After all, offering great digital customer service is a continuous process. It’s never too late to take advantage of the great perks that fantastic customer service has to offer. To get started, simply review the following pointers. 


  1. Always acknowledge customer queries.
  2. Always remain polite.
  3. Update your customers - even if it’s bad news.
  4. Use an omnichannel approach.
  5. Don’t bounce customers from channel to channel.
  6. Use the right tone.  
  7. Ask for feedback.
  8. Offer self-service.
  9. Personalise your responses.
  10. Show appreciation.
  11. Prioritize improvement.


Which digital customer service strategies do you think are most important? 


Chris Thomas
WRITTEN BY
Chris Thomas
Content Marketer
Customer Service
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