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Article 6 min read

3 smart solutions to common customer service challenges

By Hannah Bastian, Product marketing manager, Support

Last updated March 1, 2024

You have a great customer service team that’s committed to providing your customers with top-notch support in every interaction. Your intentions are great, but the execution still isn’t where you want it to be.

The more ambitious a customer support team is—and big ambitions are good to have—the more challenges you’ll face in realizing your goals. While every business is unique, growing businesses that prioritize customer experience often have a few common customer service challenges in common.

Challenge #1: You struggle to collect the right data, and use the data you have

Businesses across industries talk a lot about the benefits of being data driven, but turning that talk into action is often a challenge. Without the right customer analytics tools, collecting and organizing data about your customers—both who they are and their experience with your business—can seem like an impossible task. And many businesses face the curse of too much data. The more you have, the harder it becomes to hone in on the information that’s most important to your goals and turn that information into action.

In an internal survey, 52% of the businesses we talked to said they struggled to make data-driven decisions. But without that ability, your customer service strategy will be based on guesswork.

Solution: Identify the metrics you really need, and find the tech to match

Before you make investments in tools designed to track customer analytics, take time to clarify your business goals and identify what data will help you meet them. Those are the metrics you need to measure; the rest is just distraction.

For most customer service teams, the most important customer service metrics will include a mix of data related to customer feedback (such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and net promoter scores (NPS)) and those related to agent performance (such as response and resolution times).

Once you’ve clarified the metrics you care about, look for a tool (such as Zendesk Explore) that not only makes it easy for you to collect that data, but also helps you put it into a format that you and your team can work with. An intuitive dashboard and clear reports are crucial to effectively using the data you have.

Once they had better access to the right metrics, the number of businesses in our internal survey who said they were finally able to make data-driven decisions jumped to 61%.

With access to better metrics powered by Zendesk Explore, John Zante, Vice President of Beam Communications says, “I can [now] make data-driven decisions and measure how our support is perceived by our customers.”

Challenge #2: Your reply and resolution times are too slow

Customer expectations don’t allow leeway for slow responses—65% of consumers expect faster service than they did just 5 years ago. And they don’t care what internal reasons you might have for those slow replies. They just want their answer now. Or, even better, 5 minutes ago.

Customer service teams can struggle to resolve issues quickly if there’s not a good process in place for getting the right tickets to the right agent as soon as possible. If your agents are spending time bouncing a ticket from one department to the next not sure who should claim it, you won’t meet the expectations of your customers.

Our research bears that out, with 40% of companies in our survey saying they couldn’t effectively set expectations around first reply and resolution times.

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Solution: Improve your internal processes

Creating a service level agreement (SLA) is a good first step. Establishing specific goals clarifies the standard you expect your agents to hold themselves to and gets everyone on the same page.

To enable your team to stick to your SLA, make it a part of their regular workflow by consistently tracking how well they’re meeting it. Set up alerts so team members and managers know any time their response times fall outside of your goals.

But it’s not enough to build reminders into the system, you also need to make sure your internal structure sets your team up for success. Your team needs the tools to quickly recognize what a ticket’s about and know who it should go to right away. Make sure you have clear definitions around who’s responsible for what, and provide everyone with a convenient reference point to find the information they need the moment they need it.

When the companies we talked to got a better process into place for creating and sticking with SLAs, 37% said their first contact and resolution times improved.

“We’re now able to effectively track and manage [an] SLA for our customers, in a way that’s clear for all agents to see and easily work towards their targets,” says Daniel Mcguigan, IT Administrator at Smoothwall.

Challenge #3: You’re not sure if your customers are truly satisfied

A business lives or dies by its customers and so keeping them happy should be paramount. The best way to figure out if you’re accomplishing that goal is to let your customers weigh in directly.

But many businesses struggle with how to get the direct customer feedback they need to find out if their current customer service strategies are working. 41% of the businesses we surveyed said they weren’t able to effectively gather customer feedback, and 62% didn’t have any process in place for measuring customer satisfaction.

How can you do better if you don’t know how you’re doing now?

Solution: Send customer satisfaction surveys

Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to get a quick and accurate picture of how you’re doing. They’re effective because they don’t ask too much of your customers—they can respond within seconds if they so choose, simply clicking “yes” or “no”. Or they can take a couple of minutes to provide a comment that provides you with useful insights.

30% of businesses we talked to said customer satisfaction improved after they started using customer satisfaction surveys.

And it provides you with both useful data and clear business insights, as Jessica Schmidt Manager of Customer Success at Beekeeper found. “It is great to finally measure how happy our customers are and it provides us with opportunities to find areas to grow,” she says.

Solve your main customer service challenges

Good intentions are just the start. To meet the lofty goals you’ve set for your team, you need to address your biggest challenges head on. That’s much easier to accomplish with the right tech solutions. Give your team the tools they need to deliver truly exceptional customer service outcomes.

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