Top customer service myths debunked

They might not involve dragons, dark magic or fabled weapons, but customer service myths still present their fair share of danger. And, just like the dragons of legend, customer service myths are difficult to displace.

You’ll find false customer service rubrics commonly spouted both on and offline. This would-be wisdom only perpetuates bad practices. And, while there is some truth seeded in each myth, their overall impact is debilitating.

So, here’s a list of the top customer service myths, the reality behind them, and what lessons they hold.

You should always strive to delight your customers

Myth: The best way to breed customer loyalty is to strive for customer delight. Delight equals satisfaction, and satisfaction equals loyalty. So, you should work to exceed every customer expectation, in every service interaction.

Reality: The truth behind the first of the customer service myths is the connection between loyalty and satisfaction. However, loyalty and delight don’t overlap as much as you might think. The problem is, creating customer delight and exceeding customer expectations is difficult. And it only gets harder the more you do it. Exceeding expectations is expensive, and when you consistently achieve it, you set a new level of customer expectations to break.

Key takeaways: You’re better off focusing efforts on meeting customer expectations, rather than prioritising customer delight. Managing the expectations of your customers is a key element to great customer service. It’s good to delight the occasional customer from time to time. But don’t make delight your entire service strategy.

You should focus on customer complaints

Myth: The second in the list of top customer service myths is a double whammy — it has two parts. First, the idea is that unhappy customers will always complain and give you a chance to fix the issue. Second, this means you should focus on handling complaints over other customer requests.

Reality: The truth behind this myth lies in the importance of handling complaints effectively. However, the myth puts too much importance on the role of complaints in creating great customer service. This myth is likely related to the service recovery paradox: the phenomenon of customers thinking more of a business that’s handled a complaint well, than they would if the complaint had never happened.

Unfortunately, only one out of 26 customers bother to complain when they’re dissatisfied. That’s a little over 3% of your unhappy customers. The rest simply churn. To make things worse, 13% of unhappy customers will tell 15+ people about their bad experience. So, no matter how good you are at complaint handling, you aren’t helping the 96% of customers that aren’t happy, but don’t complain.

Key takeaways: Superior customer service is about more than handling complaints. It’s far better to focus on doing everything you can to mitigate complaint-inducing problems. It can also help to proactively invite customers to chat and give you feedback. Demonstrating that you’re listening and care about customer views is a great step towards a better customer experience.

Service speed is the most important

Myth: The third of our top customer service myths sees emphasis placed on the speed of service. It suggests that, because we all hate to be kept waiting, and we’re all so busy, you should make speedy service a priority.

Reality: There is, in fact, a lot of truth to this myth. We hate to be held up, and our brains don’t like to be idle. However, while speed of service is important for customers, it’s more nuanced than serving as many customers as quickly as possible. As important as customer service speed is for a great customer service experience, it can’t come at the cost of the human touch or finding an effective solution to the problem.

An unhelpful, robotic service experience isn’t going to keep customers happy — no matter how fast it is. Plus, agents rushing through service interactions tends to make customers feel unappreciated and not listened to.

Key takeaways: Instead of prioritising service speed, prioritise efficiency. Don’t end the chat, call or correspondence before you solve the problem, and you’re sure the customer is happy. Also, consider that different channels have different expected response and service speed times.

The customer is always right

Myth: No matter the situation, agents can’t tell customers they’re wrong, and service should always be customer-centric. If the customer says something is wrong, agents are supposed to fix it without question. The myth is used to assure customers they’ll get great service and convince agents to give that service. After all, we like knowing we’re right.

Reality: As noble as ‘the customer is always right’ myth may seem, it’s damaging to your customer service teams. It assumes that all customers are honest, rather than recognising that some customers aren’t, and will try to get extra from you.

In fact, ‘the customer is always right’ is perhaps one of the most damaging customer service myths on this list. Not only can it be costly to implement, it makes your employees unhappy, which hurts customer service.

Key takeaways: Your agents need to be respected and looked after to give great customer service. They’re on the front lines, and if they aren’t happy, they won’t be invested in giving great service. Sometimes, customers are wrong or abusive. That simple truth needs to be recognised. When you’re looking out for your agents, they won’t need to, and can look out for the customer instead.

Customer service myths

All these customer service myths share a common factor: they promote prioritising just one aspect of customer service. But great customer service is more than a few myths and tricks.

Great customer service isn’t just about delight, complaint management, speed or who’s ‘right’. Instead, great customer service is a balance between every one of these factors, and countless others.

So, keep the myths in the storybooks, and away from your service frontlines.

Useful links

3 simple steps to boost live chat customer satisfaction

Meeting the need for customer service speed

When chatters attack: dealing with abusive customers