If you’ve been in business for more than a couple of hours, you must have realised by now that Customers are a strategic, essential, vital part of any business.
They tend to have the power to fire anyone in the company, from customer service representatives to the Chief Executive Officer, with the simple decision of using someone else’s product or service.
For this exact reason, if there’s one thing you should be aware of from the get-go, it’s this one: customer satisfaction is the primary ingredient of any business success and customer service is a complex blend of technique and art that often marks the difference between staying on the market or going home.
Here’s a quick list of things an excellent customer service can accomplish:
keep the brand top of mind
gain customer loyalty
and last but not least (and no matter how absurd it may sound at first)
- generate positive feelings and make customers happier
When a customer approaches your customer service, the first interaction has usually the tone and feeling of a very awkward contact. A sense of disappointment, of misplaced trust, flows in the air like a breeze, or maybe it’s a sense of shame for having to ask further questions on something that’s supposed to be picked up quite easily. Either way, the interaction isn’t exactly your regular piece of cake. But, if your company has in place a reliable customer support service, the interaction can quickly turn into something very different: it goes from being awkward to being acceptable and finally, if the customer service representative demonstrates the utmost willingness to solve whatever issue is on the plate, it becomes somehow friendly.
It becomes a joint effort of openness and cooperation and can even get to the point where it strengthens the relationship between your company and the customer, instead of weakening it.
What makes the difference and turns the interaction into a successful piece of history for both parts, is called customer support strategy and it’s made of well-rounded and consolidated practices.
Customer service practices for customer service representatives that bring great results
Ensuring a quick response time
A prompt response has to be the starting point of any and every customer service. Everything else, in the first bit of your customer support strategy, is secondary. Nothing can be as detrimental for the customer as a very late answer or an off-putting long queue over the phone. The helpline must be promptly available and a reasonably quick e-mail should follow any issue request that comes into the customer service inbox. It doesn’t matter if your customer service representative doesn’t have a quick fix ready to tell, all that matters at this point is that customers get the feeling that there’s someone there for them, ready to jump on board and solve the issue or fulfill the request.
Exuding patience and expertise no matter what
One of the necessary traits of customer care employees is, undoubtedly, a zen-like patience. Most of the calls coming into customer service don’t really start off with a friendly and strongly polite tone, but this is not a good excuse to respond the same way. Any hostile tone has to be met with a calm and steady response that is subconsciously able to confirm two things to the customer:
I’m willing to listen to every word you’re going to say
The issue you’re telling me about isn’t scaring me and it’s going to be solved sooner than later
Paying attention to details
Is there anything that your company can learn by what the customer is asking for or complaining about? Often times, we all fall into the trap of considering customer service as a function that needs to be reactive to something: customer service representatives need to react promptly, be useful, be cooperative and giving customers what they need. But what if they could also be proactive? What if they could analyse their interactions with the market and find some useful insights that could help the company improve, strengthen its reputation or even boost sales?
Always having a strong knowledge of the product or service sold
A customer service that lacks a strong command over the product or service marketed by the company is almost as off-putting as calling in with a super urgent request and get stuck for 30 minutes in the phone queue, with a robotic music as a soundtrack to frustration.
While it’s perfectly acceptable (and even extremely realistic) that in some cases the issue requires to be passed to a more technical function, it’s a smart idea to make sure the customer service employees have a vast enough knowledge of the product or service, so that they can help promptly with smaller issues and with frequent questions/requests.
Stating the importance of cooperation and actually meaning it
Teach your customer service team to go the extra mile with customers and you’ll see a huge return almost immediately. While many companies state on the ‘values’ page of their websites that they care about cooperation and support, many of them still lack the ability to turn those nice words into something real for the customers. Providing the bare minimum support to clients won’t help in establishing your company as top of mind, neither it will increase the chance of turning a disappointment-based interaction into a satisfying bonding experience that will make the customers smile secretly. Read into the unspoken, if necessary, but make sure you surprise the customers with a level of cooperation they aren’t expecting.
Take away quote about customer service
Customer service should be treated as an organised function entirely devoted to creating uplifting customer experiences, which are nothing more than collaborative interactions that leave the customer smiling afterward.