If you’ve put in the work to get a customer to commit to your business, the last thing you want to do is lose them because of poor communication. A customer falling through the cracks doesn’t just lose you that sale, it may end up costing you that customer’s friends, family and coworkers. Bad customer service experiences spread much more rapidly than good customer service experiences. If your business develops a reputation for bad customer service, it can be a deep, expensive hole to climb out of. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to make sure that customer needs are being met with just a little bit of effort.
Share Your Knowledge
As your business grows, you’re going to grow more and more isolated from day-to-day operations, which means your institutional knowledge is going to be unavailable to your front line customer service agents. All the little tips and tricks that you’ve picked up in the years of running things your way aren’t going to be available to a new hire unless you make them available! To make sure that your customer service reps rep you the way you want, create a customer service manual that compiles the wisdom that you’ve accrued and have new hires study it before giving them the keys to your kingdom.
Empower Your Customer Service Agents
Competent customer service agents play the largest role in whether a customer service experience is a happy one. However, you could have the most capable customer service agent in the world, but if he or she only has the power to pass a customer on down the line, then it isn’t going to matter. Give your customer service agents the training and tools they need to solve problems immediately and you’ll have fewer cracks for customers to slip through. Depending on your industry, this could encompass first-level tech support, account management, or simply the ability to supply discounts.
The advantage to having real people on your customer service team is that they can act like, well, people! The only people who like scripts and canned responses are managers who are terrified of giving their agents autonomy. By engaging customers in real conversations, your customer service agents are more likely to get to the root of the problem and uncover solutions that a script wouldn’t allow. Customers value honesty and authenticity, and there’s nothing more dishonest than canned customer service!
Write Things Down
In the age of feature-laden CRM tools, this seemingly-antiquated method is one of the most effective customer service techniques around. Even the most productive interaction can be derailed if you don’t remember what happened during it. Customer service agents should keep a record of each interaction where they identify the customer, outline the problem and explain what steps were taken toward a solution. It saves you from a forgetfulness inspired customer service fiasco and can help identify recurrent issues that need to be addressed with your business.
Ask If You’ve Solved the Problem
It sounds basic, but at the end of each interaction, directly ask the customer if you’ve solved their problem. If you have, it’s a good reminder to them of what great customer service you provide. If you haven’t, you’re not letting the customer get away without fixing things. This subtle way of asking for feedback during the point of contact is liable to get better results than an easily-ignored follow-up survey.
Streamlining customer service feels like a risk for business owners, because reducing redundancies necessitates putting more trust in your employees to resolve customer issues. However, it’s a risk worth taking if you want to be known for effective, authentic customer service.
Author: Mark Hastings is the CEO of Hastings Humans, an Austin, TX based 24/7 call center that’s been providing around-the-clock customer service for businesses of all size since 1948.