Customer Service Skills: Top 10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid

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Learning customer service skills is an important part of running a successful business. In fact, 93% of customers will buy again from companies with good customer service. (HubSpot)

Your customer experience plays a pivotal role in setting you apart from your competitors. It serves as the primary differentiator that can make or break your success.

As Jeff Bezos said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

In the digital era, there are many ways to improve customer service, such as learning business skills from online learning platforms. In this article, we will learn from industry leaders and customer service experts who have first-hand experience.

So, let’s dive right in and discover the wisdom shared by these seasoned professionals.

happy customer

10 Costly Customer Service Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Not Responding to Negative Reviews

Picture this: A customer has a bad experience with a company and leaves a negative review online. The company does not respond to the review, and the customer is left feeling ignored and frustrated.

"One of the worst mistakes a business can make is to send customers a survey about their experience and not respond appropriately. While it is great to receive a 5-star rating when you inquire, what are you doing when you receive a lower rating?"

Vince Burruano, President of Vince Burruano Consulting Services, LLC

Vince Burruano, President of Vince Burruano Consulting Services, LLC, shares his experience. Negative reviews are quickly escalated to a senior manager for review and resolution. The goal was to reach out to the customer immediately, acknowledging their feedback and asking how the business could make amends.

This proactive approach impressed their customers. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that their review was not ignored but rather taken seriously.

For Vince, a 5-minute phone call turned unhappy customers into loyal ones. Reaching out and showing genuine concern for their feedback had a powerful impact. It transformed their sentiment from never doing business again to confidently choosing the company in the future.

Tips to handle negative reviews:

  • Respond promptly to customer feedback, whether positive or negative, to demonstrate attentiveness and concern.
  • Take the time to understand the customer’s concerns and ask for suggestions on how to make amends or improve.
  • Empower frontline employees and managers with a Customer Feedback Tool, enabling them to address customer feedback and provide timely resolutions.
  • Use negative feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve internal processes.

Over-promising and Under-delivering

Over-promising and under-delivering is a common mistake that businesses make. It can be tempting to try to win over customers with promises of great service or products. However, this can backfire if the company is not able to meet those promises.

Harry Johns White, the marketing manager of NBAblast, provides advice based on his experience managing a sports website.

"Businesses should set realistic expectations, use customer data to personalize their interactions, and always follow up on complaints to ensure resolution."

Harry Johns White, Marketing Manager of NBAblast

Harry shared that NBAblast once failed to deliver on their promises during a promotional campaign. They have since learned to manage expectations and consistently over-deliver, which has led to increased customer trust and satisfaction.

More tips to avoid over-promising and under-delivering:

  • Before making any promises to customers, it is important to be clear about what your company is capable of.
  • Be transparent about your company’s limitations. 
  • Set realistic deadlines.

Keeping Customers Waiting

Businesses operating globally face time zone differences when handling customer inquiries and support requests. These differences can slow down assistance and make customers feel frustrated and ignored.

Here’s a piece of expert advice from Abner Miller, the Founder of Starlinkhow:

"It's a common mistake in customer service for companies to say they offer support around the clock but fail to deliver. The easiest way to avoid this is to join forces with an automated assistant and your support staff. This way, your agents won't be as inundated with inquiries, but your customers will still receive prompt service whenever they reach out."

Abner Miller, Founder of Starlinkhow

According to Abner, time zone differences can make it difficult for companies to provide immediate support to customers. This can lead to customer frustration and lost loyalty. Companies should have a plan in place to ensure that they can provide support to customers 24/7.

Tips to ensure continuous customer support:

  • Use a variety of communication channels to reach customers, such as phone, email, chat, and social media.
  • Train your customer service representatives to be empathetic and understanding. 
  • Make sure that your customer service representatives have access to the information they need to resolve customer issues quickly and accurately.

Failing to Keep Pace with Customer Behaviors and Technological Advancements

Businesses that fail to keep pace with the rapidly evolving customer behaviors and technological advancements risk losing touch with their customers. This can lead to decreased customer satisfaction, reduced customer loyalty, and financial losses.

Kacper Rafalski, Demand Generation Team Leader at Netguru, shares his insights and advice on this matter:

"In a world where customers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and expect businesses to meet them where they are, it's critical for businesses to adapt and evolve. My strategy for combating this inertia is threefold: awareness, adaptation, and anticipation."

Kacper Rafalski, Demand Generation Team Leader at Netguru

Here’s Kacper’s threefold strategy for keeping pace with customer behaviors and technological advancements:

  • Awareness: Stay abreast of your customers’ changing behaviors and preferences. Regularly update your customer personas, conduct frequent surveys, and keep a finger on the pulse of your target audience.
  • Adaptation: Adapt to the latest technological innovations. Invest in new platforms and tools that can help enhance your customer service delivery.
  • Anticipation: Anticipate your customers’ needs and wants. Don’t just react; be proactive. Strive to meet your customers’ needs before they voice them.

To drive innovation and creativity is one of the most important customer service skills. This means being willing to think outside the box and come up with new and creative ways to solve customer problems. It also means being open to new ideas and suggestions from customers.

Lack of Transparency

Great customer service is about being honest and upfront with your customers, even when things go wrong. It’s about communicating openly about what’s happening. It’s about being willing to go the extra mile to make sure your customers are happy.

Mariusz Baran, the owner of We Clear Everything, shares valuable insights on transparency in customer service.

"I consistently advocate for a policy of 'open book' communication. Transparency should be the cornerstone of your customer service philosophy. It's essential to communicate with your customers clearly and straightforwardly about costs, potential issues, and possible solutions right from the start. The process might seem challenging initially, but the rewards are worth the efforts."

Mariusz Baran, Owner of We Clear Everything

Mariusz Baran has encountered numerous instances where hidden costs, unexpected delays, or unanticipated challenges have blindsided clients. These things can hurt the trust between the customer and the business. It can also hurt the company’s reputation.

Tips for avoiding a lack of transparency in customer service:

  • Be upfront about your pricing, and don’t hide any fees.
  • Communicate openly about potential issues. 
  • Be clear about possible solutions. If there is a problem, offer your customers clear and concise solutions.
  • Be honest if you cannot solve their problem, and explain what you are doing to try to resolve it.

Treating Customer Service as a Cost Rather Than an Investment

When companies care more about saving money than making customer service better, it hurts how well they interact with customers. They don’t give enough resources to customer service reps, so the team doesn’t get proper training. This means they don’t have the right skills and knowledge to give great service.

Elizabeth Pharo, the CEO of, believes it’s important for companies to change how they think about customer service.

"Companies need to rethink their perception of customer service. It should be seen not as a cost point but as a pivotal part of the company's wider business agenda. There should be an investment in routine, in-depth training to furnish the team with the required skills for delivering superior service. Create a culture that values every customer interaction because each one represents an opportunity to reinforce the brand and its values."

Elizabeth Pharo, CEO of

Tips on how companies can invest in customer service:

  • Make sure that customer service is a top priority for your company. This means setting clear goals and objectives for customer service and allocating the necessary resources to achieve them.
  • Invest in training your customer service team. This training should cover everything from basic customer service skills to the specific needs of your industry.
  • Invest in technology to improve your customer service. There are a number of software solutions that can help you to automate tasks, track customer interactions, and provide better support.

No Multiple Channel Support

Customers today want to be able to contact customer support through the channel that is most convenient for them. This could be through a chatbot, live chat, email, social media, or even a phone call.

Josh Pelletier, the Chief Marketing Officer of BarBend, says that a customer should not be coerced into using a channel that is less convenient for them. He explains that the ability to provide outstanding service across all channels is a key advantage of an omnichannel approach.

"Customers will have a better overall experience if you're present on several channels. You can expect a higher resolution rate and simplify the customer experience by providing omnichannel help. By accommodating them in their preferred medium, they might become a fertile source of new leads for your company."

Josh Pelletier, Chief Marketing Officer of BarBend

Here are some tips for businesses that want to provide support for all channels:

  • Use social media to engage with customers and answer their questions. 
  • Make sure that your customer support team is trained to use all of the channels that you offer. 
  • Use technology to automate tasks and make it easier for customers to get help. 
  • Make sure that you are responding to customer inquiries in a timely manner.

Debating With Clients

Imagine a situation where a person asks a company for help with a problem they have. But instead of getting helpful support, the company argues with them and blames them for the problem.

Marie Littlewood, director at NSI, says that one of the biggest mistakes businesses make is being combative or debating with clients.

"It is poor customer service to attempt to defend your company's errors and problems. When something goes wrong, agents need to take ownership of the situation and not place the blame on the client. The priority is dealing with the consumer to address their issue, not defending the business."

Marie Littlewood, Director at NSI

Here are some tips to avoid debating with clients:

  • Take ownership of the situation. When something goes wrong, don’t try to blame the client. Instead, apologize for the inconvenience and let the client know that you are committed to resolving the issue.
  • Don’t interrupt the client or try to argue with them. Instead, listen carefully to what they have to say and try to understand their point of view.
  • Offer a solution. Once you have listened to the client’s concerns, offer a solution that is fair and reasonable. If you cannot offer a solution immediately, let the client know that you will get back to them ASAP.
  • Be polite and professional. Even if the client is upset, it is important to remain polite and professional. In addition, use positive language. This will help to de-escalate the situation and make it more likely that the issue will be resolved to the client’s satisfaction.

In some cases, it may be necessary to take action against a customer who is being rude or abusive. However, it is important to do so in a way that is legal, professional, and respectful.

Being Too Friendly or Nice

Sometimes, customer service representatives try really hard to impress customers. They might give too much information or be overly nice. This can make customers feel like the representative is not sincere, and they might not trust them.

Here’s Amelia Thomas, the Head of Marketing at FlexiPCB, sharing her thoughts on this topic:

"While customer service representatives need to be polite and helpful, trying too hard to impress customers can backfire. Overloading customers with excessive information or being overly nice may come across as ingenuine and can lead to a lack of trust. Some representatives might feel compelled to share personal stories or engage in lengthy conversations to establish customer rapport. However, this can result in extended call times and may not necessarily address the customer's needs."

Amelia Thomas, Head of Marketing at FlexiPCB

Amelia says customer service reps should focus on being genuine and provide only the information requested by the customer. By balancing friendliness and efficiency, representatives can build trust while effectively resolving customer issues.

Here are some tips for customer service representatives who want to avoid being too nice:

  • Be genuine. Customers can spot a fake from a mile away. So, it’s important to be genuine and authentic in your interactions with them.
  • Be efficient. Don’t waste the customer’s time with excessive information or lengthy conversations. Get to the point and focus on resolving the customer’s issue.
  • Be respectful. Even if the customer is upset, it’s important to be respectful. Avoid being overly nice or apologetic, as this can come across as insincere.

Not Listening Actively

Last but not the least, there is one crucial aspect that stands above the rest: active listening and good communication.

Active listening involves truly paying attention to customers, understanding their needs, and empathizing with their concerns. It goes beyond simply hearing their words.

Here’s Steve West, the founder of Entrepreneur Nut, sharing his insights on this crucial mistake:

"The lack of active listening to customers' queries and concerns is a big mistake that a lot of businesses seem to make. Either not listening to the customers needs at all, or jumping to conclusions about what the company thinks the customer wants can lead to frustration, as customers feel unheard and their issues remain unresolved."

Steve West, Founder of Entrepreneur Nut

Steve suggests investing in comprehensive training for employees, providing clear guidance on their roles and how to handle different customer queries.

Fostering empathy is also crucial. Businesses should encourage employees to actively listen to customers and empathize with their concerns.

Here are some tips for active listening:

  • Pay attention to the other person’s words, body language, and tone of voice.
  • Ask questions to clarify their meaning.
  • Summarize their points back to them to make sure you understand.

Good communication also encompasses negotiation skills. In certain situations, customers may have specific requests. Customer service representatives with strong negotiation skills can navigate these conversations, finding a middle ground that satisfies both parties and leads to a positive outcome.

a happy customer giving 5-star review on her phone

What Does Good Customer Service Look Like?

Good customer service is all about making the customer feel valued and respected. It’s about going the extra mile to help them solve their problems and make sure they’re satisfied with their experience.

At Skill Success, we believe that good customer service is essential for building a successful business. That’s why we’re committed to providing our customers with the best possible experience.

"We believe in going the extra mile to surprise and delight our customers. Whether it's a small gesture of appreciation or providing additional assistance beyond the initial request, we strive to exceed customer expectations and leave a positive, lasting impression."

Miguel Bagtang, Customer Support Manager at Skill Success

Here are some of the key elements of good customer service that we believe in:

  • Empathy: We understand that our customers are people, and we treat them with respect. We listen to their concerns and try to understand their perspective.
  • Responsiveness: We’re quick to respond to customer inquiries, and we make sure to keep them updated on the status of their issue.
  • Solution-oriented: We’re focused on finding solutions to our customers’ problems. We don’t just offer excuses or brush them off.
  • Proactive: We’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service. We’re constantly gathering feedback and making changes to our processes.
  • Personalized: We treat each customer as an individual. We don’t just see them as a number.

We believe that by following these principles, we can provide our customers with the best possible customer service experience. And we believe that this will lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.

5 FAQs about Learning Customer Service Skills

Why is it important to learn customer service skills?

Customer service skills are essential for anyone who wants to work in a customer-facing role. They can also be helpful in other areas of life, such as dealing with difficult people or resolving conflicts. Customer service skills can help you:

  • Get a job in a customer-facing role
  • Improve your communication skills
  • Enhance your problem-solving skills
  • Increase your empathy
  • Increase your patience
  • Increase your confidence

What are some key customer service skills to focus on?

Key customer service skills include effective communication, active listening, empathy, problem-solving, adaptability, and patience. These skills enable you to understand and meet customer needs, handle challenging situations, and create positive experiences.

Can customer service skills be applied across different industries?

Yes, customer service skills are transferable and can be applied across various industries. While the specific context may vary, the core principles of effective customer service remain consistent.

What are some of the challenges of learning customer service skills?

Some of the challenges of learning customer service skills include:

  • Dealing with difficult customers
  • Handling complaints
  • Working under pressure
  • Staying calm in stressful situations
  • Learning to listen actively

Are there online courses available for learning customer service skills?

Yes, there are numerous online courses dedicated to teaching customer service skills. These courses provide comprehensive instruction, practical examples, and valuable insights from industry experts.

Skill Success offers online courses to enhance customer service skills. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated with the latest courses and trends. This ensures you have access to the most relevant resources to improve your customer service expertise.

Key Takeaways

Investing in customer service skills is an investment in business success. By prioritizing exceptional customer service, businesses can create meaningful connections with customers, differentiate themselves from competitors, and foster long-term success.

The expert advice shared in this roundup post sheds light on the common mistakes to avoid and offers valuable insights on how to enhance customer service practices. We encourage you to take these tips to heart and implement them in your own business operations.

Customer service skills can be learned and developed. There are numerous online courses available that delve deeper into the intricacies of customer service, providing valuable knowledge and practical strategies.

Subscribe to Skill Success All Access Pass. It grants you unlimited access to a vast library of courses, including those specifically focused on customer service. With Skill Success, you can continuously enhance your skills and stay updated on the latest customer service practices.

Start implementing these expert tips today and embark on a journey toward outstanding customer service that will set your business apart.

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