As a manager of customer experience and retention, I've seen my fair share of customer service challenges. I even co-host the Oopsie Podcast, where we chat with leaders in DTC about their biggest on-job mistakes.
While the occasional error is inevitable, these random blunders don’t determine the quality of your company’s customer support. It’s really about how you address not only these one-off situations but also the bigger challenges that customer service teams face, day in and day out.
In this article, I'll talk through 12 of the most common pitfalls plaguing growing support teams, and give actionable advice to resolve each one.
With some awareness of these challenges, and the right systems to solve them, you’ll set your team up for success and give your customers the A+ experience that keeps them coming back.
Team management and resourcing challenges
Striking the right balance of staffing and skills for a customer service team is tricky. Under-resourcing leads to agent burnout, but overstaffing drives up costs and causes even bigger problems.
Use the strategies ahead to better allocate your company resources, increase the productivity of your team, and maintain consistent service quality (without going over budget).
1) Proving the team’s ROI and getting buy-in for additional agents and tools
Let’s bring it back to basics for a moment: a customer support agent’s job is to answer questions and address customers’ problems, along with maintaining incredible feedback loops. However, too many teams strictly focus on clearing the ticket queue, measuring the impact of their support teams with non-business metrics like response and resolution times.
Of course, these customer support metrics are important. But they’re only pieces of the larger picture of your team’s impact on the business.
Another common pitfall? Aiming for overly broad goals of “surprising and delighting” customers without a real understanding of how support impacts the whole customer journey or business ROI.
The reality is that customer experience (largely driven by the support team) has many touch points across the entire customer journey (from pre-sales to post-sales) that lead to more sales and customer loyalty.
It’s important for your customer service team to proactively measure and prove ROI. Without knowing how much money your customer experience (CX) drives, you’ll never:
- Actually understand the impact you're having on the business
- Learn about the biggest opportunities to improve your CX
- Have up-to-date data about your impact on revenue to ask for more resources from company leaders
Solution: Shift your support team’s metrics and KPIs
If you only measure first response time and average handle time, you're only seeing whether your agents are good at answering tickets. Not whether they’re boosting revenue.
If those are your base measurements, you'll incentivize support team members to act more as sales agents by reaching out to customers proactively to suggest products. This encourages happy customers to leave product reviews and other tactics that boost revenue.
2) Hiring quality customer service agents at scale
As your business gets bigger, it’s tougher to build a team that provides high quality customer support.
Growing a team? Easy, lots of people are looking for jobs. But scaling with the right people? That’s another challenge entirely. If you hire low-quality agents and provide poor training, your team’s morale, performance, and ROI will begin to snowball:
Solution: Hire agents like they’re sales associates
Hiring skilled customer service reps — that you compensate competitively — is the first key to solving this challenge. People often view customer service as a junior, anyone-can-do-it kind of role. That’s just not the case.
Especially in ecommerce, customer support has a huge impact on revenue. Between pre-sales support and post-sales conversations that drive loyalty, it makes much more sense to hire support reps as though they are sales associates. Because, in many ways, they are.
Once you hire an all-star team, choosing a customer support platform that includes built-in product training (like Gorgias Academy) can improve your onboarding process. Base your training on real data about your support team’s performance to help you focus your training on the areas that matter most.
Check out this ultimate guide to customer service hiring for a step-by-step process that attracts strategic, empathetic, and business-minded agents.
3) Too many service tickets for your team to handle (especially during busy seasons)
For all the excitement of shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there’s also a bit of pre-holiday scaries. Record sales also mean record tickets and record returns. It’s a great season, but an incredibly busy one.
The challenge is keeping up with a high degree of tickets without losing the fast responses and helpful, customer-centric approach.
Solution: Deflect low-impact tickets (without sacrificing support quality) using self-service
The best way to keep up with tickets (and preserve enough energy to nail the most challenging tickets) is to lean on self-service in your chat widget.
Self-service is a bit like a chatbot, but set up for customer success (rather than customer irritation). While chatbots try and imitate people, self-service provides simple functionality and workflows to answer common questions, track orders, request returns, and more.
Watch this video to understand a bit more about what self-service from Gorgias’ Automation Add-on can do for your brand:
If you still struggle to meet demand during busy seasons, even with the help of automation, think about how you can engage your larger team, beyond even CX, to help.
I always talk about how everyone at Chomps is trained on Gorgias (whether they work in CX or not) so that if we have a temporary increase of tickets, we can ask anyone in the company to step in and help out. We love the feature that Gorgias allows unlimited seats that allows this to be possible unlike other helpdesk platforms.
Another option to consider are services such as Simplr which provide remote support agents on demand.
4) Managing stress and avoiding burnout from high-pressure situations
Customer service teams are deeply empathetic, wanting to create the best experience possible for every customer. Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword. Even if 99% of customers are patient and understanding, it's hard not to dwell on the 1% who are rude or impatient. The frustrated customer messages and the social media callouts take an emotional toll over time, leading to burnout and turnover.
When good reps leave due to unrelenting pressure, it creates gaps in knowledge and relationships that weaken customer service overall. The long-term effects can ripple through an organization, affecting morale, team cohesion, and the reputation of your customer service department.
Solution: Provide your team with the resources they need — before they need them
The key is being proactive in supporting your team, not reactive. If a rep tells you they need help, it's often too late — the stress has already set in. Instead, provide a range of resources ahead of time.
- Add additional team members. Empower your team to request extra hands based on early warning signs. Bring in temporary contractors to handle seasonal spikes before things get unmanageable. Or, train employees in multiple departments across your company in CX so they can jump in to help.
- Develop go-to templates and scripts. Respond to emails with existing templates (called Macros in Gorgias) — whether that’s replies to shoppers with shipping and delivery problems, customers who got the wrong product, or folks who want to provide positive feedback.
- Wellness resources. Implement wellness initiatives like reset breaks and mental health days before burnout sets in.
Being proactive with resources shows your team you care, prevents disengagement, and ultimately provides better customer experiences. Supporting your team’s well-being strengthens service quality across the board.
Technology and customer service tools
New technologies can improve how your customer service teams operate, giving customers a better overall experience. But there’s always the whole "how the heck do we use this?" phase. offering innovative solutions to better processes and elevate customer experiences.
Balancing the excitement of modernization with the hurdles of integration is a common challenge that teams grapple with.
5) Choosing the right tools (and applying them correctly)
Many companies fall into the trap of investing in customer service tools that promise to do it all — from automated chatbots to crowded helpdesks. But trying to be everything for everyone often leads these generalized tools to frustrate customers more than help them.
A general chatbot, programmed to answer a broad range of queries, can misinterpret nuanced or specific questions, leading to inaccurate responses. Instead of guiding the customer towards a solution, it becomes an obstacle, prolonging the resolution process and frustrating customers more. Without customization, the promise of convenience is overshadowed by the bot's lack of specialized knowledge and inability to provide personalized customer service.
Solution: Select tools built for your business goals
Rather than investing in generic tools that promise to do it all, carefully evaluate solutions purpose-built for your business’s specific needs. For ecommerce, this means identifying where automation can step in to handle high-volume repetitive inquiries like order tracking and refunds. Investing in tools designed to deflect these common questions frees your team to focus on more complex issues that need a human touch.
My team uses Gorgias Order Management Flows for self-service order tracking and automated return/refund requests. Customers can quickly check their status, report issues, or start a cancellation without agent assistance. Not only does this resolve the most frequent customer questions instantly, but it also reduces ticket volume so our customer service reps can spend time building relationships through personalized service.
With the right tools to handle common inquiries in the background, your team is empowered to deliver exceptional human-centric experiences.
6) Creating a unified and seamless customer experience across various platforms
Customers jump between email, social, chat, and self-serve, expecting seamless support. A 2019 report from Salesforce found that 69% of customers want connected experiences, anticipating that the customer service representative they interact with across various channels to have the same information.
Yet, delivering omnichannel customer service across all platforms isn’t easy. Siloed experiences across channels frustrate customers and complicate agent workflows.
Solution: Use an omnichannel helpdesk for a seamless customer experience
An omnichannel helpdesk, like Gorgias, unifies customer service delivery across platforms. Instead of toggling between disconnected inboxes, agents handle all queries from one tool. Customers receive quick, consistent assistance whether they email, chat, SMS, or reach out on social media.
The omnichannel approach to customer service comes with a slew of benefits:
- Consistent experiences across all platforms build trust
- Seamless hand-offs between channels reduce repetition
- Unified context gives agents the entire history to personalize interactions
- Meeting customers on preferred channels boosts satisfaction
- Omnichannel analytics uncover service gaps to improve
With a unified helpdesk, interactions build loyalty rather than frustration. The simplicity of managing all touchpoints from a single window creates seamless customer and agent experiences.
Knowledge and training in customer service
Well-informed, knowledgeable agents provide better service. From inconsistent rep expertise to keeping docs updated, knowledge-related challenges impact customer satisfaction.
7) Customer service representatives don’t have the answer to customers' questions
If a customer calls your company and doesn't get the answer to their question, they won’t leave the interaction feeling good about your brand.
Of course, customer service reps can't know the answer to every question off the top of their head. If your team doesn’t have the correct answers, often it’s a leadership issue. This makes it essential to provide your reps with all the resources they need to address each customer’s needs — fast.
Solution: Create a knowledge base, use templates, and thorough onboarding with product and process information
Lean on a knowledge base videos, and other resources that your customer support staff can use to find answers to common questions. It’s different from an external help center or customer-facing knowledge base and more extensive than an FAQ page. Your knowledge base can be an easy reference tool for agents whenever they need to double-check a customer service policy or product.
You can also program that knowledge directly into your helpdesk. Gorgias allows brands to create templated Macros that are easy to use and customize as needed. You can create templates for common questions and issues, building an internal knowledge base for your agents to pull directly into customer tickets.
Here’s an example from our Macros at Chomps, for a technical question that agents might not know off the top of their heads:
This way, customers get consistent, accurate information, and agents don’t have to guess or dig for an answer.
That said, when it comes to instilling product and policy knowledge, nothing replaces your onboarding and training process. I recommend spending these sessions to educate your reps on the following:
- Product and service knowledge
- Policy and process knowledge
- Customer service tools
- Technical skills
- Good vs. bad tickets
- Brand voice and tone
- Soft skills (like how to empathize with customers)
- Helpful customer service phrases
8) No crisis management or escalation policies
Sometimes support tickets need a higher-up to step in and sort them out. If your company doesn't have clear steps for bumping these tickets up, some might slip through the cracks.
This leads to angry customers who feel your company isn’t interested in fixing their problem.
Solution: Automate the ticket escalation process
Creating policies for escalating support tickets is the obvious place to start in addressing this challenge, but it's also helpful to automate ticket escalation to ensure that no ticket (or customer) gets left behind.
With Gorgias’ Rules, support agents can automatically transfer a ticket to another agent or team without having to manually collect customer information and reassign the ticket.
Gorgias also allows you to create rules for escalating tickets automatically, such as a rule for automatically escalating tickets when the platform's Sentiment Detection feature detects that a customer is angry.
Here’s an example of a Rule that uses Sentiment Detection to flag tickets where someone may leave a bad review:
Customer interaction management
Every chat with a customer matters for keeping them happy and loyal to your brand. The tough part? Calming down heated chats, juggling multiple questions at once, and giving that personal touch even when you're swamped. The way agents handle each chat really shapes how the customer feels.
9) Dealing with a frustrated or angry customer
Dealing with angry customers is a part of the job that very few support agents enjoy.
However, empathizing and working with customers, no matter how upset they are, is just part of good customer service.
Angry customers who eventually calm down are potential customers who might return to your company — they are also less likely to leave negative reviews that could damage your brand image.
Solution: Improve your CX proactively with clear product and policy descriptions (plus self-service)
Most blog posts claim the best way to deal with an angry customer is to practice patience and empathy, maybe with a pre-written script. And if you want that kind of advice, check out this blog post with an example script for how to deal with an angry customer.
But let's look closer at the root of most customers' anger: The shopping experience didn't happen like they thought it would. The best way to mitigate that anger is to lean into proactive customer support:
- Create incredibly clear product descriptions (to avoid a customer feeling duped)
- Display detailed policies (for things like shipping and returns) prominently on your website
- Use pop-ups, banners, and mass emails to proactively warn customers about delays and outages before they get frustrated
- Build detailed FAQ pages and Help Centers to help customers find answers fast, before they get angry about having to reach out and wait
For example, develop a great post-purchase experience to avoid customer anger. Send customers a detailed order confirmation, clear step-by-step information about when their product will be shipped, and how to track their order.
If you’re not sure where to start, listen to your customers. This guide to collecting customer feedback explains how to take insights from customer support tickets.
10) Providing customer service to multiple customers at a time
If you want any hope of achieving industry standards for metrics like first response time and resolution time, your customer support reps need to be able to work with multiple customers in real-time, across communication channels (like live chat and social media).
This is one of the more challenging aspects of the job for small teams. Thankfully, it is also something that the right customer service software can go a long way toward helping your customer service agents achieve.
Solution: Use a centralized helpdesk
If you aren’t already, consider using a helpdesk to manage customer conversations across all channels. A helpdesk pulls these conversations into one centralized inbox so your team can offer omnichannel service — a fancy way of saying offering support to customers on all channels without having to switch between tabs.
Once your helpdesk is up and running, direct your customers away from calling your support line and towards your Contact Us page.
I recommend funneling as much traffic to a Contact Us page as possible because we have Rules set up based on the drop downs that the customer chooses. Those Rules organize the tickets into different views so that we can work based on urgency.
Service quality and efficiency
Delivering excellent service quickly is crucial, yet difficult. Customers expect fast, personalized responses and consistent experiences. Challenges include managing wait times, meeting service-level agreements (SLAs), and upholding quality across a growing customer base.
11) Maintaining a singular brand voice across different customer service agents
Customers want the same feel every time they chat with your brand, no matter which agent they get. But since each rep is different, you might find a mix of tones and messages. It's a bit of a balancing act to keep the brand voice consistent while letting agents be themselves.
Solution: Integrate your brand style guide directly into customer service workflows
Having a solid brand style guide keeps things consistent whenever you chat with customers. To create one, define your brand personality, voice, tone, and writing style. Provide guidelines and verbatim examples for everyday interactions like greetings, apologies, confirmations, and closings. Make sure the language aligns with your values.
Here’s how to put your brand style guide into action:
- Incorporate your brand voice directly into canned Macros and automated workflows. Customers will get on-brand, personalized responses.
- Ensure all agents can easily reference the guide as they craft customer conversations.
- In team reviews, collaborate to improve examples and optimize messaging.
- Allow reasonable personalization; agents should represent themselves within the guardrails of your brand voice. The goal is consistency with customer expectations, not rigid uniformity.
12) Slow resolution times
While most customer service teams need to start thinking beyond resolution times, they’re still a tentpole of your team’s performance — and one of the biggest customer service challenges.
Customers expect an immediate response to their questions. This is especially true of younger customers, with 71% of customers between 16 and 24 years old stating that a quick response to questions and issues can drastically improve their customer service experience.
When your team already has more tickets than it can handle, meeting these customer expectations can be a real challenge.
Solution: Give customers instant help with self-service (and prioritize the rest)
Yet again, the answer isn’t to work harder — it’s to work smarter. Rather than trying to answer every question as quickly as possible, set up self-service resources to deflect simple questions and build systems to prioritize the rest of your requests.
I talked about self-service above, but to recap, here are a few easy-to-implement solutions worth considering:
- A robust help center with articles and videos to explain your policies and products
- A public forum where customers can post and answer questions, which becomes a self-service resource for future customers with similar problems
- A customer self-service menu in your chat widget, which customers can click for instant information about their order status or shipping progress
Once you’ve deflected, it’s time to prioritize. While you could prioritize each ticket by hand (sometimes called manual ticket routing), a helpdesk like Gorgias can help you do this automatically. Here’s an example of automation in Gorgias, called a Rule, that will put any customer requests to cancel a recent order (before it ships) into a priority queue:
That’s just one example. Read this full guide to customer service prioritization for more guidance.
Conquer customer support challenges with Gorgias
The common customer service challenges we've explored aren't just annoying — they directly impact revenue and customer loyalty.
Companies need to take CX seriously (and invest accordingly) to boost retention. We all know I’m a Gorgias girlie. My team at Chomps uses Gorgias for support, and it helps us be fast, helpful, and strategic with our support
If you’re an ecommerce company that hasn’t checked out Gorgias, I really recommend giving it a shot. Most of the challenges are going to be extremely difficult to solve without the right tools. And for my money, Gorgias is the best tool for ecommerce support teams.