When you manage a seemingly endless number of customer service requests each day, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of each client interaction. With the business landscape becoming increasingly competitive year over year, delivering quality customer service can directly impact the success of your company. For customers on the receiving end, a single interaction with your company can completely alter their perception of your brand and services. Delivering poor customer service will not only damage your business’s reputation but it could have a direct, negative impact on your revenue. Because companies now communicate and engage with customers on a multitude of platforms, it’s essential to follow best practices for each one.
Here’s a look at how you can amplify your customer service and implement best-in-class practices on the following 3 platforms: phone, email and social media.
Customer Service via Phone
Do you enjoy being kept on hold for an extended period of time? Heck no. Neither do customers. Always answer the call within two rings - this will help you begin with a great impression (especially if they’re calling your company for the first time).
Let’s See Those Pearly Whites
Even though your customer cannot physically see you, if you smile when you talk, it’ll naturally create a pleasant and positive tone of voice. You’d be surprised how big of a difference smiling on the phone can make.
Keep Your Greeting Concise
When receiving an inbound call, the first thing your customer expects is to be greeted by the company they intended to reach. For example, “Good morning/afternoon/evening A Better Answer, this is Mary, how may I help you?” So, keep it brief and help the customer get to their desired destination as quickly as possible (without being rude, of course).
It is also best to provide a name so the customer knows exactly to whom they are speaking. It creates more of a personalized experience.
Did You Just Interrupt the Caller? Gasp!
That’s a serious customer service faux pas. Never interrupt a complaining customer while they’re airing out their grievances. Your blood pressure may rise. You may have to bite your tongue. But as hard as it may be, it’s an essential part of creating a good experience for your customers. Staff should be trained to make sure all customers feel like they have been heard and understood. You need to make sure the customer feels like they are being heard and well taken care of.
Always Keep the Customer Informed
Your customer should always be in the know. Train your team to provide the client with a list of action items and next steps, followed by an expected timeframe that’s longer than necessary.
Why? Because this gives you an opportunity to remedy their problem faster than anticipated, which makes it look like you really went to bat for them. This is how you create loyal customers and retain business. When you take longer than you stated, they’re going to be oh-so-angry with you.
Here’s an example of what you could say:
“After we hang up, here’s what I plan on doing. I’ll give the supplier a call and I’ll let them know you need another chair. Shipments to our store from the factory typically take a week. When it arrives, I’ll give you a ring, so you can either pick it up or have it shipped directly to you. In the meantime, I’m going to send you a return label for the damaged item. The new chair should arrive within two weeks. Again, I’m sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you, but I’m happy we were able to resolve it for you.”
Handle Angry Customer Like A Pro
First off, telling someone to calm down is not only rude, but it’ll most likely have the reverse effect and drive the customer into an even angrier state. Always respond to irate customers using reassuring language, such as “I can understand how you feel” or “wow, that’s incredibly frustrating!” This shows you empathize with them and you fully hear their complaint. All a customer is really looking for is to be understood and have their problems resolved.
Customer Service via Email
Humanize Your Conversations
Personalize your interactions with the customer. Don’t view emails as transactional but rather as a conversation between two people. Clients want to feel they’re communicating with a real human being - not a robot or automated company messaging service. Use your name, have your photo in your signature and ensure you’re creating a relatable, authentic customer service experience.
Remember to Say Thank You
Despite what you may think, a customer complaint is a golden opportunity to fix something other customers may experience (or have already experienced) - essentially helping your retention rates with other clients. Showing gratitude in business is a huge way to separate your brand’s customer service from a competitor. A simple “thank you for bringing that to our attention” holds a lot of power and will ultimately strengthen your relationship with that client. Always make sure your customer walks away from a conversation knowing you’re very appreciative of their feedback good or bad.
Recommend a Fix or Promise a Result, and Deliver
Your customers can feel unimportant if they have to send you a follow-up email to check on the status of their request. That’s a serious palm to forehead moment. Whatever organization tactic works for you - whether it’s adding a note to your calendar or creating a task in your company’s CRM - make sure your customers know what to expect and deliver on your promise.
Replace Negative Language with Positive Words
The words you choose to you can have an immense impact on the way your customers interpret your emails. Make a concerted effort to replace any negative words with positive ones.
Here’s an example:
Before: “Actually, you can just do this within the settings tab.”
After: “I’m happy to help! You can do this by clicking on the settings tab in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.” Feel free to add some personality or use a smiling emoji if you’d like (of course, only if this seems appropriate).
Customer Service via Social Media
Choose the Right Platform for Your Business
You need to go where your customers are. By using the social channel(s) they’re comfortable using, you’ll be able to deliver a more effective support experience as you’re leveraging their preferred network.
Be Quick with Responses
Our digital ecosystem has created heightened accessibility to social media. People can connect and interact on social platforms from virtually any location or device. This face-paced, “always-on” mentality has changed expectations among customers.
Did you know that 42% of consumers expect to receive a response within 60 minutes on social media? That means, when it comes to social, your team should be making an effort to address complaints, inquiries, and reviews as quickly as possible to meet these expectations.
Use the Right Tone of Voice
Just as in an email, your tone of voice is an essential part of providing excellent customer support. This can sometimes be challenging to pull off when platforms, like Twitter, impose character limits on Tweets. To get your tone just right, you should always tailor your language to mirror that of your customers.
For example: Are they using slang, emojis, or exclamation points? If so, this means you can reciprocate in a similar manner, but always remain professional.
Likewise, if your client sounds frustrated or angry, you want to turn up your empathy and communicate in a tone that’s reassuring, understanding, and apologetic.
Know When to Take the Conversation Offline
While it’s crucial you always listen and respond to your clients through social networks, there will be times when the issue at hand simply cannot be resolved within the platform. When these circumstances arise, it’s perfectly fine to transfer your communication to another medium, such as phone or email.
In order to accomplish this, you need to handle it the right way. Simply directing your customer to email or call for further assistance is going to come off as apathetic, rude, and lacking empathy. No customer wants to just keep getting passed from one person to the next, or one channel to the next, with no actual action taking place to help resolve their issue. Instead, you want to come off as eager to help, using a friendly tone and demonstrating you truly care for the customer and helping them come to a resolution.
Let’s face it: There’s always room for improvement when it comes to customer service efforts.
Because the level and quality of your customer service will ultimately dictate the success (or downfall) of your business, you may want to consider employing the help of a professional answering service who have the expertise to not only handle customer service initiatives but they are trained to handle a variety of situations - from the good, the bad, the ugly - when it comes to speaking with your clients. What’s more, they are typically cheaper than hiring an in-house customer service rep. So, why not give it a try? You can elevate your customer experience to a whole new level with the right talent and techniques in play.