Polite, courteous, nice — important, but not enough. Your customers are smart enough to know if you’re faking it. The old school techniques are indeed a must, but it can only take you just so far.
Customer service has moved far away from the traditional back-end operation and cost center, to a brand focussed profit center. Source: Oracle
Everyone has got the basics right. What’s next? How do you gain the competitive edge? Time to think beyond the fundamentals that everyone has cracked already.
These 15 ideas are easy to implement when you’re trying to improve customer support.
Upsell and cross-sell only when it’s appropriate
Not every interaction is not a sales opportunity. For example — a customer who has had problems with the product in the recent past is not going to appreciate an upsell at all. Let him be happy with the existing product for a while. Too much cross-promotion can kill conversation.
Never leave your customer wondering, follow through
The moment you say ‘as soon as I can,’ there is a good chance that the customer has already started thinking about trying your competition’s product. Be as specific as you can, tell him that problem might take X number of hours to solve.
If you do not have a solution within the promised time, call up and tell the customer that you are working on it, and it might take X more hours.
Reduce customer effort
Do not make customers fill in a form when they’re asking for help. Troubleshooting? Set up a call and walk them through it, do not send a manual. Notice a customer trying to do something? Do it for him, and send him an e-mail. Being proactive is always better than being reactive.
Read these five simple strategies to reduce customer effort.
Treat customers like valued partners
Tell customers about large scale changes. Tell them that a new product feature is in the works, and ask for their feedback. Tell them about your major achievements, your failures.
- Customer – I really wish your product has X feature.
- Bad response – I’m sorry but we do not have this at the moment.
- Great response – Oh that’s a great suggestion. We’re working on incorporating some new features. We’ll put this idea across to our product managers. We’ll let you know how it goes.
The difference? You come across like a human being who is paying attention to actual needs. It is important to put customer service ahead of everything else.
Make your service reps a part of product sprints
To be able to respond to customers when they talk of product features, your service reps need to be well aware of the new features that are queued to be added.
Not only that, they should also be aware of experiments that have failed, and why those features did not come to life. The more product knowledge, the better.
Be honest when you screw up
Transparency is crucial when building trust with customers. Apologize when you screw up and offer a solution. The best way to deal with a mistake is taking responsibility, apologizing and making up for it.
Word of your honesty is bound to get around. Honesty also opens the door to sympathy, the customer will be able to relate with a genuine problem (say a technical snag). Here’s five reasons to stay honest with your customers.
Kill the phone tree
There is nothing more irritating that ‘press 1 for…’ Always have a human answer the call, and he/she can direct the customer to the right person.
What this means — it took considerably less time for a problem to be acknowledged by a human. It removes the uncertainty that one has to bear while pressing those numbers to reach the right department.
What it boils down to — good word of mouth.
Do the unexpected. There is no better way to please a customer than by giving him something he was not expecting at all.
Instead of just wishing a customer well on his birthday, give him a week of free service. That’d make anyone happy. I’m pretty sure he’ll tell the story to his friends.
Send a handwritten note
It’s good to break the digital plane every once in a while. Traditional channels have a way of connecting with people on a personal level. Think about how it feels to get a handwritten letter from someone, with an actual ‘human’ signature.
Here’s how HEX, a fashion tech accessory brand built customer loyalty through handwritten notes.
Never question the customer’s point of view
If he expects your product to perform in a certain way, there can be numerous reasons behind it, (a) your marketing folks promised too much, or (b) your competitor has that feature. Be patient when the customer asks for something, tell him that you will find a way to accommodate his request, also tell him what steps you plan to take. It will make him feel more involved.
Follow through. Call him, and tell him what happened, even when you could not fulfil his request. This is taking customer support above, and beyond.
As many as 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. This simple gesture might save another customer from leaving.
Build an omni-channel knowledge base
Every customer interaction, across channels, should be recorded in a knowledge base. If a customer calls the company helpline, and the service rep is able to quote the comment that the customer had posted on Twitter six months back, it’s going to leave a lasting impression. It’s a great way to communicate that you are listening, that you care. It builds trust.
“Knowledge management is the one investment that consistently pays back.” Jeff Lundal, Oracle
Offer incentive for suggestion
Encourage customers to suggest ways to improve the product experience. Offer a week of free usage when a customer makes a suggestion. This practice will make the customer feel more connected to the organization. Taking the conversation beyond the usual problem-solving-sessions is a great way to make the customer think for the company.
Quote the problem, and the steps that you will take to solve the problem, right before you end the conversation. It leaves the customer with a sense of security, that his concern has been addressed carefully by another human being. It ensures that the company is on the same page as him. It does not give him a chance to get restless, to think of the competition.
It can be used to unlock motivation among employees, and will lead to positive, productive interactions. Leaderboards, contests, badging and other techniques break up the monotony of the day, and customer interactions get better.
Offer an easy way out
Do not hide the ‘unsubscribe’ behind numerous layers. A customer who is ready to leave is exasperated, and unhappy anyway; the tricky exit route will only aggravate the situation.
An easy exit will at the least tone down the bad word of mouth that is bound to follow. Letting them go with ease when they want to, well that’s good customer service too.
What have you done to take your customers’ experience above, and beyond?
Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of GrexIt (http://grexit.com), an app that lets you share Gmail labels with other Gmail users. Niraj works on programming, customer support and sales, and also contributes to design and UI. He’s a music aficionado and loves to play the guitar.
Article Source: SiteProNews