When it comes to customer service, it can feel like there are constant challenges to overcome. In one instance, you're lacking helpful answers when a customer needs them. In another, you're navigating a conversation with an angry customer. It can get really overwhelming, fast.
Luckily, there's no shortage of things customer support reps can do to help avoid (or at least prepare for) these difficult interactions.
Below, we’ve compiled some helpful tips and solutions for your team to keep on deck for those... Stickier situations.
Let's dive in!
We’ve identified nine of the biggest challenges you may face in customer service. Let’s dive into some of these daily hurdles, and how you can handle each of them with ease!
The amount of time it takes you to respond to a customer can make or break a customer relationship. In fact, according to a report by Arise, over 80% of customers expect a response within 24 hours, and 96% expect a response within 48 hours. So, if your team is taking over three business days to respond to customer queries, you may be teetering on the edge of a poor customer experience.
Fortunately, there are strategies that you can put in place to help speed up your customer response times:
Lucky for you, there's a wide range of customer service platforms out there. So, more likely than not, you'll be able to find one that meets your needs.
Using customer service software will help you organize all of your customer interactions. For example, you can organize interactions by:
This comes in handy when you need to go back and look up a customer query. For example, if many customers requested a specific feature, you can tag them and reach back out when the new feature is live.
Another way to boost your customer response times is to use email auto-responses. Though auto-responses probably won’t answer a customer’s question directly, letting them know that someone will be looking at their message soon serves up a better experience for customers. You can be as specific as you want to be in your auto-responses. For example, if you’re currently experiencing a high volume of messages, be honest and say that in the auto-response.
If you're experiencing really busy periods, it's a good idea to learn about managing customer expectations. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
While speed is a priority for many customer support teams, it's important to be realistic and understand that there will be times when things fall through the cracks. Depending on what type of customer support tool you’re using, you may be able to implement internal reminders that send out an email notification to you and your team if a customer query has gone a certain number of days without being opened or answered. These reminders will serve as a safeguard to ensure that tickets and customer conversations don't fall through the cracks.
Save yourself—and the rest of your team—a ton of time by creating several response templates for common questions and storing them in your message platform for easy copy-and-pasting. For example, you could have templates for FAQs, password resets, return policy information, etc. These canned responses will help reduce your response time to tickets.
Another challenge your team might run into is being unable to answer a customer’s question. This can happen at any time, but it's especially common in companies that:-
When you don’t have the answer to a customer’s question, the worst thing you can do is give an incorrect answer. This is actually more common than you may think. According to Kolsky, 44% of consumers say they've gotten the wrong answer from a customer service representative in the past.
So, if you don’t have the answer but also want to respond to the customer in an appropriate time frame, what can you do?
Well, there are a few things you can do to cut the chances of your team drawing a blank on customer questions:
According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, nearly 60% of customers feel that long holds and wait times are the most frustrating parts of a service experience. This alone shows why it’s so important to limit call waiting and redirection when a customer calls your company’s help desk. It’s one of the fundamentals of great customer service, and the less time a customer waits, the less frustrated they will be when you speak with them.
Of course, hiring more customer service team members can immediately help with call wait times, but if that isn’t an option, here are some other helpful solutions to help you reduce call waiting and redirection:
The foundation of every customer interaction is good communication. Meaning, poor communication skills can cause serious problems when it comes to retaining or bringing in new customers.
A report by Microsoft found that 30% of people say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent. Even more, inconsistent communication can damage a brand’s credibility by 56%, as reported by Activeprospect. So, you’ll want to be sure each of your customer support team members has top-notch communication skills, but also are on the same page when it comes to how your brand wants to communicate with customers.
Here are a few ways you and your team can improve your verbal communication:
Incorporate friendly, all-purpose customer service phrases into your vocabulary, such as:
Learn the art of empathy, especially when you encounter an unhappy customer. Try using phrases like:
Sometimes, you may not have the answer for the customer you’re talking to. Redirecting them in a seamless, friendly manner will make for a better customer service experience. You can try out phrases like:
An issue you may run into more often than not is when a customer is angry, or only wants to speak to a supervisor. These situations can be especially tricky, because oftentimes customer service representatives are the best equipped to handle the situation—and have the tools to do so.
What’s worse is that you’ll need to convince the customer of this and turn the entire situation around in order to ensure you don’t lose them. A recent Forbes survey found that 96% of customers say that they will stop doing business with a company if they receive bad service.
In order to turn a bad situation into a pleasant one, you’ll have to employ some de-escalation techniques. Here are some practical ideas you and your team members can use to de-escalate and address situations like this:
Customer service can be exponentially harder for any company if they aren’t using the right tools. Even if you’re a small team, customer service tools can be vital for success. Over 65% of consumers have higher expectations when it comes to customer service today than they did just three to five years ago, according to Netomi’s State of Customer Service 2021. That means that every company needs to step up their customer experience game with the proper tools.
Customer service tools can help improve your products and/or services, measure the satisfaction of your customers, track data about your customers, and act as a reliable organizational tool that encourages collaboration among your whole team.
Some tools that may help address gaps in your customer experience include:
As much as any team doesn’t want to think about crises, crisis management is an essential part of any business—it means protection not only for the business itself, but each individual team member.
The best customer support teams should be prepared to handle the unexpected. Crises could include technology outages, a PR nightmare (think back to Gorilla Glue in 2021), confrontation or violence, or even a natural disaster that could impact anything from your team’s physical location, all the way up to supply chains problems.
Crisis management should be top-of-mind for all businesses. In fact, a survey by PwC finds that 30% of organizations admit that they didn’t have designated core crisis response teams in place when COVID-19 struck.
If you want to avoid getting caught in that 30%, here are some ways your team can achieve effective crisis management:
The saying “the customer is always right” is flawed. It can become tough when the customers’ expectations conflict with company policies. Internal policies are established for good reasons, so being able to explain that to your customer and deftly handle unrealistic expectations or requests is vital. Many times these unrealistic expectations from customers revolve around a discount or refund you're unable to provide.
Below are some solutions for handling unrealistic expectations or requests around discounts or refunds:
A large portion of customer support is actually after-sales support, or providing support to a customer after they’ve purchased your product. This could include things like walking them through how to use your product or service, answering questions related to their specific use scenario, and keeping an open dialogue to determine if they’re satisfied with the purchase. So, when after-sales support is ineffective, it can cause customers to be upset and potentially leave your company.
To ensure you and your customer service team members are providing best-in-class after-sales support, keep these things in mind:
You’ve probably realized now just how many challenges can arise within customer support. But what you can also take away from this article is how much opportunity there is for education and growth within your customer support team.
If you’re feeling inspired to take on some of these challenges and want to start by identifying new tools your team can implement, give TestBox a try. TestBox can help you sift through thousands of customer service tools and identify which ones could be perfect for your team—dive into TestBox today!
Start testing and comparing how software could help your team in seconds.
Oh and did we mention it’s free? Because it is.