Customer service is hard. It is difficult to adequately train people to dealwith the litany of problems that can spring up on a daily basis at a large company. Those brave enough to make a successful career out of customer service are some of the most admirable, empathetic, customer focused people in all of tech. We may not be able to make all of their customers happy (we’re developing software that is going to try to help make that easier), but we did come up with six easy tips for customer service managers and agents to use to simplify life on a daily basis.
- Over communicate. The best customer service calls I’m on are the ones where the agent tells me too much. I’d rather be told four times that there’s a brief pause because they’re communicating with another team than sit in silence wondering if I’ve been transferred or hung up on. When something breaks and I call to have it fixed, I want to hear that it’s being fixed and be kept in the loop.
- Stay relevant or be authentic. It’s clear that big companies have listened to their customers who want more “human” customer service interactions. That said, when I’m frustrated about my customer experience with a company and the agent says, “So, is it really hot in Texas?” I feel like I’m getting Punk’d.In those situations, it’s safer to stick to what’s being done (even if it’s redundant), or, do what the best customer service rep I’ve ever dealt with at a cable company did: told me that he loves Man vs. Food, saw an episode about Austin, and that the barbecue and the donuts look amazing so now he wants to visit. I’m a foodie, so this hit a sweet spot with me, but true human authenticity like that is what people want. He’d already told me why our process was delayed, and we spent a few minutes talking about the Austin food scene. He was a world away (the Philippines, it turns out) but still dug up something to authentically connect with me over rather than asking if the Weather Channel was just kidding when they show the temperatures in Texas.
- Don’t sound like you’re reading from a script. For all I know, Scooby Doo is on the other end of the line, sword fighting a basilisk, wearing army fatigues and a sombrero. Frankly, I could care less as long as Scooby Doo isn’t reciting a script in a bored monotone. If I’m experiencing an issue, call a company for help, and hear someone clearly reading a script, I immediately lose all confidence that the person I’m talking to cares enough or has the authority to fix my problem.By personalizing the message (even if the base is scripted -in fact, it should be), the customer will become more confident that they are in fact speaking to a professional. Something customer service professionals have to overcome is (regrettably) the assumption by the customer of incompetence on the part of the agent. By sounding confident and not scripted, the agent immediately disarms these assumptions and creates a much more open line of communication between themselves and the customer.
- Apologize, and say thank you. A lot. If I’ve called to fix an issue or because I’m confused, I want to feel validated in my experience (whether or not that’s reasonable). By apologizing that I’m having trouble and thanking me for the information I’m providing you’re making me feel like I’m in the right. It might not make me any less frustrated, but it will make me infinitely easier to deal with on an interpersonal level because I will feel like the person I’m talking to agrees with me. Feeling agreed with is powerful.
- Go out of your way, for five minutes. Want to totally floor everyone who comes into contact with your customer service team? Let them off the phone, and then solve their problem. If a person has verified their account and gives an email to be reached at, empower your customer service agent to let that person go. Then, astonish them by following up with a case number and the resolution they were hoping for. This will result in rave reviews once the person regains their capacity to speak.
- Do it again. You’ve followed up once, this is an excellent start because follow ups rarely happen in todays customer service. The next step is the “shock and awe” step. Make a note in your calendar about when their problem is supposed to be resolved. Email them that day. Let them know you remember dealing with their problem and that it should have been resolved today. See if they’re happy with the resolution and if you can do anything else. Little things like this that, between writing the email and placing the calendar reminder, take less than five minutes and can elevate the customer service from pedestrian to all-star.
More tips? Suggestions? General feedback? Let us know in the comments below or at @helpdotcom!