20 Best Customer Service Practices to Provide Great Customer Support
Did you know that 70% of online shoppers are willing to spend more to get satisfactory customer service? Well, what’s more interesting, 89% of buyers look for new stores after having a bad experience with a business. Therefore, the role of customer service in growing a business and achieving its goals is fairly critical. Only outstanding customer service can help you generate more sales and increase customer retention to a great degree. In this write-up, I have discussed the most effective ways to provide standout experiences for your customers. Before that, let’s learn what really customer service is.
Definition of Customer Service
Customer service refers to the process of direct interaction with company representatives and existing or potential customers. In most cases, this is one-to-one communication. The role of a customer service professional is to reply to customer’s queries personally or via phone, email, message, social media, etc. Customer service plays a pivotal role in ensuring customer satisfaction and inducing buyers to shop again. With the advancement of technology, automated customer service systems are taking over, but nothing can beat the sincere and lively sound of a human voice.
Every year 137 billion USD is lost due to consumer switching resulting from customer service failure. That proves how crucial customer service is to achieve your business growth goals. I can assure you of great success if you incorporate the following steps into your customer service activities.
1. Be Easily accessible
Ensure your presence in every customer service channel namely email, phone, live chat, and more. Use several options to reach your customers and become available to them. Introduce as many support channels as you can so your customers never feel that they can’t access your customer service easily. But, before integrating a new channel, make sure that you can manage it well without making blunders.
2. Respond As Quick As Possible
Customers expect 24/7 service from retailers. That might not be possible for many constraints. But you must try to respond as early as possible. It’s better to inform buyers about the average timeframe required for your response so they can patiently wait. I suggest you respond to customers within 24 hours. If you can’t do so, it’s time to reshape your customer service system and make use of a more efficient strategy.
3. Keep Options for Urgent Phone Calls
Other popular forms of communication take time to provide the required support to customers. That’s why you must keep a time-sensitive alternative to email, live chat, and social media support. You can introduce a few hotline numbers to help customers who need immediate assistance. Besides, a large number of customers still feel more comfortable to conversate over telephone calls.
4. Support Your Customers through Email
Email communication serves with more convenience from a business owner’s viewpoint. It doesn’t call for instant response and allows you to think and come up with reasonable solutions. Besides, email automatically keeps documentation of your conversations with customers, and that may work as a future reference in some cases. You can utilize email support tools like Gmail to ensure great customer service.
5. Integrate Live Chat Facility
Live chat support refers to the text-based communication between support teams and consumers. You can also use an AI-enabled chatbot to facilitate this process. When a customer wants to know something, live chat allows them to get responses in real-time. Usually, people expect live chat support to be available 24/7. If you can’t afford that, let them know about your availability.
As a live chat agent, you may have to handle two/three chat windows simultaneously. This requires great multitasking skills. Don’t mix up. Pay painstaking attention to each chatbox to make sure that you’re not sending a particular message to the wrong window. And don’t engage yourself in too many chats at a time, as it will keep your clients waiting.
6. Make an Impressive Display on Social Media
Social media are the best platforms to showcase your excellent customer service activities to a broader audience. All the comments and replies are usually public on different social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Whatever you do is visible to a large number of users. So, you can make a great impression by providing sincere and effective support to customers in public.
7. Provide Your Customers with Help Content
The best customer service is when people don’t need your service. If you offer answers to probable questions beforehand they’re even asked, customers won’t need to contact you for further information. That’s why help content like FAQs, Blogs, Terms & Policies, and About sections are important. People mostly ask questions about billing, order process, shipping, customer accounts, discount and offers, returns, and exchanges. Try to cover these topics proactively in your help content.
8. Listen to Your Customers with Patience
Listening to your customers patiently and paying attention to detail are two major components of effective customer service. At first, allow your customers to explain their problems or queries fully with no interruption. Give your undivided attention to what the customers are saying and come up with the best solution. Never rush to do this. If you miss any detail, ask again, but don’t give wrong information under any circumstances.
9. Be Respectful when Talking to Them
No matter whom you’re talking to, you have no choice but to show respect. Be respectful even if your customers are illiterate, irrational, irritating, or rude. They may unload all their depression, stress, and dissatisfaction with life before you. Or they might be this mean by nature. You never know the actual reasons. So, it’s wise to treat every customer with the highest respect.
10. Never Lose Your Cool & Don’t Argue
It’s very natural for a human being to get angry at times. But, as you’re the representative of your company, you can't afford to lose your temper and behave poorly with a customer. It will affect the reputation of your company. Most importantly, don’t pinpoint the customer’s mistakes and never argue with them. If the situation gets worse to a whole new level, you can hand over the responsibilities to your colleagues or put the customers in a brief hold and pull yourself together.
11. Honor Your Commitments
Don't ever make a promise that you can't keep. Think twice before giving a deadline. If an issue is likely to take more time to be resolved, ask for more time than the estimated timeline. If you can deliver earlier than the deadline, that's great. But never miss a deadline. And comply with the guarantee and warranty commitments given by your company.
12. Collaborate with Relevant Teams
You may not have proper answers to everything they ask. If necessary, seek help from the respective departments. Collaborate with relevant departments so you can pass only authentic information.
13. Extend Your Helping Hand when Possible
This is mostly applicable to brick and mortar stores. Try to help your customers with sincerity no matter if they have buying intent or not. For example, if someone asks you about a product, be kind enough to guide him/her to the right place. Extend your helping hand wherever possible, over the phone or in person. Your behavior is directly related to your company’s reputation. So treat people in the best way possible.
14. Be Ready to Handle Surprises
Situations may arise when a customer asks for something that is not possible to do from your end. For example, if a customer wants to return a product because it fell from his/her hand and broke. Or a customer may react in a totally unexpected way. Be ready to handle these unprecedented situations. It's better to create guidelines comprising solutions to every possible situation.
15. Admit Your Faults Readily
Avoid hesitating to admit your mistakes. The earlier you can admit your faults, the happier the customer will be. Don't try to hide any blunders made by the company's end. Apologize right away after committing a mistake and try your best to make everything right.
16. Offer Something Extra as Compensation
People always love to get more than they're supposed to get. You can offer a discount coupon, membership card, or any future commitment to making your customers happy. Try to compensate for your mistakes by offering something extra like a complimentary gift or a discount on shipping. Beautiful packaging can also be a critical factor to achieve customer satisfaction.
17. Focus on Long-term Goals
Build strong relationships with customers so they come back again and again. Don't hard sell low-quality products to make short-term sales. Focus on long-term goals so you can retain customers. According to stats, a 5% increase in customer retention results in a 25% increase in profits. So, focus on building relationships rather than making sales. Try to ensure optimal customer satisfaction as an angry customer can demotivate thousands of people just by sharing his/her unpleasant experience on the internet.
18. Solve Problems with Excellent Closing Ability
Closing ability refers to the capacity of closing a case successfully ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction. Make your customer feel that all his burden is sincerely taken care of. If a consumer needs your service repeatedly, that implies terrible customer service. Show your excellent closing ability so that no issue needs to be addressed more than once.
19. Read Your Customers & Show Some Empathy
Try to fit yourself in your customer’s shoes when they complain about an issue. Be as empathetic as you can while talking to them. Try to understand their mind by observing their mood, patience level, tone, and personality. This will help you read their emotional states and act according to that. And try to understand their exact needs. Take note of your conversation so if the same customer calls again to resolve the same issue, you can connect well.
20. Flaunt Your Creative Side
You don't have to impress your customers with something of monetary value. A sweet gesture with a touch of bonafide creativity can run the extra mile to make an excellent impression. You can send handwritten short letters to your customer showing gratitude. Custom-made packaging inserts, samples of complementing items, offering surprise discounts, etc. are creative ways to build a personal relationship with your customer. Try to create wow moments as frequently as possible.
How to Improve Your Customer Service Skills
I have covered almost everything required for outstanding customer service in the above section. Here are 9 useful tips for improving your customer service skills.
- Acquire Some Basic Acting Skills: This is more important for physical stores. When you’re in front of a customer, you have to keep a smiling face no matter how poorly the customer behaves. Without developing basic acting skills, it's quite tough to hide utter disgust and keep smiling.
- Develop Your Persuasion Skills: All the customers won't come to you with an issue. There are a few prospective customers who seek information regarding your product and services. If your support team can master effective persuasion skills, these potential customers will turn into existing customers.
- Gain In-depth Knowledge About Your Products: This is the basis of customer service. Without knowing your product’s ins and outs, a support team member can never share authentic information. So, the first duty of a customer service representative is to gain in-depth knowledge about the industry and its products.
- Learn to Show Positive Attitude: Customers don't want to hear what you can’t do for them, rather they want to see you doing something to satisfy their demand. Show your commitment and use positive language as much as possible. For example, “This product is not available now, so I can't confirm your order”- expresses a negative notion. Show your positive attitude and say, “This product will be available next week. I can confirm your order as soon as it comes to our hands.”
- Adjust Your Tone in Keeping with the Context: Adjust your tone according to the situation. You shouldn't sound cheerful when you apologize for a mistake. And you shouldn't sound apathetic when offering a discount or introducing a new product. Adopt a suitable tone after judging the context.
- Learn How to Write Precisely: Sometimes, you may need to instruct customers to do something in text format. Make sure they understand what you're telling them. Write error-free, easily intelligible, precise instructions. Try to provide clear and step-by-step instructions.
- Improve Your Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills refer to a set of skills comprising listening, speaking, communication, and emotion management. They are the core skills that enable a person to communicate effectively. Try to improve yourself in terms of these significant skills.
- Arrange Training Sessions for Your Staff: As customer service is the application of a set of skills, you need to provide the necessary training for your staff to create them as competent customer service representatives. You can train them on how to greet, talk, and solve problems. Teaching them how to use technology is also an integral part of modern customer service training.
- Try to Learn and Grow Every Day: There's no limit to knowledge. All your staff must have a strong willingness to learn. They can learn from mistakes, daily experiences, or even books. No matter what resources they use, it's important to keep learning and growing.
The growth of a business depends on its relationships with customers. Without satisfied customers, it's impossible to succeed in the long run. Outstanding customer service can persuade prospective customers to buy from you and influence existing customers to shop again from you. On the contrary, bad customer service will let your customer switch to your competitors and at the same time demotivate others to come to you. No worries! If you follow this comprehensive guide, you definitely can provide standout support to your customers.
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