With competition increasing, good customer service has become core to a company’s success. But delivering quality products alongside outstanding customer service is a big challenge.
Getting it right means total buy-in from everyone involved. Your support team has to come up with flexible solutions, adapting to the particular demands of the situation. Place trust in your team. Let them find ways to better serve your customers. In turn, the company reputation will improve.
You can never be sure what questions, queries and feedback customers will come up with, but some challenges are definitely more common than others.
To give an insight into how to deal with tricky questions, let’s take a look at the top 8 customer service challenges that you might have to face and the best ways to resolve them.
1. When buyers ask you a question you cannot answer
There will be times customers catch you off guard with questions you simply can’t answer. It can happen. If a customer wants to be updated on the shipment of purchase, then the seller might not have an accurate answer. Logistics are often handled by a 3rd party courier.
However, this doesn’t mean the executive should reply by saying simply ‘I don’t know’.
What to do:
This is a chance for your team to direct the customer down the right path, or, if possible, retrieve the information themselves.
Even without a concrete answer, a question should never be met with a shrug of the shoulders.
Your customer may not be concerned with your predicament, but you must strive to understand theirs. Avoid dismissing them with ‘Sorry, we don’t have an answer to that question’. It may then be tempting to provide a guesstimate or lie. This too should be avoided. A wrong answer is the last thing aggravated customers need. Instead, acknowledge the question, requesting time to find the answer, and guarantee a call back as soon as possible.
2. When you have to transfer the call
“Your call is vital to us. Please hold while we connect you: is one of the most irritating messages that a shopper can hear” Source: American Express
Customers hate automated messages.
‘Your call is important to us, please stay on the line while we transfer you’.
But sometimes calls need to be transferred to better support customer enquiries. The sales department can’t talk about pending bills and charges.
Callers are mostly kept in the dark as to why they are being transferred. Instead, the situation should be explained clearly.
‘Sir, your call is being transferred to the ABC section so you get an appropriate answer to your query.’
What to bear in mind:
Without the right information, customers may be fearful of an unhappy experience ahead. Handling call transfers well is vital to customer satisfaction.
Customers will feel much more comfortable knowing that they are being redirected appropriately. At this point the right answer may just be a conversation away.
3. When your customer service representative does not have the right tools to help the customer
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review suggests that reducing customer effort makes the return of the customer more likely, positively reflects on the amount they spend and gives a boost to the word-of-mouth strategy, ultimately makes them more loyal.
Today's customers are crazy busy. They want you to invest in the latest tools and technology to streamline transactions and lessen unnecessary communication.
Sadly, according to Calabrio, “60% of customer service representatives said they didn't have the right tools or technology to handle complex problems.”
If your customer service representative lacks the necessary tools to address a problem, it's only natural they will shy away from dealing with the same problems in future.
What to do:
Adopting visual engagement tools like Acquire equips your support team to talk to customers in real-time, allowing them to share screens, access customers’ web resources and take the right action to ensure a fast resolution.
Acquire helps break down barriers with customers by providing a platform to visually interact with them.
You cannot hide behind the veil of technology if your team is incompetent. Whatever technology is used, you have to make sure it is implemented properly across all departments. Questions can then be tackled faster, providing more effective support.
4. Understanding what the customer wants and delivering it along with something extra
Sometimes customers have difficulty explaining their issue. This is completely normal. They may not know your processes and technical terms, only that they are disappointed your product or service did not meet their expectations.
Get to the bottom of the problem. Try to reassure customers you will deliver the best possible solution for them personally. Once you show empathy, the aggrieved party will feel better. Your team must ask questions, listen, check the statistics, and figure out the trends.
What this means:
On top of this understanding, you also have to accept and apologize for fault at your end. If your product is malfunctioning, you must accept responsibility. Phrases such as ‘We are sorry for the trouble and we will see that the matter gets resolved quickly’ work well to show a human touch. Check out some books on the topic, like The Customer Rules or The Art of Apology.
Remember though, apologizing and accepting responsibility is not the end of the story. A proper solution is needed. Deliver on your promises to make things better.
5. When your customer service workflow is not in line with your customer's journey
According to Harvard Business Review, a customer journey map is simply a diagram that illustrates the steps (touch-points) customers go through when engaging with your company.
Aligning customer service workflow with your customer journey means understanding the information customers may need at each stage.
Mapping out customer support workflows may identify bottlenecks or breakdowns affecting the experience.
You may be an e-commerce agency with a top-notch store, brilliant product descriptions and a seamless checkout process, but when customers want delivery updates, your support agents are clueless.
Customer service agents need access to all the information to assist customers through their journey effectively.
The more accurate and seamless each workflow is, the better stitched together the overall customer journey will be.
What to do:
Draw a customer journey map, making support available at every touch-point. Provide the information your customer service agents may need to address customer queries and understand the role of each employee in dealing with them.
Make sure feedback is taken on board.
Encourage collaboration in solving customers’ issues.
Try setting SLA for minimum response and resolution rate.
Easier said than done though!
To help you streamline this process, adopt a customer communication tool. This will allow you to address customers from a unified platform, in the right way.
Collaborating with other teams or accessing customer histories becomes easy. It doesn’t even require switching between tabs.
6. Facing the wrath of the buyers during a crisis
Customer support teams are bound to encounter angry customers. Every executive in your team will be exposed to it. The challenge comes from reaching a satisfying conclusion for everyone involved, all in a calm and efficient manner.
A customer may be angry for a variety of reasons, it is your job to find the right solution. Heated arguments with customers on the phone or through e-mail are a strict no-no, as is getting defensive without providing a solution.
What to do:
Take a leaf from Disney’s book. Adopt the HEARD Technique. In HEARD, your team must Hear, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, and Diagnose. This technique calms customers and helps provide the right solution. You can also analyze how the issue was solved, making it easier to handle a similar case next time.
Customer Service is tricky. Challenges are everywhere. Providing your team with the confidence to tackle the next case effectively will help create a bond with customers and improve your reputation.
7. Exceeding Customer Expectations
“The key is to set realistic customer expectations & then not to just meet them but to exceed them- preferably in unexpected and helpful ways” – Richard Branson.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job, every day to make every important aspect of the customer service a little bit better” – Jeff Bezos
The modern marketplace demands a customer-centric approach. Without this, it is impossible to succeed. Customer’s expectations constantly change. Fulfil those expectations by staying one step ahead, keeping up to date through customer feedback and the latest market trends.
How to do it:
Continuous research and data gathering helps to improve customer service. Data about customers can be gathered from print media, television, telephone, and social media. The end result is delivering the best possible customer service.
Exceeding customer expectations involves:
- Collecting Customer feedback. Address the areas highlighted for improvement to bolster brand image.
- Train your customer representatives Empowering them in this way boosts confidence and in turn brand image through creating an amazing customer experience.
- Focus on the small things. Adding a personal touch will help exceed customer expectations.
8. Talking to Angry Customers
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
Skilled customer service executives are vital in handling angry customers. These customers need someone to listen and provide an empathetic ear. They are suffering and it’s not their fault.
How to deal with it:
Apologize sincerely. Calmly explain you are sorry the experience did not meet their expectations. Accept responsibility and speak politely.
‘I am sorry for your experience, I’ll make sure that you get the best solution’
It’s tough to keep customers, but let’s face it, without customers, there is no business.