12 Top Customer Service Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

9 min read

Your customer service team faces plenty of customer service challenges every day. Some can be easily addressed, while others may require a more complex solution. In this post, we will dive into some of the most common customer service challenges and ways you can solve them so your service agents can deliver the best support possible.

1. Serving multiple customers at a time

There might be times when your customer support team struggles to keep up with a growing number of customer service or technical support tickets. This might happen due to staffing issues, seasonal or daily peak hours, or due to unexpected product or service issues.

It can be difficult for agents to provide each customer with the individual attention they need when they are dealing with multiple inquiries simultaneously. This is also the time when agents may fall back on answering phone calls, chats, and emails. This can often lead to customers feeling ignored or neglected, and can ultimately result in a negative experience.

One of the best ways to handle this challenge is to provide convenient customer self-service options on your website. Consider creating a product knowledge base, and enabling a customer portal, where customers can look up their order status, submit product warranty or returns and receive notifications of any current product issues or service outages.

2. Not knowing the answer to a question

One of the most common challenges for customer service agents is not knowing the answer to a customer's question. This can be frustrating for both the customer and the agent and can lead to a negative customer experience.

There are a few ways to handle this situation. The first is to try to find the answer as quickly as possible. The company-wide knowledge base can be a great tool for that. The second is to apologize to the customer and let them know that you will find out and get back to them as soon as possible. The third is to transfer the customer to another agent who may be able to help them.

No matter what you do, always be polite and respectful to each customer. Even if they are difficult, it is important to stay calm and professional.

3. Facing frustrated customers

Dealing with frustrated customers is one of the most challenging aspects of customer service.

There are a few things that you can do to help diffuse the situation and make it easier for both you and the customer. First, always stay calm. Raising your voice or becoming defensive will only make the situation worse. Second, try to understand why the customer is upset. Often, there is a valid reason for their anger, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

It is also important to apologize for any inconvenience that the customer may have experienced and let them know that their concerns are being taken seriously. Finally, it is important to thank the customer for bringing the issue to our attention.

4. Not meeting customer expectations

Customers have high expectations for customer service agents. They want their inquiries and problems to be handled quickly and efficiently. However, this is not always the case. In many cases, customer service agents are not able to meet customer expectations.

There are a number of reasons why customer service agents may not be able to meet customer expectations. One reason is that they may not have the necessary skills or knowledge to deal with customer inquiries. Another reason is that they may not be able to provide the level of service that the customer expects. Additionally, customers may feel that they are not being treated fairly or that their problem is not getting enough attention.

First of all, collect customer feedback. You can do that by collecting customer surveys, reviewing chat logs, and conducting customer interviews. Hearing directly from the people who use your product or service is extremely important when trying to improve the overall customer experience.

Leverage customer feedback to start improving your customer service experience. You can start by making small changes to move you in the right direction. It might seem insignificant at first, but small improvements will add up over time.

5. Not being able to resolve issues quickly

One of the most common customer service challenges is agents not being able to resolve an issue within a short time. Customers want their issues resolved as quickly as possible, but this is often not possible. Long wait times or continuous back and forth with the agent can lead to frustration, a negative customer experience, and will lead to a bad company reputation, and negative word of mouth.

There are a few ways to deal with this challenge. The first is to be upfront with the customer about how long it will take to resolve the issue. However, do not commit a false time frame as it may lead to more frustration and dissatisfaction. The second is to provide the customer with alternate solutions that can be implemented in the meantime. The third is to keep the customer updated on the progress of the issue.

6. Not having the right tools

Providing great customer service is a challenge for any company, but it can be especially difficult when agents don’t have the right tools. In order to provide an exceptional customer experience, agents need access to customer data, knowledge about the products and services they’re selling or supporting, and a way to easily communicate with other departments.

When companies don’t provide their agents with the necessary tools, it can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among customers. In some cases, it can even cause them to switch to a competitor.

One way to address this challenge is to observe your agent’s workflow, find bottlenecks and introduce or remove certain tools. This can include customer service software that allows them to quickly and easily access customer information, customer self-service portals and knowledgebases for customers and support agents to find answers to most common questions, or a more streamlined process by collecting more information about customer issues before contact is made.

Another way to overcome the challenge of not having the right tools is to provide customer service agents with training. This can help them to be more efficient and knowledgeable.

Lastly, you can help gents by giving them time to do their job. This can be done by reducing the number of calls they have to take or increasing staffing.

7. Having to use too many tools

Your customers are busy and they want their questions and issues resolved quickly and efficiently. But sometimes customer service organizations use way tools for agents to be efficient.

Many customer service organizations use multiple and outdated software systems and tools to help with their day-to-day operations, rather than using a single, more contemporary platform. This requires agents are open and close 8-10 different programs to resolve a single customer issue, and requires enormous amounts of time on administrative tasks.  These platforms are often built on outdated technology and are difficult to use, making it challenging for customer service agents to provide quality customer service.

When your customer service representatives forced too many disjointed and outdated tools the support process becomes slow, inefficient, and can cause frustration for both, customers and the agents.

Some of the solutions to this challenge include reconsidering your customer technology stack. When it comes to implementing new technology solutions, you can adopt new feature-specific software that integrates within their existing contact center or choose a platform with multiple, integrated solutions.

8. Managing service outages

When a service outage occurs, the customer service agents are the ones who have to face the brunt of the customer's anger. Customers may not be aware of the technical difficulties that caused the outage and can be very vocal about their displeasure. In some cases, customers may even take their anger out on the customer service agent.

This can be a difficult situation for the customer service agent. They are already dealing with a stressful situation, and now they have to deal with an angry customer. They may not be able to fix the problem, but they can try to calm the customer down and apologize for the inconvenience.

In order to effectively manage these outages, customer service agents need to have a clear understanding of the company's policies and procedures for managing outages. They also need to be familiar with the tools and resources that are available to them.

In addition, customer service agents need to be able to effectively communicate with customers during outages. They should be able to provide customers with updates on the outage and explain the company's policies and procedures. They should also be able to answer any questions that customers may have.

If you are aware of the outage, let your customers know proactively that there is an outage and that your teams are working on resolving it.

9. Having no solution to the customer’s problem

When customers reach out to customer service agents for help, they expect the agents to have a solution to their problem. However, this is not always the case. In some cases, agents may not have a solution and may need to transfer the customer to another department or even another company.

This can be very frustrating for customers, who may feel that they are not being listened to or that their problem is not important. They may also feel that the agent is not competent enough to help them.

If you are at a loss and have no idea how to solve a certain issue, it’s better to take the time and research it a little bit or maybe consult with your teammates or senior staff.  Get back to the customer right away, and ask customers to allow you some time so that you can investigate the case in detail and provide them with the best solutions available.

In some cases, the solution to a customer question or issue may not exist or may require another team to get involved. In this case, provide the customer with alternate solutions that can be implemented in the meantime and keep the customer updated on the progress.

10. Customers request features that your product does not currently have

When a customer requests a product feature, the customer service agent's first challenge is to try and understand what the customer is asking for. Sometimes customers are not clear about what they want, and it is up to the agent to clarify the request.

If the customer is asking for a feature that your product or service currently does not have, thank the customer for the feedback and let them know that suggestion will be communicated with the right teams internally. If possible, offer an alternative solution.

11. Customers want a discount you can’t give

Customer service agents are often put in a difficult position when customers ask for a discount that the company can't give. On the one hand, the customer service agent wants to do whatever she can to make the customer happy and keep her business. On the other hand, the company may have specific policies in place regarding discounts, and it's not always possible to make exceptions.

What should you do if a customer asks for a discount you can't give? Listen to the customer and try to understand her reason for wanting the discount. Acknowledge the customer's request and explain why the discount cannot be given. Most importantly, be polite and understanding, but firm.

12. When customer service is not aligned to the customer journey

Many companies struggle to align their customer service with their customer journey. This can be difficult because there are so many different parts of the journey that need to be coordinated. The challenge for customer service agents is to ensure that each interaction is handled in a way that is consistent with the customer’s overall experience and is aligned to the customer's lifecycle stage and touchpoint.

When customer service is not aligned to the customer journey, it can create inconsistency and frustration for customers. In order to provide a consistent and positive customer service experience, it is important for customer service agents to be aware of and aligned with the customer journey.

To alleviate this challenge, map the customer journey and align it with how customers and prospects interact with the brand over multiple touchpoints including your website and social channels, outbound marketing, sales team, and customer service department. Make sure to capture the entire journey and highlight the key moments. Base your customer mapping on research that will help your service agents to better understand the customer experience.

Conclusion

Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. It can make or break a company. Unfortunately, providing excellent customer service can be challenging. In this article, we discussed 12 of the most common customer service challenges and ways to overcome them. Focusing on addressing these challenges is crucial as they directly impact customer satisfaction and your business growth.

Victoria
I love to write with one goal in mind - to help you build amazing customer experiences. Our content is tailored to help you understand your customers, design great products and deliver world-class customer self-service. I share my knowledge and experience through my articles, videos, podcasts, templates, and more - so you can take your customer experience to the next level.‍

Want to learn more about what we offer?

Explore the stages of our product tour and the self-service solutions we provide to see how our diverse applications can work for you.

Explore more blog posts!

That's not all! Our blog has tons to offer. Explore more posts below to keep learning!

knowledge base content planning

How To Select the Best Knowledge Management System for You

Knowledge Management

There is a lot to consider when evaluating and selecting the best system for your needs. In this blog, we will cover where to search for solutions and what to include on your shopping checklist.

continue reading →
knowledge management system

Knowledge management systems: how to choose the right one

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is crucial for any organization today. With more and more teams choosing remote or blended working options and the sheer amount of information that is being created and shared on a daily basis, it's more important than ever to have a system in place to manage and share knowledge effectively. In this article, we share essential knowledge management system features to look for to make the process of selecting and adopting KMS an easy one for you.

continue reading →
document search

Search Relevance: What It Is and How to Build a Relevant Site Search

Customer Self-Service

Users expect a lot from website searches nowadays--they want lightning-fast, personalized, and most importantly, relevant results. However, creating a relevant search can be a complex process. Many websites struggle to provide optimized results pages that match users' intent and bring them to their needs with ease. In this post, you’ll learn how to increase the relevance of your website search using travel time data.

continue reading →
enterprise search

Enterprise Search Best Practices

Knowledge Management

The search function is one of the most crucial aspects of any Knowledge Management project. A well-designed search experience enables both your customers and employees to more quickly access the most relevant, personalized information when and where they need it. Find out how you can provide an effective and efficient enterprise search experience by following some of the best practices we outline in this article.

continue reading →
customer self-service portal

Customer Self Service Portals: Benefits and Must-have Features

Customer Self-Service

Customer self-service portals provide an efficient way for customers to access content, perform convenient transactions and resolve common issues on their own, without having to call or email customer support. But not all self-service portals are created equal. In order to be effective, they need to have certain key features. Read on to find out what top features you should be looking for when building your customer portal.

continue reading →