It’s hard to imagine that less than a decade ago, customer service was still perceived as an organizational support function. Today, it’s evolved into an important driver for growth, engagement, and retention. If your customers get frustrated, they’ll not only churn—they’ll publicize why they’re frustrated. Thanks to the Internet, consumers have instant access to social media, review websites, and competitors.
Mess up, and you’ll find yourself under a firestorm.
Luckily, stellar customer support comes from a simple formula:
(1) care about your customers
(2) understand their needs
(3) work tirelessly to help them succeed.
In the world of business, a little empathy goes a long way. Here are six tips for taking your customer service from basic and lackluster to over-the-top unforgettable.
1 – Get rid of your scripts
Human beings like to talk to other human beings—not robots. Especially when we’re angry. We want people to listen, care, and work with us to find a resolution.
While a script might seem ‘essential’ for troubleshooting a heated situation, it will actually hold us back.
As Courtney Duhring, client service manager at Eventbrite told OPEN Forum, “People have this image of a call center as robotic and scripted.”
“That’s not what they find when they contact us. We look to individual team members to solve problems, think of best-practice advice, and show support in whatever way they think is best. Listening in on phone conversations, it’s very clear that our team members are making connections.”
Without scripts, we’re more present and in-the-moment. We can feel what our customers are feeling, and even if we might not have immediate answers, we can figure out what we need to find them.
2 – Acknowledge your customer’s’ needs
People like to feel heard. One of the best ways for customer-facing teams to make an impact is to always reiterate their customers’ asks.
One sentence – “let me repeat what you said to make sure that I understand” – is the ultimate sign that we’re listening and that we care. The best way to acknowledge that we’re on the same page as our customers is to take a step back and verbalize that we’re present.
It’s a simple way to make an impact with every conversation.
3 – Make customer service an organization-wide priority
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to isolate customer service to just one team or department. The fact is, however, every employee needs to be a customer champion.
At Adobe, for instance, engineering teams take turns commandeering the company’s live chat software. As Charlie Scheinost, engineering manager at Adobe, explains in this talk for the 2014 Lean Startup Conference, the opportunity to interface with customers is invaluable—by interfacing with customers through live chat conversations, product development teams can see common pain points first-hand.
The end result is that solutions are more closely tailored to their customers’ needs.
4 – Smile and stay confident
A positive attitude is a force of nature—especially during heated moments.
When we’re angry, we often forget to see the silver lining: that there are solutions and alternative options available. To ensure that conversations remain constructive, we need to redirect our energy.
Smiles are contagious, and we can lighten tough situations when we exude positive energy. Even when customers aren’t with us face-to-face, they can sense that positive energy.
When we’re confident, we’re better positioned to guide our customers and keep conversations constructive.
5 – Preempt problems
The best way to keep customers engaged, happy, and successful is to prevent problems before they have a chance to happen.
Through digital analytics, it’s possible to see where customers are having trouble – common points of friction and areas of drop-offs. Follow-up conversations can illuminate the reasons behind these trends, along with opportunities for potential solutions.
We can use technology to identify pain points before they have a chance to materialize. We can then reach out to our customers and reaffirm that we’re noticing, listening, and interested in their feedback.
By staying in tune and empathizing with their needs, we help our customers succeed before they have a chance to fail.
6 – Learn
With every failed moment comes an opportunity to learn. Even the most well-intentioned and empathetic organizations make mistakes—which is perfectly alright as long as we’re always learning and growing.
Never let a mistake crush your team’s morale. Instead, take a step back, analyze the reason behind the failed relationship, and make your next customer experience better.
Value-driven companies will always find more customers. That’s why we need to learn from our mistakes and always make the next experience better. Rather than dwelling on the past, our minds will be in-the-moment, to better support the customers in front of us now.
The secret to stellar customer service is no secret at all. It’s a sense of empathy and empowerment that starts with positioning our customers at the center of our organizations.
Customer success is every team’s responsibility—not just the employees responsible for commanding call centers and phone lines.
Stay rational, have a heart, smile, and get everyone in your company working together to help your customers find the best path forward. When you’re genuine and always looking to improve, your brand will be unforgettable.
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