18 minute read
81 percent of customers say that a good customer experience increases their willingness to make another purchase. That is incentive enough for us to ramp up our customer experience and satisfaction.
To help you get there faster, we curated some tips on customer service which will (definitely) help you achieve excellence. Let us dive in.
1. Proactive customer service is the road to take
Don’t wait for your customers to reach out to you with their problems. Address customer issues even before they arise. Your customer service should be proactive, and not reactive.
When you solve customer-related problems even before they reach out, you show that they are your priority. After all, your customers are your greatest source of earning revenues.
An interesting example here would be how Slack approached some of its technical drawbacks before any user pointed them out. Take a look:
Source: Slack Twitter handle
2. Your feedback forms should be easy to use for both your customer service team and customers
Let's face it. Your customers aren’t really fond of filling out surveys or feedback forms. Your customers might be willing to rate your products but they won’t be willing to spend extra time for that.
The simpler you make your surveys, the higher the chances for you to get more feedback forms filled. Following are some tips to keep your feedback surveys user-friendly.
- It is better if your customers don’t have to log in to provide feedback.
- Try asking for feedback through emails. Send them the link to the survey, or create an AMP email where they can provide you feedback by interacting within the email itself.
- You can offer incentives to customers who complete your surveys. For instance, Starbucks offers ten stars to customers who complete the entire survey. These stars can be redeemed against purchases.
- Keep your questions direct and simple. Ask the right questions in your surveys.
Given below are some samples of simple survey questions you can ask.
Note: This list is not exhaustive but just a glimpse into basic feedback questions.
3. Use email templates for better engagement
You are more likely to save hours every week when you use email templates for customer engagement and communication.
The average workday for customer service reps includes 28% of the time for reading and replying to emails. That amounts to 2.6 hours per day. Email templates speed up the sending process, saving you significant time.
Moreover, standard email templates help you to maintain branding and consistency. Your revenue can increase by 23% when you maintain brand consistency.
Look at a few examples of standard customer service email templates that will save your time and energy.
➡️ Dealing with customer complaints and grievances
Dear (customer first name),
Hope you are doing great.
I am very sorry that you had an unpleasant experience with us. We uphold our customers' opinions above everything else. (Address the summary of the complaint, for example, I understand how frustrating and inconvenient it is when refunds get delayed).
I have passed this on to my team and rest assured, suitable action from our side will be taken within the next 24 hours. Your refund will reflect in your account within the next 3 days.
We will make sure that you never have to face such an inconvenience again in the future.
Here is a discount voucher and 10 credit points for you as a token of apology from our side. Thank you for being patient and I appreciate you again for taking the time to provide us with the necessary feedback along with your complaint. I apologize once again for the inconvenience.
Customer Service at XYZ Inc.
➡️ Follow-up email template
Dear (customer first name),
Hope you are doing great.
I wanted to check in with you regarding the issue you had the other day. Was it resolved? Do you need any additional help?
I’d be happy to assist you in any case. Have a great day.
Customer Service at XYZ Inc.
4. Don’t push your customer service reps to deliver service at breakneck speeds
73% of the customers believe that the most important thing businesses can do to provide good customer service is to value their time.
Timely replies are helpful for better customer engagement. But you shouldn’t be pushing your customer service team to only focus on how fast they are replying, or how many calls they are attending in a minute.
The focus should be whether they are addressing the customer’s issue to the best of their abilities or not.
When you are focusing more on closing the conversation faster rather than on resolving the issue fully, you might end up disappointing your customers. And that doesn't help anyone.
5. Maintain a separate social media account for customer support
Often, customer feedback and complaints might get lost in the large pool of marketing and other posts. To ensure maximum customer satisfaction, it is important that you don't miss their complaints and queries.
One of the best ways to do this is to maintain a separate social media account for customer support. Many successful and famous brands have adopted this approach to ensure better customer experience and satisfaction.
Shopify, for instance, has a separate Twitter handle to deal with customer grievances. They address customer queries on this handle.
They also post interesting updates and polls to keep customers engaged. This is what we found on their Twitter handle. 👇
Source: Shopify Support
Read the 7th point here to know more about Shopify's customer service experience, and for similar inspiring stories.
The departmental store giant, Target also has a similar customer support Twitter handle called “Ask Target.” Customers can post any and every query that they have and their customer service specialists carefully address all the queries.
Evernote, which is a note-taking app, also has a customer support Twitter handle called “Evernote Helps.” they use this Twitter handle to address customer queries and complaints.
Source: Evernote Helps
6. Reduce your response time with reasonably quick replies
62% of the companies do not reply to emails sent to their customer service team.
Delays can make customers dissatisfied with your services. And when your customers are dissatisfied, you lose out on potential sales and revenue.
Hence, an important customer service tip is to keep your First Response Time low. Get a customer engagement tool that provides you conversation metrics like First Response Time, Resolution Time, Resolution count, etc.
However, you'll need to respond within your business hours. It is also crucial to let your customers know when you are not working / are outside your working hours. This maintains genuine expectations. This is how you can enable and automate your business hours from Chatwoot.
Once, all this is setup, you can highlight your response times on your live chat widget. Examples:
- “Response time on our live chat is as less as 1 minute.”
- “We respond to your emails within 30 minutes of receiving it.”
7. Do it the Ritz Carlton way
Giving power to your customer service reps is an important step to ensure excellent customer service delivery.
When you are constantly policing your customer support team, they might feel restricted and disconnected from their job. It is important to hand over the baton to them. This also makes them feel valued and appreciated.
And when your employees feel trusted, you can be assured that they will deliver their best to your customers.
A relatable example here is how Ritz Carlton gives the freedom to deliver excellent customer service. The customer service representatives at Ritz Carlton are given up to $2000 to assist their customers in anything that they need. The employees can use this money as and when they feel necessary for serving a customer.
8. Don’t forget to appreciate your customers
Don’t be frugal with your “Thank Yous” when it comes to appreciating your customers.
We have recently published an article on 20 reasons why customer service is important to drive your business results. This helps us understand the power customers hold over your business.
They are your biggest source of revenue, word-of-mouth advertising, and building brand value. So appreciating them can be very impactful for your business.
We have curated a list on some of the ways you can thank your customers.
- If possible, send your customers a handwritten note. Here is an example of some beautiful handwritten notes.
2. Donate to causes that your customers will resonate with. This will make them feel more positive about your business.
Zomato, for instance, has an option of adding an extra Rs. 2 to donate to initiatives like “Feeding India” every time you order food.
3. A good way to show that you value your customers is to offer free services in times of need.
Trader Joe’s doesn’t have an option of delivery services. But they went above and beyond to deliver groceries to an old man stuck in his house during a snowstorm.
9. Adopt the reputation management tools that suit you
We are living in the digital era where a single comment online can make or break your reputation.
Under such circumstances, it is important to keep a track of your customer reviews and comments.
This is how a dashboard of a standard reputation management looks like:
There are various reputation management tools that you can use for this purpose. Listed below are some of the tools that you can use to track online mentions for your business.
10. Positive language and empathy go a long way
Customers love it when you treat them with empathy and kindness.
Often, it might not be possible for your customer support team to solve the issue in one go. But using positive language in conversations will help retain customers even if their issue is not solved immediately. Customer support teams who practice empathy are 2 times more likely to be more efficient and better performers.
Treat your customers the way you would like to be treated.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think how you would like to be treated. This is a golden tip in customer service. Even if the customer is wrong or unreasonable about something, it doesn't cost to stay polite. :)
Instead of saying, “The product you are asking for is not available with us now,” your customer representatives can say that, “Apologies for the product being out of stock. We are trying our best to make it available for you within the next 3 days.”
This will make your customers feel heard and valued.
11. Hold regular upskilling and personality development sessions for your customer service team
Customer service is more dynamic now than ever. It is a continuously evolving field where one needs to upgrade their skillset.
Before hiring, the majority of managers actively seek customer service skills. But both the rep and the business are responsible for continuous learning and development for improving customer service.
Because your business will enjoy 11% more profits if you focus on keeping your customer service team upgraded.
Organising company-wide upskilling sessions on time management, communications, empathy, and active listening is necessary for your customer service team.
12. Personalisation is more than just remembering names
Let's look at some inspiring numbers. 90% of the customers find personalisation to be appealing! 80% of customers are more likely to buy a product or use a service from a company that provides personalised experiences. 72% of customers engage with marketing messages that are relatable to them.
The best way to show your prospective customers that they are a priority is with a personalised touch.
Now how to create this personalised touch? Take a look:
13. Build a user community online for better customer service
Building an online community of your customers can be a great way to reduce pressure on your customer service team. That's because, most often, customers use these groups to clear their queries.
For instance, HubSpot has different Facebook groups for different kinds of users. Their online community also has experts who answer the queries posted by other users.
Users can come and ask various questions and also help other users too.
Canva too has built an online user community on Facebook called Canva Design Circle. Users can get new ideas and also get traction for their own designs.
P.S. We have our own Discord community too.
14. Maintain an integrated customer support network across platforms
This is probably the most important tip on customer service. Try and adopt an omnichannel support for your business.
More than two-thirds of all purchases are made using a digital device of some kind. Customers use their cell phones to browse and explore before making purchases in-store or online.
This makes it important to have customer support across all platforms including online websites and physical stores.
Let us take a look at the data to make this more convincing. According to the Harvard Business Review, 73% of consumers prefer to shop across multiple platforms. Moreover, customers who use multiple channels spend 10% more on their online purchases and 4% more on their in-store purchases.
15. Focus on First Contact Resolution
The percentage of calls and messages that are addressed immediately during the first interaction is known as First Contact Resolution (FCR).
Why should you focus on FCR? Because it is an important metric for evaluating customer satisfaction. And higher the FCR rates, the higher the customer satisfaction.
FCR rates of around 90% are considered as high, while 40% is seen as the "low" end.
How to improve your FCR?
- Create a knowledge base of products and the common customer service issues that occur.
- Keep your customer’s purchase history and previous queries handy.
- Ensure that your customers have to put in minimal efforts while resolving their issues.
- Instead of just resolving the issue, engage with your customer in explaining how your resolved it.
16. Address customer issues on the basis of urgency
Rank your customer issues on the basis of their urgency such as low, medium, and high. This will help you to understand which issues require your attention the most.
But how will you identify which issue is of high priority for you?
- Check for repeat customers first. If a customer is complaining again and again about the same issue, you need to pay attention to this urgently. This might also indicate that the customer will stop using your service soon if the issues continue.
- Customers who say that they will leave a negative review if their issue is not addressed first should be of high priority.
- Customers who are asking for refund need to be addressed urgently. Missing items, customer dissatisfaction, late delivery, and product damage commonly leads to anger followed by refund requests. It is in your company’s best interests to resolve such issues as soon as they arise.
One of the ways to prioritise customer complaints is by using AI tools such as SentiSum. This AI tool helps you prioritise customer issues on the basis of customer sentiments. That's sweet!
17. Build a reliable customer service team
Hire who you trust. And trust who you hire.
Your quality of customer service depends on the quality of the people you hire.
The quality of the customer service provided will determine purchasing decisions of 90% of your customers. So it is important to hire the right kind of people for building that dream team of yours.
We know that this cannot be done overnight. So here are some important questions that you can include right now in your interview process to understand your potential employees better.
- Are you familiar with the company’s customer service delivery culture?
- How would you deal with a customer who is angry and shouting at you on call?
- What are the most important customer service skills for you?
- Which is more important for you, the number of queries you could take in a day or the number of queries you could successfully resolve within a day?
The response of your potential employees to these questions will help you determine whether they are the right fit for your company or not.
18. Don’t lose sight of your loyal customers while focusing on new ones
Re-engaging your old customers is one of the most fruitful ways to generate more revenue. This is because they already know about your brand. They have experienced your services.
Imagine that you had a knack for maintaining a rapport with your clients. How simple would it be for you to stay updated on their activities inside your app before letting them know about a new product or feature?
Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition. And most importantly, the operating costs to serve old customers are always less than that required to serve new ones.
This is exactly why engaging with your old customers can open a gold mine for you!
19. It’s okay to say “No”
You are not an Encyclopedia who knows it all. So it is completely okay to say no to your customers when you don’t know something.
What is important is that you offer them alternatives to resolve their issue. Some alternate sentences that you can use are:
- “I would appreciate it if you can give me 2 minutes to cross-check on the website and then get back to you.”
- “I understand that this is urgent. But I would like to borrow 5 minutes of your time so that I can understand the issue better before offering you a solution.”
- “My coworker, Sarah is experienced in that domain. Could you wait a moment while I ask him, please?”
Note: This is not an exhaustive list but just some examples that you can adopt in your day-to-day customer conversations.
Here is an email response from Zappos customer service team when they were unable to help a customer’s request.
20. Keeping your customers interested through consistent engagement is important
Why is customer engagement important? Because the more engaged they are with your business, the more revenues and goodwill you create for yourself.
Customers who are fully engaged generate 23% more profit than inactive or disengaged customers. Your customers get disinterested easily if you leave them waiting for long or ignore their tags and comments on social media.
Engaging with them constantly is the key to ensuring that you deliver to the best of your abilities. This will create a loyal base of customers and boost your brand value.
An interesting example here would be how Netflix keeps its customers engaged on both social media and live chat.
21. Use automation selectively
Automation and AI-driven customer service is widespread. But it is important to use automation selectively.
Automation would not always give the human touch that your customer service team can give. Taking over the live chat is sometimes better. This helps in providing personalised and humanised customer services.
Consider automating grunt work including answering FAQs, assisting in orders and collaborating with team instead of customer interactions.
Most advanced shared inbox and support technologies enable customer service representatives to work on the same ticket. These tools also allow automatic updating of cases depending on which ones are open and which are closed.
Get all your customer service reps to collaborate with each other while they answer customer queries!
Related read: Will customer service be replaced by robots?
22. Make your help centres user-friendly and easy to navigate
81% of your customers will try to solve their issues on their own before approaching your customer service team. So it is important that you make your help centres easy to navigate and user-friendly.
But also keep in mind that your agents should be available for assistance in case of any difficulty. Have a look at the Nykaa help centre which has a very clean and catchy user interface.
You might wonder what makes Nykaa’s help centre so attractive? That's because:
- There is a clear CTA on every option.
- Only the most essential and frequently used customer service options are listed for better navigation.
23. Your customer service reps need to be solution focused
In customer service, there’s no such thing as “not my problem”.
When a customer comes to you with a query, your approach should be solution-oriented and not defensive or argumentative. When you try to dismiss your customer’s queries, no matter how trivial they are, you highly risk increasing the customer churn rate.
76% of your customers will leave your business if they have more than one bad experience. And we don’t quite like sending our customers to our competitors.
Pay attention, listen, and find solutions together with your customer. Think of it like this: your customer is your friend who needs your help!
24. Active listening is the key to customer success
Developing the habit of active listening is important for providing excellent customer service. Most of the problems in a business are because of poor communication skills.
Enter: follow-up questions. When you ask follow-up questions, customers get assured that you are paying attention.
Asking follow-up questions will always keep the conversation going––in a helpful way, of course.
P.S. An important tip to keep in mind about active listening is to never interrupt your customers when they are speaking.
25. Know your products and services in and out
“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”
– Kevin Stirtz
When delivering customer service, it is important to have adequate knowledge of the products and services provided by the business. This will help you better serve your customers.
Our experiences have shown us that a positive attitude, excellent communication, and product knowledge all go hand in hand. By mastering all of these, you can give your customer service representatives the resources they need to guarantee client happiness.
Because this will improve the company's reputation and boost sales. It will also lower customer complaints, and bring stability.
One way in which your customer service reps can improve their product knowledge is through training by senior product specialists. This can be done during the onboarding of new employees and also when new products are launched.
26. Clear communication is the key to a healthy relationship
How many times have you fought with your friend because of some misunderstanding and communication gap? Clear communication is the only way to bridge that gap. Alright, we'll not get into that. But here's the point: To handle shocks, your clients' attitudes, and new obstacles appropriately, you must be an excellent communicator.
Since every customer is different, every support situation will be unique. Knowing how to communicate in different situations will help you find effective solutions.
This has become important more than ever because our businesses are now spread all over the world. So we need to know how to bridge the language barriers and also be inclusive of everyone’s sentiments.
Below are a few tips to be a better communicator.
- Be clear and concise in your responses.
- Always end calls with “what more can I do for you today?”
- Talk to them like humans and not auto-generated replies.
27. Follow up after addressing a customer’s complaints or queries
Try to follow up with your customers after resolving their issues. This will help you ensure that your customers are happy and satisfied.
This can leave a lasting impression but is a step that only a few organisations take. Reaching out to a customer after resolving a complaint helps you achieve two important things:
- It will help you get a sense of whether their issue has been completely resolved.
- Secondly, it will also remind them of the excellent customer service that they had received from your business. This might help you earn a few positive comments and feedback!
Source: SuperOffice CRM
28. The CARP method
Control, Acknowledge, Re-focus, and Problem solve.
Here’s how to use CARP:
- Control the situation through patient verbal conversations.
- Acknowledge the issue or the mistake on part of your company and be empathetic towards the customer’s issue.
- Re-focus the discussion on how to arrive at the solution.
- Problem-solving with the customer by discussing alternate options and finding a middle ground best suited for the business and the customer.
29. Close conversations but don't end them abruptly
The way you respond, shows how much you value your customers. But most importantly, it matters how you close the conversation as it creates a lasting impression on your customers.
It matters whether your customers are pleased or not with the conversation while cutting the call or reading your replies on chats and emails.
Some important but basic statements that you can keep in mind while closing a conversation are as follows:
- “Please let me know if you have any further questions or need my assistance”
- “We hope you will find our recommendations/ suggestions useful”
- “Thank you for being patient and cooperating with us. We look forward to serving you again”
30. Provide incentives to your customer service team
Incentivising the performance of your customer service team can boost their productivity. This, in turn, helps them serve your customers better.
This is a crucial support tip to keep both your customers and employees happy. 69% of your employees will be more dedicated when they feel valued and appreciated.
You can appreciate your employees by creating a “Star Employee” or “Star of the Month” section on your website or newsletter. You can get as creative as you want!
We drew inspiration from Ernst and Young. Maybe you can too.
Bonus for being a patient reader
"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity."
– Don Alden Adams, President Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
We hope your business reaches new heights in 2023 with these customer service tips. We're also posting tips on b2b, and customer service regularly on our Twitter feed. See ya there! ✌️
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