Customer service is a central driver for return business. In a day and age of online reviews, it is also an essential piece in gaining new business. Here are the keys to keys to good customer service we’ve learned over a decade as the top online check writer.
If you have bad customer service, current clients and customers will always be plotting to leave and new potential business will always be exposed to unsavory reviews of your business.
Customer service quality is largely determined by executives and managers who care to make it better. In other words, it doesn’t take some logistical implementation nightmare to improve poor customer service. Also, check your emails for customer service mistakes.
It takes effort and passion and a little education over the matter. So when your customers call customer service they get real help in an easy and pleasant manner.
Here are a few ways you can improve customer service for your company. We know a thing or two about customer service since we won these two awards!
Identify Each Aspect in The Customer Service Process
Before you start overhauling things, you need to identify every component that makes up your customer service chain and the importance of customer service.
Where do clients and customers interact with customer service? Is it only returns? Or are their client services where clients are able to phone in and discuss issues. If you have a sales number online, it’s possible that salespeople will receive customer service calls, will they know what to do in those situations?
The last thing you want is an angry customer more infuriated because they felt a sales support staff member didn’t understand their issue.
Also, how much of your customer service is done online using chat and email? Remember, chat and email exchanges are often misconstrued, and things are taken out of context.
Whether it is an online customer service exchange or a phone call, empathy over the customer’s bad experience is going to be key in neutralizing the issue.
Often times, corporate templates have support agents saying “sorry for your bad experience” right away.
It’s a good idea.
But it can seem scripted (because it is) and be condescending (it usually isn’t).
Being more “real” can go a long way.
“I really hate to hear this, I’d be upset also. I can get this fixed for you, just give me a few minutes.”
That’s less scripted and seemingly more authentic.
If the customer wants to go on and on over the issue, allow them to expend the energy.
The more they talk about the issue, the more “angry/frustrated” energy is expended.
There is no need to throttle someone who’s therapeutically calming themselves down.
Be Concise In Your Solution
Once you’ve listened to the issue and you’ve empathized over the matter, its time to quickly present the jaded customer with a plan to resolve the matter.
Don’t overcomplicate the “fix.”
You need to convey in as concise a manner as possible that you are going to resolve the issue. You need to make sure the customer realizes, in short order, that they won’t need to do too much work on their end.
Educate Customer Service Agents
Nothing is worse than a customer service agent that has no idea about the company’s products.
Make sure your agents are soundly educated over all things that pertain to your company’s products before putting them on the phones or chat messengers.
A confused customer service agent will only make a bad situation much worse.
There Is No Crying In Customer Service
Many customer service reps are told to “disconnect if an angry customer is offensive.”
Back in the day when I was a 20-year-old airline agent, I’d have been fired for hanging up on an angry customer.
Make sure your threshold for disconnects is truly appropriate or you risk making a hostile situation completely nuclear.
Admit Your Wrong
If you agents spend all their time defending the company’s products to a jaded customer, your company is going to gain a reputation as a combative customer service team.
You don’t want that.
Obviously, if there are liability concerns or concerns over customers gaming the system, you may not be able to accept blame.
However, for all other exchanges, just take the blame and move on.
Tell the customer you plan to follow up and make sure the situation is resolved. In fact, I suggest you set up a time.
“I’ve sent you a replacement blender, it should arrive by Thursday. Do you mind if I follow up with you on Friday to make sure you are taken care of?”
You can give the customer the option for a phone or email follow up.
This will leave a good taste in the customer’s mouth.
Allow customers the option to give their feedback over their customer service experiences. You can learn a lot from surveys that allow you to constantly improve your customer service funnel. Take steps to learn what your customers really want.
Customer service is often looked at as a hostile environment. But you don’t need to hire trained bouncers to take these calls.
Rather, hire empathetic and patient people to fill these roles.
Customer service can be an extension of your brand, it should impress, not frustrate. Everyone wants to know how the customer service of a company that they plan to buy a product from is.
Make sure that you give your customers a reason to review your customer service highly.
Customer service is the lifeblood of most businesses. If you have clients or sell products or services to consumers, your ability to make them happy will largely serve as the driving factor which fuels your success. If your clients or customers are angry at you all the time, you better hope that your service or product is so unique and so good that the clients and customers can’t switch. In most cases, if you are successful, competition for some of your market share is always at least on the horizon.
If you have crappy customer service, like some of our competitive check writing companies, you might be exposed to big financial losses. Often times, poor communication in a company results in poor customer service. This is often due to the front lines (those most likely to interact with customers) aren’t given appropriate communications or expectations. Additionally, they may not be given enough responses to work with. If you are a company owner or executive, you need to hit those front lines sometimes and see what the heck is going on so you can diagnose any problems before they spread like a plague throughout your business.
So how can you make sure you are doing the absolute best you can with customer service?
First, it begins with who and how you hire. If you hire good, motivated people, that can go long ways in making sure your customer service is good. This may mean paying fewer people more money. If you want quality, you might well have to spend on it.
Your training program will matter. Don’t just hire customer service agents, show them the software and how to answer a call, and then leave them to their own devices. Train them on your company philosophy! Recruit really great customer service agents to serve as trainers and mentors for those who are just learning. Starbucks employees are super accommodating because Starbucks has created that culture by empowering their employees to learn best practices. They do everything the Starbucks way, which means smiling and having a more interesting look on their face. They appear to care if your darn coffee is right! Your company should pass down similar philosophy! And those who perform the best should be in charge of training. It is hard to teach someone to smile, often times this is learned by watching others. Make sure you feature prominently those employees who exemplify your business motto!
Your customer service should note who they are talking to. Don’t throw trendy pop culture slang at the elderly and don’t be too formal to a millennial. Know your audience and cater your customer service engagement appropriately.
The customer is always right. I know that it has been said, but it can’t be said enough. Yes, there are extreme cases of customers taking advantage of this policy, however, for the most part, abide by it. In this day and age of online reviews, you really don’t want a build up of too many bad reviews.
If you get a bad review online (it is going to happen), be nice in your response. Don’t be defensive. However, if you are right as a business, don’t shy away from stating it. If a customer purchased something and is upset that it doesn’t have a functionality you never claimed it does, mention that. Just don’t be aggressive and defensive. Be nice. And yes, responding is the better option to trying to have the review removed. Many customers want to see how you handle complaints. This can often be an indicator of how good your customer service is. So in some ways, a bad online review can be an opportunity for you to show how great your customer service actually is.
Small talk is good. Egregious small talk is bad. The metrics matter. If you are bogged down by long customer service calls, this means more and more customers waiting to get on the line and have their needs met. Chatting it up can be a good and friendly thing to do, but you don’t want to do it so much so that you end up causing delays for other customers in need.
Don’t eat or drink during calls. Come on man! No one wants to hear the sounds of slurps and chews. Allowing your customer service team to eat or drink at their desk is fine, but make sure they understand that they should not eat and talk at the same time. It can really make your customer service sound super lazy and uncaring.
Make sure the customer agrees that his or her issue is now resolved. Saying things like, “did I resolve all your issues this afternoon?” can really help clarify that your customer service goal was met with flying colors. It leaves a good taste in the customer’s mouth after they hang up with you. You want to leave a lasting good impression.
If a customer is absurdly angry, allow them to vent. Do not get confrontational as the customer might just be spouting off accusations that they do not fully believe. Remember, they feel let down by some aspect of your product. Their anger is OK. Let them vent and have a welcoming inflection to your voice. They will likely calm down when they sense your empathy.
Customer service can be challenging, no doubt, but your ability to conquer it could be the driving factor in your product’s growth. Many companies have risen to the top of the pack just based on their ability to make customers happy. Customers are more apt to purchase a product from a place that has good customer service because the customer sees that as less risk when buying.
Let’s focus on the number one way to grow, gain customers and keep returning clients. Customer service is crucial. You definitely want to be great in this department. One slip up or bad attitude and it is off to social media to write a bad review. Take pride in your product and brand. Handle customers with care. Here are the best secrets for fantastic customer service.
Think Of It As If You Were The Customer
Look, I know how this goes. I’ve been on both sides. What is most important is that you understand what the customer is feeling. We might deal with tons of customers in one single day, but they are relying on us to think of them individually. It’s frustrating to not receive something on time, or get what was promised. Of course, it might not be anyone’s fault, mistakes happen, but you have to find ways to rectify the issue and make it right. Don’t allow things to fester…this just makes people angry.
Make Your Customer Number 1
Make every customer and client exchange the most important. Motivate employees to provide amazing customer service and train them to think on the fly. This is life, and crappy things happen. To provide the right training tools to solve problems and keep clientele happy. Remember every encounter is a form of customer service.
This one is tough and takes a real man or woman! Own up if you make a mistake. Teach your employees to own up to their mistakes as well. Don’t makeup excuses. The longer the customer is unhappy, the longer and more dreadful the event will be. And most likely you will not have a returning customer and once again, a bad review will be online. Take responsibility, apologize and solve the problem.
Reach For The Stars
Reach for the stars while staying real folks. Don’t commit to a deal that cannot possibly be delivered by the tight deadline you are giving yourself. Be realistic. Focus on the client’s needs and what their key aspects are. Assume there will be common delays and when you come up with a better service (and faster than you promised), you will have a very happy customer.
We all get upset. It happens and sometimes for legit reasons. So, of course, customers will get upset from time to time and you will feel attacked. The best and only solution to this is to be calm and collect. There is nothing worse than getting defensive and angry in return. Learn to listen. Once you calmly listen to the customer, try to fix the problem and be sure to make it known that you understand why they are frustrated.
Don’t forget that time is of the essence here. Every customer’s situation is time-sensitive. Be responsive and as much as possible. Even if you do not have the issue solved right then, send an email or return the call to say that you are working as fast possible to handle the situation at hand.
Ugh. Customer service. Just saying it sends chills up my spines and rusty nails directly into my shins (hey sorry for the visual, but it’s true). Customer service is the bane of most company’s existence. Making people happy is freaking hard, that’s just the truth, particularly if you are at fault for their issue. Obviously, not all customer service is about the negative, but as humans, that’s how we seem to recall things. We only remember the bad.
So how can you and your company make customer service a better experience?
1) Make your customer service reps a little happy, also.
This one is always weird to say. Many people think it is absurd that my first tip consists of making your customer service reps happier. I mean, isn’t the point to make your customers and clients happier? Yes, that is the point, but that idea begins and ends with the reps you have working over email and phone or even in person!
Always let them know that they are an intricate part of the company! Many customer service reps feel like they are a small part to a big machine, largely overlooked when it comes to the company’s bigger goals. Letting them know how important they are can really set a better tone. Maybe give out some movie tickets each week to top performers. Reward them when and where you can. This warmth will be conveyed through them and to the customer or clients.
2) Use their information to your advantage.
Customer service reps are really overlooked when it comes to their knowledge about the company and its products and services. They are in the line of fire, something a manager, CEO or CFO just isn’t in. They hear the complaints first hand. Many of them will have amazing feedback and even great ideas for improvements. Having a line of dialogue open with customer service reps is a just smart business!
3) Make sure they know nothing on the job is personal.
The most difficult part of being a customer service rep is an angry customer. Customers, when angry, can be brutal to customer service reps. It’s important to make sure that customer service reps know that angry customers, no matter what they say, aren’t being personal. I know it sounds odd, but you reminding them of this goes a long way in helping to resolve issues. If customer service reps have a bad call, they may not be as peppy for the next call. You want your companies main voice to be happy and comforting, not jaded and bitter.
4) Massages go a long way.
Did you know it’s super cheap to have a masseuse come into the office and set up in the break room or conference room? Your customer service reps are stressed out a lot, so why not have a day a month where they can sign up for a free massage? Not rocket science here, folks!
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