Conflicting Customer Service: Part 1 of 2

Misinformation in customer service is pretty common. It’s probably something you’ve experienced firsthand as well. You call a company and you’re told one thing by one representative. Then you call back a few days later and you’re told that what the first representative told you isn’t true. The service doesn’t work that way. It really costs more than that. The fee does apply to you.

When this happens, customers get frustrated. Being told something is one way by one person and then being told it is another way by another person is one of the most annoying things that a customer may have to deal with. So, as a company, how do you avoid situations like that where inaccurate, and often conflicting information, is given to a customer?

The first and most obvious suggestion is to not misrepresent the information in the first place. Consistently accurate information comes as a result of experience, training, and easy to access resources to verify information. Many customer service representatives like to assume an answer and tell a customer without really knowing or bothering to check.

Companies have to work very hard to strongly and actively discourage the giving of inaccurate information. Make complete accuracy a major quality standard, ensure that quality assurance people are noting the accuracy of the information, review phone calls and emails to ensure the information being given is correct. Let employees know when they give wrong information and take it seriously.

One way to ensure information is as accurate as possible is to ensure that employees have extremely easy access to accurate information. This means having an extensive internal knowledge base or wiki (that is reviewed reguaraly by supervisors / management) and a representative having plenty of people to ask in case he or she isn’t sure of something. An internal IM system, easy physical access to a supervisor, an internal chat room, etc. are all great ways to encourage that type of quick communication.

The supervisors or senior employees being asked should encourage employees to ask questions. If the answer is available in the knowledge base or wiki or on the company web site, that supervisor should let the customer service reprsentative know that and keep the interaction positive. Employees who are afraid to ask for help will usually resort to just making the answers up.

Last, but certainly not least, companies need to train well and train often. Accuracy usually comes from knowing the ropes. Employees starting at companies with good training programs typically start their “real work” knowing more than employees starting a companies with bad training programs. And training does not stop after the first month, either. Ongoing training will ensure that employees are kept up-to-date about the latest changes and updates and are able to provide the most accurate information. I talk about training a lot because it’s so important. Don’t underestimate it at all.

What have you done at your company to help ensure employees give the most accurate information? My next post will cover how to actually handle a situation where there was conflicting information given.

One Response to “Conflicting Customer Service: Part 1 of 2”

  1. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » Conflicting Customer Service: Part 2 of 2 said:

    Mar 11, 09 at 11:16 pm

    […] post focused on how to avoid situations in which different representatives will give conflicting information to your customers. […]