1) Respond as quickly as possible
Two of the most important aspects of customer service fall under the category of responsiveness: quickness and accuracy. Making sure that your support team is quick to respond, and that their responses are accurate, has the potential to take a neutral experience to a standout customer experience — ensuring customer satisfaction along the way.
It’s important to remember, though, that you can’t have one without the other. If your customer responses are quick, but never solve the customer’s issue or address their concerns, you will lose customers. On the flip side, if you provide the customer with the right answers to their questions, but take over a week to do so, you will also lose customers.
It’s all about finding a balance, which often requires a team of customer service representatives who have solid customer service skills as well as customer-centric mindsets.
2) Give thorough answers
Taking the points above one step further, you’ll want to be sure you and your team are attending to your customer’s needs, including giving thorough answers the first time around. Canned responses are a great way to deliver a consistent customer experience. It’s important to avoid a multiple back-and-forth situation, if possible. There are some circumstances where multiple messages may be necessary, but generally speaking, try to be proactive and provide the customer a thorough answer in your first response. This will help keep resolution time lower as well, which further supports a solid service strategy.
To see this in practice, here’s an example of a not-so-thorough answer to a customer who asks about your company’s return policy:
Our return policy is listed on our website.
Customer support associate”
This response technically does answer the customer’s question, but requires them to do more digging around on your website. In some cases, the customer may have already searched your website and perhaps couldn’t find it. To provide the customer with the best service, simply copy and paste the return policy into the email and also provide them a link to the page on your website where the policy can be found. Here’s an example:
“Hi [Customer’s first name],
I’d be happy to help. Our return policy is as follows:
This policy is also located on our website, which you can find at this link. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding our policy.
Thanks and have a great day,
[Customer support associate’s name]”
3) Be friendly, but not too friendly
Another core principle that can help support a positive customer experience is making sure that your communication style is friendly, without being overly friendly. It can be easy to either sound very unfriendly — or overly friendly — via email, so you’ll want to figure out what works best and feels authentic to you.
In finding your own unique voice, you’ll want to be sure you’re staying within already-established brand guidelines. This is also a time when you can empower other members of your team to let their personalities shine.
You can convey a friendly demeanor by starting each email with a friendly greeting like “Thanks for reaching out, X. I’d be happy to help you today.” If you’re responding to an email on a Friday, you can send a closing email with “Have a great weekend.” Additionally, if your brand guidelines support it, you can try to use an exclamation point here or there — avoid more than one in a short email and two in a long-form response.
As mentioned, it is possible to come off via email as too friendly. So, avoid excessive exclamation points and smiley faces. Additionally, you’ll want to steer clear of asking too many personal questions, or being intrusive in your friendliness. An example of this would be asking who they bought this product for, or commenting on where they live. You’ll want to make sure you keep it professional, even if your brand is a bit more laid back.
4) Don’t lose your humanity
When working on a customer success team, it can be very easy to see an email from a customer as just another ticket number — especially if you are answering tickets for the majority of your day. Because of this, it can sometimes be tempting to be short with a customer who may have a difficult personality, or who may be extremely confused.
In these moments, when your patience is being tested as a customer service professional, it’s best to take a step back and remember that the person on the other side of the email is also human. Practicing empathy can be helpful.
Even if you don’t believe that a customer deserves your kindness at a certain moment, it’s important to go the extra mile regardless.
If you’re in a situation where your knee-jerk reaction is to snap back at a customer who just snapped at you, it can be helpful to remind the customer that you’re doing everything you can to help them resolve their issue. This could also mean going as far as offering to hop on the phone to help them. Showing empathy toward the customer even if they’re not showing it to you can help disarm them. It’s a nice reminder to them that you are also human.
5) Treat everyone with respect
In customer service, respect can and does go both ways between you and the customer, but your mindset should always consider respect. Beyond the basic fact that respect is a vital part of a healthy society, in business, respect can make or break an experience. Whether it be an interaction with you and a coworker, or you and a customer, if there isn’t a foundation of respect it can make interactions a lot harder to navigate.
Similar to keeping humanity in mind when dealing with difficult customers, respect is also something that you, as the customer success professional, may have to offer up before the customer does. Unfortunately, that’s simply part of the job. However, once you show that you’re capable of respecting a customer, they will usually come around and reciprocate. A healthy mindset around respect always reflects in your interactions.
6) Be honest and transparent with your customers
The last and final important customer service principle is approaching every situation with honesty and transparency. Especially with all of the ups and downs related to the pandemic over the last two years, people value honesty and transparency now more than ever before, and it’s reflected in customer service interactions.
If your team is struggling to keep up with an influx of customer emails and you’re taking an extra day or two to respond, don’t lie about the reason to make the customer feel better. You don’t need to give the customer all of the details, but be honest. You could try something like this: “I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Our team’s email volume has been very high the past few weeks. I appreciate your patience.”
This again reminds the customer of the humanity of the situation. An honest response invites the customer to see you and your team as people, just like them, who are working hard to keep everything moving. This type of response can also open the door to helpful customer feedback.
Why good customer service is important
The customer’s value cannot be overstated. Beyond simply being a nice person, quality customer interactions have proven to be good for business. If you want to take your customer service one step further, you may want to consider adopting a customer service support platform.
Now that we’ve covered some of the most important principles of customer service, let’s dive into exactly why good customer service is so important.
It improves customer retention rate
First, it’s proven that customers stay around longer when they have a good experience. If they don’t have a good experience, they are more likely to leave.
In fact, 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, as reported by the Customer Service Barometer, fielded by American Express. On the other hand, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service, according to HubSpot Research.
It may also be comforting to know that you don’t need to be perfect all the time. According to Salesforce Research, if a company’s customer service has historically been excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again even after a mistake.
It’s free PR & marketing
Another reason good customer service is vital to the success of your business is that it can easily act as free public relations and marketing. Happy customers will speak favorably about your company, and will likely promote your business to their friends, family, and coworkers, potentially creating new customers.
Word of mouth is extremely important for small businesses and large businesses alike. A report from Temkin Group finds that 77% of customers would recommend a company to a friend if they had a positive experience.
Another way to tap into word-of-mouth marketing is to encourage customers to review your company or product. Reading reviews online is popular among most consumers. As of 2020, Brightlocal reports that 87% of consumers confirm that they read online reviews for local businesses. And in many cases, online reviews are more trusted by consumers than personal recommendations. According to Mckinsey, 75% of online consumers shared this perspective.
It boosts your business’s reputation
Lastly, good customer service directly ties to your business’s reputation. Every business wants to be known as a “good business,” so focusing on achieving excellent customer service will help get you there.
Historically, reputation has always been important for a business but it is especially important in our modern digital age. In our current landscape, there are multiple communication channels available where consumers can immediately post online about their experiences. That’s why it’s vital to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Considering the role of social media specifically is also important. You never know which customer may have a substantial social media following and will be sharing their experience with followers. This has the potential to make or break companies. In fact, when faced with poor customer service, 20% of consumers reported that they would complain publicly via social media, according to New Voice Media.
Enhance your customer service experience with TestBox
If you’re feeling energized about creating a quality customer service experience, you may now be thinking about what types of platforms you could use to enhance it, or how you could upgrade your current customer support platform.
We know there are a ton of options out there, so to make the comparison process easier, check out TestBox. TestBox helps identify software solutions based on your company’s priorities, letting you compare your options, and even easily share these options with your team and stakeholders.