Why the Quality of Your Customer Support Matters
Customer support now plays a critical role in the lives of consumers, as people across the globe seek information, guidance, and support to navigate their way through the challenges imposed by the world situation and the circumstances of their daily lives.
Besides the information and assistance they receive, the quality of the support experience itself really matters to today’s consumers. According to research by Super Office, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. A study by smallbizgenius notes that 56% of customers stay loyal to brands that “get them.” So delivering satisfaction and engaging your consumers in a manner that speaks to them at a personal level are critically important.
However, statistics suggest that not too many organizations are getting this balance right. A survey conducted by Qualtrics XM Institute, ROI of Customer Experience, suggests that only 34% of customers rate a company as delivering a “good” customer experience. Similarly, only 37% say they are more likely to recommend a business because of a good experience. In fact, HelpScout observes that poor customer service loses American businesses over $62 billion annually.
If customers don’t get satisfaction from the support they receive from your organization, they will tend to look for a better alternative — which means a loss of consumers and revenue. Moreover, in the age of social media, poor customer service can lead to poor and public reviews online that result in further loss of revenue and damage to your reputation.
How can you guard against this? In this article, we’ve assembled ten tips for making your customer support calls and customer service delivery more friendly, rapid, and effective.
Image source: The Balance Small Business
1. Reduce the Time that Customers Have to Wait Before Reaching a Support Agent
According to HubSpot, 73% of customers say that time is a critical factor in determining “good” and poor customer service experiences. McKinsey notes that three-quarters of online customers expect help within five minutes. When asked how long they were willing to be put on hold, about a third of respondents to a recent study said they are not willing to wait at all. Nearly 30% said they would wait one minute. Only 4.1% said they would wait as long as it took.
The days when callers were willing to wait indefinitely on Hold, listening to bland tunes or company promotions, are long gone. The onus is therefore on you to minimize the amount of time that callers must wait before speaking to a support agent. Various methods of Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) can assist with this. For example, a simultaneous distribution pattern can send an incoming call to all agents within a particular ring group, increasing the customer’s chances of contacting a live agent.
2. Tell Customers How Long They Can Expect to Wait
As illustrated in the previous point, people are willing to wait a short while to access the support they need, but they prefer not being put on hold. HubSpot Research goes further to observe that 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as “important” or “very important” when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as ten minutes or less.
If you must make customers wait for a response, it’s important to communicate to them exactly how long they can expect to be left unattended on the line. You might for example state that the next customer support agent will be available in a certain number of minutes. Alternatively, you might tell callers how many customers are ahead of them in the wait queue.
3. Greet Customers by Name
Friendly customer support that provides prompt and comprehensive solutions to issues is the goal that you should aim for. A key way to start achieving this is by greeting your customers by name, to create an immediate personal connection. Agents should also use the customer’s name when responding to interactions during the conversation in a natural manner.
[Image source: Pixabay]
Your call center solution or Unified Communications platform should have Caller ID features and/or integrations with your client database or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that provide details about a customer’s name and preferred mode of address. These systems may also provide call and transaction history data that enables your agents to better address their issues.
4. Engage Customers in an Actual Conversation
As part of your customer support best practices, you may have provided your agents with a set of guidelines for dealing with various issues. This “script” should not be taken as a rigid dialogue. Rather, your agent should engage the customer in an actual conversation that deals with the particular problem they are having.
Starting with small talk is perfectly acceptable in this context, and can help in establishing a rapport with the customer. Asking open-ended questions and expanding the conversation to include matters that relate to their query can also encourage a fuller response from the customer, and provide clues that enable your support team to resolve their issue more completely.
5. Be Sympathetic, and Mirror Their Tone
It’s human nature to respond positively to someone who talks to you in a similar tone to the one that you yourself are using. In this way, mirroring the customer’s tone helps to create the impression that a support agent is actually on their side.
The exception here is dealing with an angry or frustrated customer. In such cases, the agent should do their best to induce calm and assure the customer that you are committed to helping in whatever way possible.
6. Exercise Patience and Listen Actively
As we just noted, callers to customer support lines may be angry, frustrated, or stressed out. Agents must therefore be prepared to allow them to vent their feelings to a certain extent, while listening attentively to identify the exact nature and roots of the problem that is upsetting them.
Active listening does not have to be silent, either. Agents who interject phrases like “I understand” or “I see” into the conversation can help to reassure the customer that they are actually getting through.
7. Restate the Customer’s Issue – and Give Steps on How to Resolve It
To clarify matters in the minds of your support agent — and to give the customer reassurance that the agent understands their problem — your agent should repeat the problem after the customer describes it. At this point, the customer has an opportunity to add any details that they might have missed.
Your agent should now be in a position to lay out a strategy for resolving the problem, and describe each of these steps to the customer.
8. Give Support Agents a List of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In addition to a friendly and courteous reception from Customer Support, callers also expect prompt and comprehensive resolution of their queries and problems. Providing your agents with a list of Frequently Asked Questions with appropriate responses can go some way towards assuring this.
9. Seek Expert Help if Necessary
If a customer calls with a particularly complex issue, it may be necessary for your support agent to seek expert assistance, in order to adequately resolve it. This might for example involve consulting another department or your call center manager, or getting the advice of a subject matter expert.
In all cases where such an escalation is required, it is critical to communicate the reasons for this referral to the customer, and to give them an estimated time frame for final resolution of their issue. Going the extra mile in this way can tip the balance between retaining or losing the customer.
10. Offer Alternative Methods of Contact for the Follow Up
Once a problem has been initially resolved, it’s important to follow up with the customer. On the one hand, this is to ensure that a genuine resolution has actually occurred. Follow-up also gives you the opportunity to elicit feedback from the customer as to how they were treated on the call and how well your support agents have performed.
Since the customer may prefer that an agent contact them via email, SMS, live chat, or some other means, you should provide alternatives for this follow-up communication. A contact center solution can offer such alternatives in a single integrated platform.
How to Further Boost Your Customer Support Capabilities
Even the friendliest and most efficient customer support department in the world can be let down by poor voice quality or a bad communications network plagued by jittery lines and lag.
Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) helps to eliminate these problems by enabling businesses to bring or choose a network carrier to plug into an existing phone system. For example, IDT’s BYOC provides unmatched call quality, intelligent routing, and advanced voice features.
To find out more about how IDT can assist in making your customer support more friendly and efficient, get in touch with us.