Customer Service

7 Customer Service Challenges that Customer Service Agents Face and Their Solutions

December 13, 2021
12:00 am

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There are plenty of customer service challenges your teams face every day. Some are easily addressed, while others are more complex.

The reps making up these teams are the face of your brand and the impression they make on customers while solving these challenges has a profound impact on how your business is viewed — and whether or not those customers will return. That means it’s crucial your agents are prepared.

Related: 22 customer service team goals for 2022

Let’s dig into some of the most common customer service challenges and how to solve them so your service representatives can deliver the best support possible. 

The 7 most common customer service challenges

1. Not knowing the answer to a question

There will be times that customers catch your agents off guard with questions they simply can’t answer in the moment. However, this doesn’t mean they should just leave it at ‘I don’t know’ and move on. 

The solution

This is a chance for your team to direct the customer down the right path, or if possible, gather the right information themselves. This could involve directing customers to a knowledge base or putting them in touch with the correct team member to help

Whatever the issue, acknowledge the customer’s question and lay out a plan to address the situation. Most importantly, follow up when you say you will, even if it’s just an honest update that the issue may take longer than expected to solve. 


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2. Transferring customer calls

Transferring calls can be annoying for everyone involved. Customers often end up frustrated after wasting time repeating information, and with multiple agents involved, it means more time spent waiting for incoming calls or chats to be answered. 

The solution

Explain the problem in simple terms, tell them why you need to transfer the call to another team member, and how that person can better help the situation. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the transfer ensures the customer knows you get their issue and you’re not just transferring them needlessly. The right answer is often only a conversation away.

3. Not having the right tools

Your customers are crazy busy. They expect you to meet them on whatever communication channels they prefer and don’t have time to wait around. When your customer service representatives lack the necessary tools to meet your customers wherever they are, the support process becomes slow and can cause frustration. 

For example, siloed customer information means making visitors wait while an agent tries to hunt down basic information. Or worse, the customer needs to continue repeating the same information.

The solution

Finding the right customer engagement software that meets both your business and customer needs is key here. Tools like live chat, cobrowse, and chatbots can all help improve customer service workflows as well as the overall experience. Figuring out which are right for you depends on your service goals and current challenges. 

Acquire's live chat software
Acquire's live chat software in action helping support agents connect with customers in real-time.

4. Customer service workflows aren’t aligned with the customer's journey 

Without mapping out customer support workflows, bottlenecks or breakdowns can go unnoticed and unaddressed. And if customers run into too many issues along their journey it could cause them to abandon things altogether.  

The solution

If you haven’t already, it’s time to build a customer journey map detailing every touchpoint a person goes through on the route to conversion. Each touchpoint should allow access to customer support, whether it be a chatbot, live chat, or knowledge base articles.

Keep in mind that each support point should be relevant to the customer’s needs. For example, if you know people often have questions during check out, it would be a good idea to set up a chatbot that could automatically provide the answers at any time.

5. Dealing with angry customers

One major customer service challenge support teams face is angry customers. The challenge comes from reaching a satisfying conclusion for everyone involved, calmly and efficiently. There are many reasons a customer may be angry, but, regardless of the cause, it’s your team’s job to handle the situation properly. 

The solution:

Whatever the issue, giving the customer an apology, explanation, and reassurance is a must. Take a leaf out of Disney’s book with the HEARD technique. HEARD stands for: 

Hear: Let the customer tell their entire story without interruption. 

Empathize: Convey that you understand how the customer feels.

Apologize: Even if whatever made them upset isn’t your fault, give a genuine apology for how the customer feels.

Resolve: Resolve the issue quickly and, if possible, give employees the power to solve the issue without escalation. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer, “What can I do to make this right?”

Diagnose: Understand why the issue happened without shifting blame; focus on fixing the process.

6. No crisis management or escalation protocol

Crisis management without a plan is a recipe for chaos. Regardless of what the particular crisis entails, customer service will undoubtedly be at the front line, answering questions and solving the problems. The best thing you can do is be prepared because you never know when trouble could strike. 

The solution

  • Make a plan. Put a standard operating procedure in place to handle crises and escalations. Be sure agents are clear on who to contact for specific types of issues and when it’s necessary to escalate an issue. 
  • Let your teams call some of the shots. The goal is to solve your customers’ problems as fast as you can while keeping them happy. Give your team the ability to discern when discounts or compensation, for example, could be used as a solution to avoid having to escalate to upper management and risk having customers wait longer. 
  • Build workflows that keep crisis management in mind. Set up the necessary tags and automations to help agents identify and escalate tickets that need immediate attention. 


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7. Not meeting customer expectations

Customer expectations constantly change and to fulfill them you need to understand exactly who your customer is, the journey they take while interacting with your brand, and what it is they want from you.

The Solution

  • Collect customer feedback. Whether it’s customer surveys, reviewing chat logs, or customer interviews, feedback directly from the people who use your product or service is extremely important when trying to improve the overall customer experience. 
  • Focus on the small things. Improving your customer service doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire strategy. Make small changes where you can and take it step by step. It might seem insignificant at first, but small improvements add up over time.
  • Stay one step ahead. At one point in time, a simple chatbot was enough. Now an omnichannel approach is considered the norm. It’s safe to say this will continue to evolve over time. The point is, don’t just settle for the industry standard or good enough. Keep up with the times but keep your eyes on the horizon too. 

What types of customer service challenges do your support teams face? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re not sure, this is the perfect opportunity to take stock.


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