We all know the costs of bad customer service – the lost customers, the hits to your brand name and reputation. One of the best ways to improve customer service is to anticipate issues your team might be having and solve them before they even become a problem.
What does good customer service look like? It’s easier to get a handle on the obstacles if we know what excellent service looks like.
According to Harvard Business Review, good customer service provides an effortless experience for the customer. Customers who had a low-effort experience were more likely to repurchase. Only 1% planned to say bad things about the company. In contrast, 81% of high-effort customers said they intended to spread negative word-of-mouth.
The first order of business is to help your team reduce customer effort whenever possible. Ask your staff about the issues they’ve been having and solicit their suggestions for improvement. They’ll probably have some interesting and helpful things to say.
Here are some of the problems your team may be running into.
Problems caused by your website
Nobody likes to think their website might be creating customer service problems, but it happens. Tightening up your website will help stop problems before they start.
Difficult-to-find contact information
Your telephone number and email address should be available on every page, along with unobtrusive live chat and social media icons. If customers want to chat with a representative or follow you on Facebook, make it easy for them. Don’t force them to Google your contact information when they want to get in touch with you.
Make sure your product and promo information is current. Your website sets the customer expectations that your team will have to live up to. Make sure that these are reasonable. Go over the information on your website regularly so that nothing there is contradictory, inaccurate, or misleading.
Complicated user interface
If your customer can’t figure out how to complete the checkout process they’ll contact customer service – if you’re lucky. Many will just abandon their shopping cart and move on to a competitor.
A good way to identify customer pain points is to go through the entire process yourself.
Note down areas of difficulty and try to make it as smooth and easy as you can. Don’t stop with the shopping cart. How easy is it to search for articles of interest on your blog and online knowledge base?
Every problem customers solve for themselves is one less problem burdening your team. According to a Zendesk survey, 91% of customers would be happy to use a knowledge base if it met their needs.
Customers presenting complex problems
Often customer issues can be difficult to solve. After all, if it were easy the customer would have found the answer in your FAQ. There will be times your staff won’t have a ready reply to customer issues.
Customers asking questions your reps can't answer
Teach your team to use positive language when dealing with customers. For instance, telling a customer, “I don't know” may come across as unhelpful. It doesn't advance the conversation towards a solution.
Instead, say something like, “That's a great question! Is it alright if I take a minute to look it up? I want to make sure I give you the right answer.” It conveys to the customer that you care and you're focused on helping them.
Needing to transfer a customer
Customers hate being transferred from agent to agent like a hot potato. When your agent has to refer the customer to someone else, teach them to frame it in a positive way. Instead of just saying, “I'm sorry, I'll have to transfer you. Please hold,” they can say something like, “Let me transfer you to our resident expert
Your CRM software should be able to update in real time so that the customer does not have to explain themselves again.
Having to refuse a customer request
Sometimes customers ask for items or features that aren’t available, but your agents can still respond in a helpful manner. Instead of “That item isn't available,” they can say, “That item comes in next week. Would you like me to pre-order it for you?”
There are times you just can't give the customer what they want. You can still provide good service though.
One example is a customer who asks to check into a hotel with their pet. Instead of saying, “No pets allowed,” the agent may say, “I'm sorry, but for the comfort and safety of all our guests we cannot accept pets. Would you like me to call around for other places in the area where your dog can check in?”
Going above and beyond to help a customer can keep them happy even if you can't accede to their request.
Dealing with angry customers
Dealing with irate customers is the most emotionally draining part of customer service. You can train your team to deal with angry customers without taking it personally. As much as possible, it's best to prevent reasons for customer anger in the first place.
For instance, try to anticipate times of heavy volume. If you've just released a new software update there will probably be a rush of calls as confused customers ask for help. Update your FAQ with complete information on the new software and do what you can to help your team handle the calls.
You can install CRM features that take care of repetitive tasks. Depending on the volume, you can even hire new people or outsource the easier parts of the job. It's also a great idea to ask your superstar agents to share their tips and tricks for handling difficult customers.
Your customer service team faces a variety of customer problems every day. With the right training, you can help them solve these issues with ease and grace, and a minimum of stress for everyone involved.
Has your customer service team faced any of these challenges before? If so, how did you overcome them? Tell us about your experience in the comment box below!