By Susan Guillory

While you can read hundreds of articles to help you run your business, sometimes your own experiences with other companies are the best guide to help you. Take customer service for example. Think about customer service experiences you’ve had that have frustrated you, that have made you want to take your business elsewhere. These are the ones you want to avoid in your own business.

1. Keeping Customers on Hold

If you’ve ever called a customer service line, I’m willing to bet you’ve drummed your fingers frustratedly while listening to far too much hold music.

Solution: There’s no reason your customers should have to wait long to reach your company. It’s worth the investment to amp up your customer service team and add multiple channels for customers to reach you. Having email, chat and social media as additional ways for them to reach your brand can reduce how many calls your customer service line gets.

2. Sending Them Into a Black Hole with Email

If you do add other means of communication to your customer service, make sure your team responds to all inquiries. While many companies offer email as a channel, far too many take days to respond, or don’t respond at all.

Solution: On your Contact Us page, give customers an idea of how quickly you will respond, and make sure you live up to your promise. Aim for 48 hours or less.

3. Not Being Able to Remedy a Situation

Have you ever tried to get an issue resolved and the customer service person not being able to help? When reps are limited in what they can do, it can turn what starts out as a slightly annoying situation into a full-on explosive issue if a customer can’t find resolution.

Solution: Empower your customer service team to do whatever it takes to remedy a problem. That means they should be able to refund an order, exchange a product, or offer additional discounts or perks to close out a case.

4. Making it Hard to Process a Return

In an era where you get free and easy returns with retailers like Amazon and Zappos, it’s unforgivable when brands make it challenging for customers to return items.

Solution: Make your return policy simple and front and center on your site. Have a streamlined process in place for customer service to process claims.

5. Sounding Like a Robot

When customer service reps read from a script, they sound anything but human. How can a customer feel a connection with a brand with a robot on the other line?

Solution: While it’s a good idea to provide scripts to your team, encourage them to go off the page and be human. They should be able to start small talk and improvise when interacting with a customer.

Customer service is essential to get right. After all, if a customer is contacting your reps, she’s likely unhappy. It’s your business’ responsibility to fix what’s wrong and maintain her loyalty to your brand.