There’s no two ways about it. All customers want an excellent customer experience. Without an authentic customer-centric culture, which allows the company to provide fast support and memorable conversations, a business leaves itself vulnerable to its competition.
But how can businesses ensure that they're offering the customer service they ought to?
Check out these 25 hot customer service tips to inspire your customer service strategy:
A smiling face is sure to make your customers feel welcomed. It sets the tone of conversation, making you more approachable. A practical example of this is the Walmart 10 Feet Rule. Sales executives approach any customers within a 10 feet radius, smiling and offering assistance. It’s a tactic that has won them industry accolades.
And the best part is: a smile can also be heard over the phone. People can understand when you're talking to them with a smile in a relaxed and positive manner.
Good customer support comes from mixing technology with the human touch. Several tools and software are available to enhance the customer experience, and most companies are well into the digital era that demands they have that technology available.
Acquire is a full customer experience platform, helping you have meaningful conversations with customers and streamline your customer service processes. It provides features such as chatbots, co-browsing, shared inbox, screen sharing, instant messaging, video conferencing and facilities calling, among others.
Here are some examples of popular customer service tech:
The days of sitting around twiddling your thumbs and hoping to hear back from an email have gone. Live chat is a channel where customers can quickly enter into conversation with your team – and vice versa (think lead generation).
A Forrester Research study showed that 44 percent of online consumers say having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
Helpdesk and ticketing tools capture, convert, and resolve customer queries from one unified, centralized platform.
Keep track of past customer conversations so you can pick up from where you left off and communicate with context. Convert these conversations into an actionable ticket, assigning them to the right department, defining SLAs, and setting levels of priority. You can even include other team members for collaboration.
When using CRM tools, make use of the data available to deliver a tailored experience (e.g. you can wish a customer happy birthday and offer them a small discount as a gift).
CRM tools speed up response time. And when they are integrated with a unified communications platform which gathers all the messages from emails, chats, SMS, voice calls in one spot do an even better job at improving internal and external communications.
This is essential. How else can you ensure that the latest information is available? Remember, a website is the online face of your company, so don't compromise on quality. One of the easiest ways to improve the usability of your website, removing any frustrations and improving your overall customer experience, is to A/B test different versions of your key pages. By doing that, you can ensure your customers have easy access to the most important information.
And, it's always important to look into the best practices of website design to make sure you follow trends and think of the user.
There’s no substitute for a positive attitude. Take Apple for example. A very specific set of employee guidelines detail a firm belief that a positive attitude is integral to good customer service.
People can't help but respond to friendliness – we're hardwired this way.
The customer experience runs right through to the last impression. Never get complacent!
Remember to leave the customer with a smile on their face. A simple ‘have a good day’ may seem obvious, but it can leave a strong lasting impression. Always follow up with customers who called in with issues, and also to prospective customers you've been speaking to. Even if they don't buy now, they may do so in the future (or even better, refer you to others).
Most customers think companies should respond to an e-mail within an hour. For live chat, the expected response time is even shorter. Make sure you have proper routing processes in place so that the right agent gets the right customer request. Also, ensure you properly staffed at all times (and use chatbots for 24/7 service, if needed).
The customer is not always right! They’re human. Maybe they have the wrong information. But, when it comes to correcting them, a gentle approach is vital. Be calm. Say you are happy to help. Remember you are educating them not arguing with them. Above all, don't antagonize them – try to walk in their shoes and understand where they're coming from.
Here's an example response:
"I understand your frustration, I would be annoyed as well. The issue seems to be that your account had your personal email, but you need to add a business email to log in. I'd be happy to fix that for you."
Straight out the 'Customer Support Rule Book'. Whatever the issue, when your company errs, you need to own up to it immediately.
Offer a sincere apology and mention you're talking actions to ensure this won't happen again. If you need some help striking the right tone, you can use ready-made apology email templates.
From the very start, listen. Customers reach out to be heard. Let them explain their issue and take it seriously.
Listening is a great way to learn. Keep your ears open, and you never know what vital information you may get. Maybe it will make all the difference between solving and not solving the problem.
Loads of businesses provide loyalty cards and memberships to their regular customers. These rewards and incentives profoundly impact a customer’s view of your business, and their desire to keep buying from you.
If you want happy customers, reward them. Make them feel wanted with incentives and bonuses recognizing their loyalty. Amazon’s Prime Membership is a good example.
When customers call you, they have a real problem to address, and they expect it to be addressed quickly. An effective customer service workflow will delight customers and will improve their impression of your brand. Without a timely solution, there’s a danger they will look elsewhere next time.
Customer service agents speak on behalf of the business. When an agent says no, the business is saying no. No is never a legitimate final answer. Situations could start with a “no” or we “don’t know”, but as they unfold, you should always find a way to put a positive spin.
Provide alternatives. If one solutions is not available, find another viable option. For example, think about how to respond to customers asking for a discount: even if you have to decline, most times, you can do so in a way that is a win for customers as well.
Customer issues should always be resolved one way or another.
We’ve talked about wasting a customer’s time, but what about wasting your own?
A timely resolution means:
An efficient team stops the queries building up. Take a look at Verizon’s 24x7 and 365 Days Premium Support.
Don’t forget that live chat is a big step towards solving problems quickly.
Only 20 percent of businesses are able to solve an issue at first contact. That means that 80 percent of businesses need at least two attempts!
This is simply not efficient or good for customer experience. Customers expect a problem to be resolved in one interaction. Redirecting calls through better IVR options, connecting with the right people, and training your team makes this possible. Don’t condemn customers to be bounced around forever.
14. Train staff to understand and believe in your products
Untrained support agents are a customer’s worst nightmare.
Avoiding this, means properly training your employees. Give them the confidence and tools to resolve any problem. Training and development programs must cover how to deal with issues, talk to customers, and resolve problems. Before they can be expected to deal effectively with customers, an in depth understanding of the product is needed.
15. Show empathy
Empathy is what will make your customer support team stand out. This understanding forms a strong basis for resolutions all parties are happy with. In a real-time environment, demonstrating empathy needs to be the default approach.
A certain phrase here and there can make a customer feel more at ease:
Building rapport becomes much easier when showing empathy.
People love staying in the loop. Keep customers updated with progress of support tickets, product updates and other processes that concern them, especially if there are unexpected delays.
Always manage their expectations. If there is a change of plans, explain the reasons. Business growth relies on providing constant updates for your buyers.
Only 21 percent of support staff ask for a customer’s name, according to research conducted by Contact Point Client. A big opportunity is being missed here. Customers like being called by their first name. It creates a connection and sense of familiarity.
Of course, there are exceptions: if you are cold-calling a prospective customer, avoid using first names. Once you build a relationship, though, make sure to maintain it.
Thank you. So simple, yet so powerful. It goes beyond simple courtesy. A thank you at the right time helps build trust.
It starts small. Thank customers for providing their information. Thank them when they are being transferred or put on hold. When signing off, a thank you for calling is essential.
It’s estimated that on average, an American household holds membership to 14 schemes in any given year, but trade with only 7 of them regularly.
Customers like to be recognized for their loyalty. Rewarding loyal customers should always be at the forefront of your mind. A robust loyalty program is needed to do this.
Take the successful Virgin Atlantic loyalty program as an example.
After all, new customers will become your next generation of loyal customers if you play your cards right. Offer a small gift on joining. Give them a discount. Send them an email thanking them for joining. You can even send cards and messages from some platforms, How about a gift pack? Something small yet significant to remember you by.
Of course, there is no better way to get new customers than by having a great product in the first place.
Social media is a must for customer service, especially when it comes to fielding customer complaints and queries. Even the multinationals do it. Check out Whole Foods Market.
Some companies resolve issues almost entirely on their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. They are all great mediums for troubleshooting.
According to a survey by Nielson, nearly 50 percent of customers use social media to raise concerns. You must take social media seriously. It’s too big and too powerful to ignore.
You can use social media to
Half of your customers will demand a presence on social media. Can you afford to miss out on that?
Social media reduces the gap between company and customer. Tweeting about the product or service, or engaging through other routes provides a richer experience for the customer.
Reply individually to comments, tweets and messages. Make them feel special, part of a community. It’s a sure-fire way to get customers holding your company close to their heart.
Announce and promote new offers. Sharing information with customers is just a click away with social media, and it helps with engagement.
This is one of the most important customer service tips: successful businesses always do something extra to keep their customers happy. Sometimes you just have to go the extra mile. How about throwing in a discount coupon just to apologize for an inconvenience?
Samsung scored some epic points with their response to a dragon-related request for a free Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.
Stories like these show how a brand can put out a personality, allowing them to connect with the public.
See another great example of walking the extra mile from the stables of the Ritz-Carlton.
Day 1: Your team exhibits enthusiasm and courtesy.
The team offer discount coupons.
Your team has a negative attitude throwing out absurd charges to customers.
Big no-no. Consistency is key when delivering the best support. Make sure a positive attitude is ever-present. This is only possible if you keep the customer in mind at all times.
24. Support should be cross-departmental
With a holistic approach to customer service, collaboration leads to efficiency, improving turnaround times.
A cross-departmental support structure means:
Creating an emotional bond with customers is tough. Gaining trust means understanding a few things:
With all these in place you stand a much better chance of forming meaningful bonds and increasing loyalty.
Follow these 25 customer service tips to ensure your customer team provides an efficient service. Treat customers well, show empathy and keep smiling. Before you know it, you will have not only happy customers but a happy business.
Your strategic and tactical playbook for running customer support in the era of the modern consumer.