20 Customer Service Mistakes That'll Hurt Your Design Career

Fact: Customer service is one of the most important factors when it comes to being a successful home designer. For starters, great customer service will help you build relationships with clients and customers. Furthermore, it also helps you stand out from the competition! However, if you make any of the 20 worst customer service mistakes listed below, then your design career could be in jeopardy!

So, what are these 20 worst customer service mistakes? Let’s find out!

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The ABCs of Customer Service

Before we dive into the list of customer service mistakes, let’s take a quick look at the ABCs of customer service first:

  • A – Always be available. Make sure you are accessible and approachable to your customers.
  • B – Be understanding and empathetic. Customer service is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and being understanding of their needs.
  • C – Communicate clearly. Make sure you communicate to your customers what you can and cannot do, as well as any changes that may occur.
  • D – Deliver a great customer experience. Customer service is not just about providing good service. Rather, it’s also about delivering an outstanding customer experience!

Pro Tip: Learn even more about how to provide top-notch customer service to your design clients!

20 Terrible Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid Making

Now let’s take a look at the 20 worst customer service mistakes to avoid as a professional designer:

Mistake #1: Not responding promptly to inquiries or requests.

This is one of the most common customer service mistakes that designers make. Customers expect their inquiries or requests to be answered promptly, so make sure you respond in a timely manner.

Furthermore, the more efficiently you reply to customers on a regular basis, the better off your business will be… And this is backed by stats! For example, one such study concluded that people are a lot more likely to spend money on a business that gets back to their enquiries faster.

Basically, a quicker response on your end means a higher revenue for your design business. So, a good rule of thumb is to respond to your clients within 24 hours.

Mistake #2: Rushing through your interactions with clients.

This is definitely a customer service mistake that can – and probably will – hurt your design business.


Because rushing through your conversations with clients can lead to miscommunication, which can lead to unsatisfied customers. Not to mention, it can also lead to delays in projects, resulting in a loss of revenue.

Therefore, it’s important to take your time and have meaningful conversations with your customers. This will help ensure that they’re happy and their needs are being met, while also ensuring that your design projects run smoothly.

Mistake #3: Not actually listening to what your customers are saying.

Having active listening skills is paramount in customer service. It’s important to actually take the time to listen to your customers and truly understand their needs. This will not only make them feel heard; it will also help you deliver better solutions to their problems.

Remember: Customer service is all about being attentive and really hearing what it is your customers are saying to you!

Mistake #4: Not being proactive enough.

Another customer service mistake that can hurt your design business is not being proactive enough. In other words, taking the time to anticipate and prepare for potential problems, before they even happen. This can help you prevent any issues from arising in the first place – and it’s especially important when it comes to dealing with difficult customers.

So, make sure you stay one step ahead and be proactive in your customer service approach. This will help ensure that any issues are addressed quickly and efficiently, while also helping to foster better relationships with your clients.

Another way to be proactive is to ensure that throughout their design project, they aren’t having to chase you down for updates! Staying in contact with your clients and providing regular updates is key.

Mistake #5: Not asking your customers enough questions.

During your initial consultation, it’s important to ask questions that will help you gain insights into your customer’s goals, needs, and preferences. This is a great way to get the conversation started on the right foot and ensure their satisfaction with the end result of their design project!

Additionally, as the project progresses, make sure to check in periodically with your customers. Ask them if everything is going according to plan, if they’re happy with the progress, or if there’s anything you can do to help.

When you ask your customers questions, you get an even better understanding of their needs and concerns. In turn, this will also show them that you care about meeting their expectations. And obviously, this is a big step in building trust between you and the client!

Pro Tip: Not sure which questions to ask during the first client consultation? This list will help get you started!

Two designers of interior showing color palette to male client and consulting him in office or architectural bureau. Customer service article.

Mistake #6: Being dishonest.

When we say this, we literally mean in every single aspect. Don’t lie to your customers about the completion date, don’t over-promise what you can deliver, and never pass off someone else’s work as your own.

Ultimately, being dishonest with your clients will only create mistrust between you and them – which is the last thing you want! Not to mention, this is a guaranteed way to kill your reputation in the home design industry.

If you’re ever in a position where you don’t know the answer to a client’s question, can’t provide what they’re asking for, etc., just be honest about it. That way, you can work together to find a solution that works for both parties involved.

At the end of the day, honesty is ALWAYS the best policy!

Mistake #7: Your design website is full of misinformation.

Your design website is often the first point of contact for potential customers. As such, it’s important to make sure all the information on there is accurate and up-to-date. If you have outdated and/or inaccurate information, old pictures, broken links, etc., this will give your customers a negative impression of your business.

For instance, if your website says you offer services that you don’t actually provide anymore, this could lead to frustration and confusion for potential customers. Similarly, if you don’t have any newer portfolio photos, this could lead them to question the quality of your work.

Therefore, we recommend taking some time every month or so to go through your website and make sure everything is up-to-date. Doing this will help ensure that any potential clients get the best possible impression of you, as well as have a great experience navigating your website!

Pro Tip: Need help building your business website for the first time? We’ve got you covered!

Mistake #8: You never reply to customers on social media.

Social media is an excellent platform to reach out to customers and showcase your work – so make sure you’re taking advantage of it!

If someone comments on one of your posts, replies to a tweet, or sends you a direct message, be sure to respond. Even if it’s just a simple “Thanks for reaching out!” or “I’ll get back to you soon”, this will show them that their feedback and questions are important to you.

Additionally, replying to social media inquiries in a timely manner will also help foster relationships and build trust between you and your customers.

It’s also important to remember that responding quickly is essential (as we discussed in customer service mistake #1). If someone has taken the time to reach out, they’ll likely be expecting a prompt reply!

Mistake #9: Not being open to constructive feedback/criticism.

In a perfect world, customers would always be 100% satisfied with the work provided to them – and never have any notes on where you could improve. However, in the real world, customers are likely to provide some feedback or criticism (even if it’s constructive).

In these cases, try not to take offense or get defensive. If you get defensive and always respond to constructive criticism negatively, you’re going to earn a reputation as a designer who’s impossible to work with. You also won’t be seen as overly professional.

Instead, be open and willing to listen to their concerns and make adjustments where possible. It’s important to remember that customers’ feedback can often help you become a better designer – so make sure you’re taking it in stride.

Mistake #10: Being unreachable – especially during business hours.

Yes, replying back to customers in a timely manner is always important. But if clients are never able to get a hold of you immediately during your business hours, this could hurt your credibility as a designer.

If you’re always unavailable, customers may start to question your commitment and dedication. They’ll wonder if you’re reliable enough to work with in the long run. Plus, if you’re in the middle of their design project and they run into an emergency, they’ll need to be able to get in touch with you quickly.

To avoid this costly mistake, make sure you have a system in place where customers can reach out during business hours – whether this is through email, phone, or text. This way, if they need something quickly, they can get in touch with you right away and have their questions answered.

Having a reliable customer service system in place will go a long way in showing customers that you take their needs seriously and are committed to providing them with the best possible service.

Mistake #11: Lacking empathy and patience.

In terms of customer service mistakes, this one should come as no surprise. After all, customers take time out of their day to reach out and get help. So, make sure you’re showing them patience and understanding.

Try not to be too quick to judge or jump to conclusions. Instead, show customers that you understand their problem and empathize with them – even if it’s something simple like a technical issue or a question about the design process.

At the end of the day, customers need to feel heard and valued. Thus, showing them some empathy and patience will go a long way in helping to foster positive relationships.

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Mistake #12: Not personalizing your written responses.

Customers WILL be able to tell if you’re using a script when speaking with them… And nothing is more annoying for clients than feeling like they’re speaking to a robot.

When responding to customers, make sure your replies are personalized and genuine. For starters, avoid generic language. Secondly, always use the customer’s name (so long as you know it) when writing a reply.

Finally, be sure to use a friendly and conversational tone of voice. Speak to them as you would a friend – not an automated machine. Doing so will make customers feel more appreciated and respected, which will leave them with a positive impression of you as a designer.

Mistake #13: Only providing one channel for support.

Let’s say your design business only allows customers to contact you by email. Okay, but what if they don’t have an email address? Or what if their issue is too complex for an email and requires a phone call to discuss?

When you limit customers to one form of contact, chances are they’ll leave feeling frustrated and unappreciated. That’s why it’s so important to offer omnichannel support – a.k.a. a place where customers can reach out to you through multiple channels, such as email, live chat, text message, or even social media.

The benefits to offering omnichannel support are backed by stats, by the way! One study by the Aberdeen group concluded that businesses with omnichannel support saw a 7.5% increase in first contact resolution. Moreover, these businesses also saw a 9.5% increase in revenue AND an 89% customer retention rate!

(To put this into perspective, businesses that don’t offer omnichannel support were only recorded at having a 33% customer retention rate.)

Mistake #14: Not delivering the results you promised.

Let’s imagine that you’re in the middle of a project and your client isn’t satisfied with the results. It might be tempting for you to blame them or make excuses as to why the project didn’t turn out as expected.

However, this would be a huge customer service mistake!

When customers hire you, they’re expecting you to deliver what was promised. Not doing so will only hurt your credibility and damage customer loyalty.

So, when things don’t go as planned, always be sure to take responsibility and be willing to rework the project. Doing so will ensure your customers are happy with the final results. And in turn, this will show them that you’re committed to delivering quality service.

Pro Tip: The best way to consistently deliver the results your clients are expecting? Starting your design career with proper certification training in your field! Check out QC Design School’s full list of self-paced, online certification courses for more info!

Mistake #15: Not keeping records of your customer’s history with your design business.

Do you keep records of your customer’s contact history? If not, this is a massive customer service mistake!

Keeping records of customer interactions, such as emails, phone calls or any other form of contact is important for two reasons:

First and foremost, it allows your customer service team to stay up-to-date with customer inquiries and complaints. Secondly, it ensures that customers aren’t repeating themselves if they need to contact you multiple times throughout the project.

Not to mention, keeping records of customer interactions also helps to improve customer service quality. For example, it allows you to track the time it takes to respond to customer inquiries and complaints, as well as the success rate of resolving customer issues.

All this to say, make sure you keep records of customer interactions! Doing so will help you to provide better service, plus keep customers happy and loyal in the long run.

Mistake #16: Handling negative reviews inappropriately.

It sucks, but the reality is, your design business will probably get at least one bad review over the course of your career. Unfortunately, most people only post reviews when they’re angry. Therefore, it’s important to handle negative reviews with care and empathy.

Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Always respond quickly! If a customer posts a negative review, try to respond within 24 hours.
  • Try to understand the customer’s point of view! Put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective.
  • Apologize for any inconvenience caused! Even if you don’t agree with the customer’s point of view, apologizing will show them that you care and want to make it right.
  • Offer a solution! Try to provide the customer with an agreeable resolution to their problem and keep them in the loop as you work to resolve it.

As unpleasant as negative reviews may be, they often provide valuable feedback that can help you improve your customer service in the future. Not to mention, future customers will be looking at these reviews – and your replies to them. Meaning, they’ll be able to tell if you take customer complaints seriously or not.

Negative feedback concept. Choosing 1-star rating review in the survey, poll, or customer satisfaction research. Bad user experience via a smartphone. Customer experience dissatisfied. Poor rating. Customer service article.

Mistake #17: Not paying attention to customer behavior.

Do you pay attention to your customer’s buying habits and behaviors? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to improve your customer service!

By tracking customer behaviors – such as what products they buy, how often they purchase from you, and what type of feedback they provide – you’ll be able to better understand their needs and wants.

This, in turn, will give you the information needed to tailor your customer service strategy and provide a more personal experience.

For example, if you notice that a particular customer comes to you for the same design services every few months, you may be able to offer them a discounted rate or special perks. This shows that you are paying attention to their needs and appreciate their loyalty.

So, pay attention to customer behavior and use it to customize your customer service strategy. Doing so will go a long way in showing customers that you value their business and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

Related: New to the world of professional home design and need help finding clients? Here are 17 strategies YOU can use today!

Mistake #18: Not educating customers when necessary/beneficial.

Your customers are relying on you to provide them with the knowledge and information they need. That’s why it’s important for your customer service team to be able to educate customers when necessary.

For instance, let’s say a customer is having difficulty understanding how certain features work or what type of design service they need… You and/or your team should be able to provide them with detailed but easy-to-understand answers!

Sometimes, simply providing customers with a tutorial video or step-by-step guide can go a long way in helping them get the information they need. Not to mention, it will also make you and your team look more credible and trustworthy.

So, make sure to educate customers when necessary and beneficial. It will help ensure that they get the answers they need and will also strengthen your customer service strategies in the long run.

Mistake #19: Failing to follow up.

Failing to follow up with customers is one of the worst customer service mistakes you can make – hands down! Not only does it show customers that you don’t care about their concerns, but it will also create a negative impression of your business.

Therefore, it’s important to make a habit of following up with customers after each interaction – regardless of whether the interaction was good or bad. Even if it’s just a simple “how are you doing?” or “was there anything else I can help you with?” This will show customers that you care about their needs and wants and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

Finally (and as we mentioned in Mistake #15), make sure to document all customer interactions in your CRM software. This will make it easier for you and your team to follow up with customers in the future.

Mistake #20: Not taking the opportunity to analyze your data.

Data analysis is one of the most powerful tools a home designer can use to improve their customer service strategies! By taking advantage of data analytics, you can uncover valuable insights into customer behavior, buying habits, and more.

This will give you the information needed to tailor your customer service strategies, such as providing personalized offers, discounts, or perks. Ultimately, it will help you create a more positive customer experience.

Plus, data analytics can also help you identify areas of improvement – such as customer service processes and policies.

So, what sort of data should you be regularly analyzing?

  • Customer feedback;
  • Client preferences;
  • And customer purchase/service history with your design business.

All of these data points can provide you with the information needed to improve your customer service strategies and create a better customer experience!

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s wrap things up by addressing some of the most frequently asked questions about customer service mistakes…

Q: How do you handle customer service mistakes once they’ve already been made?

A: The best way to handle customer service mistakes is to apologize as quickly and sincerely as possible. Take ownership of the mistake, explain how you plan to fix it, and be sure to offer a solution. This will go a long way in restoring trust and creating a more positive customer experience!

Q: What are 3 causes of customer service failure?

A: Three primary causes of customer service failure are:

  1. A lack of empathy;
  2. Poor communication;
  3. And inadequate training.

Q: What are 3 common customer service problems?

A: Three common customer service problems are:

  1. Unresponsive customer service representatives;
  2. Long wait times for assistance;
  3. And difficulty navigating the customer service process.

Q: What are the 3 categories of common mistake?

A: The three categories of common mistake are the:

  1. “Unilateral mistake” – when one party misinterprets or misunderstands something;
  2. “Mutual mistake” – when both parties are mistaken about the same material fact (e.g. signing a contract with incorrect information, such as the budget for the design project);
  3. And the “common mistake” – when both parties share the same mistaken belief of the facts (e.g. both parties mistakenly believe they have the same opinion on a matter).

Q: What are the things that need to be checked to avoid mistakes in customer service?

A: To avoid mistakes in customer service, you should check:

  • Your customer service processes;
  • The tone of your interactions with customers;
  • The empathy and understanding you demonstrate;
  • And the clarity of your communications.

By focusing on these four aspects, you can ensure that you’re providing the best service possible and avoiding any customer service mistakes.

Q: What is the MOST important aspect in delivering great customer service?

A: The most important aspect of delivering great customer service is empathy. Empathy is essential in understanding and responding to customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. Furthermore, it helps build trust and loyalty with customers – both of which are important for long-term success in the design business.

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Closing Thoughts

As a home designer, it is essential to provide exceptional customer service – and avoiding common mistakes is key!

We’ve outlined 20 of the worst customer service mistakes to avoid, as well as the data you need to analyze and the questions you should be asking. Customer service mistakes can cost you customers, money, and reputation. So, use this guide to stay on top of your customer service game!

Got any questions, comments, or additional tips/mistakes to add to our list?

Drop them in the comments below. We always love to hear from you!

Happy designing – and thanks for reading!

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