8 Service Mistakes That Will Annoy Your Clients

There are more ways to annoy clients than there are to please them. Sometimes it feels like every phone call or email is a game of Minesweeper played on the most difficult setting.

While CRM systems have eliminated many common service mistakes, the following errors still crop up with alarming regularity. A few of these mistakes could be committed by anyone; a few could only be committed by the lazy; and some are born of pressure and circumstance. In any case, make sure they don’t happen to you!

1. Fail to prepare…

…and prepare to fail. Over the course of a long business day, it's understandable if faces and names start to blend together—but forget your lines in advance of a big meeting or call and you could be faced with disaster.  

That's because if clients think they can get more personalized service elsewhere, they'll go elsewhere.

How to avoid it

Your CRM system should make retrieving and viewing historical information simple. Use this information to remind yourself of the client’s overall needs, and of what you discussed last time. No one client can be your highest priority, but every client should feel that they are by nature of how you treat them and attend to their needs.

2. "Dear [insert first name]"

Nothing makes a client feel less special than botched email automation. It's understandable; reading a message addressed to "Dear %%FIRSTNAME%%" or "Dear Mr." can be quite alienating. Getting personalization wrong is in some respects worse than not bothering with it in the first place.  

How to avoid it

The first thing to do is to make sure any automation codes are correct. Modern marketing automation software comes with sophisticated field mapping functionality; if you use it properly, you can avoid this mistake.

3. Sending an email to the wrong person

Sometimes you'll accidentally send something to a client that's relevant to someone else (potentially causing embarrassment—particularly if one client's deal is more favorable than another); sometimes you might contact a competitor with content meant for your clients. When you send an email to the wrong person, nobody's happy.

How to avoid it

By using quality database software, you can make sure all communications are associated with the right stakeholders. In any case, be extremely careful before you hit send.

4. Responding slowly

Again, no one client is ever your only priority. If you're juggling multiple inquiries, it can be difficult to give each one the attention it deserves. You can either respond slowly and methodically—thereby frustrating people who have other things to be getting on with—or respond hurriedly—thereby frustrating people who expect a more thorough level of service.

How to avoid it

You need to access records relevant to multiple clients in an instant—so be sure to use software with an interface that enables quick, intuitive transitioning between tasks and windows.

5. Making unsubstantiated claims

It's easy for certain assumptions or bits of received wisdom to be treated as fact by the busy professional. If you say something that later turns out to be incorrect, you can damage your credibility—and your company's.

How to avoid it

Data analysis is a powerful thing. If a trend or pattern is forming, the right tool will find it. Your instincts won't often be wrong, and it never does any harm to prove them right.

6. The 12 a.m. catchup call

If you can't tell why this gets on people's nerves, you shouldn't be in customer service. It's never intentional—but sometimes it's easy to forget that not everybody lives in the same time zone.

How to avoid it

Any good CRM should be able to tell you when clients do and do not prefer to be contacted—with the hours given in both your local time and theirs. Using this information, you can make sure communications always arrive at the best possible moment.

7. Spotting a problem—and telling nobody about it

When you're dealing with one client problem, it's quite possible that you'll see the roots of other ones. Maybe the product they want requires a specific kind of hardware to run, and you know for a fact that they don't have it. Perhaps the service they want is tailored to larger businesses. If there's trouble waiting for them down the line, it's not always easy to know—or to broach the subject when you do.

How to avoid it

They don't have to take your advice, but the responsible thing to do is to give it—even when there might not be any immediate benefit to the company. Using your CRM, it's often possible to see how issues have manifested throughout the history of your relationship, and which issues might crop up in future. If you notice something, tell them!

8. Complaining about a client after a call…and before they've hung up.

This one should be self-explanatory.

How to avoid it

Don't do that.


In his role as international managing director of Bullhorn, Peter Linas oversees international operations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific and Japan (APAC). Linas joined Bullhorn in 2009 and was responsible for its highly successful U.K. launch. Linas has expanded Bullhorn’s reach into EMEA and APAC and achieved a user base of more than 10,000 international users. Prior to taking on the launch of Bullhorn in the U.K., Linas spent 20 years working in the recruitment industry and held a number of senior director roles before moving into the technology space. 

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