Customer service is one of the most important aspects of every business. It’s the way your customers will see you. It’s the lifeblood of your company. Let’s take a look what goes into customer service, what forms does it and how you can improve it.
We’ll also take a look at some good customer service examples to give you a better idea how you should organize customer service in your business.
What is customer service
Customer service is about the way a business interacts with its customers. All communication that happens between a company and a customer is a part of it.
The faster, more helpful, reliable and pleasant this communication is, the better a customer will feel about a business. And when customers feel good about a business, they are willing to spend more money on the products or services the business offers.
You get all kinds of customer support. Unfortunately, most of the time you will see bad customer service. Since providing customer support on a decent level is not that easy, most companies will either have a sloppy response time or will take forever to resolve a case.
As you might imagine, good customer service is something much harder to come by. Only a small portion of businesses take the time to improve their customer suport and to deliver a good experience to their customers. Total devotion to customers, constant over-delivering are a few tells revealing that you are dealing with a company offering good customer service.
Going beyond that and offering exceptional customer service will require even more work and even more sacrifices. Very few companies have managed to reach this level and it doesn’t look like that is about to change anytime soon.
Where does customer service happen
Since we can now tell good customer service apart from the bad one, let’s talk about all the places where the magic happens.
Customers will use all kinds of channels to get in touch with a company. Consequently, customer service will need to happen on all those channels.
The idea that customer support should be available to a customer no matter the channel they pick is called multi-channel customer service.
Since customers don’t know your business as well as you do, they won’t know which channel they should pick to get a fast answer. Instead, they will go for the channel they like the most. So putting all your effort into a single channel will bring in limited return since only a portion of your customers will chose it.
The most common customer support channels include:
1) email: customer service email communication between customers and a business, usually it takes a couple of hours to get an answer like this,
2) live chat: help that happens live on a company’s website, the fastest and most efficient method,
3) phone: real-time help over phone, eats up a lot of resources because only one call can happen at a time for one agent,
4) help desk: emails evolved, a more complex way to handle asynchronous communication,
5) social media: support that happens via Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
Social-media customer service
While on the topics of different support channels, social media customer service is the latest addition to the bunch.
Social media has put a lot of power into customers’ hands. First off, they customers now have a much easier way to contact a business. They don’t have to remember any emails or phone numbers. They just need to go to Facebook or Twitter and ask a question.
Secondly, the question will stick like a sore thumb for all other customers to see it. If it’s not resolved quickly, it will not only result in a poor experience for the customer but it also will reflect badly on your brand.
Even if you have more prominent channels available, customers will often pick social media because they already know how to use them.
Businesses will often ignore questions asked via social media just because they have other contact options available. If you decide to set up a social media channel, you should be ready to answer support questions on that channel.
In-app customer service
Another emerging method of providing customer service is in-app support. It’s basically help that is built into all kinds of apps and software products.
The idea here is to provide immediate contact options for customers so that they don’t have to leave an app to get help.
As a result, problems are resolved before they become big enough that the customer has to leave the app to get them sorted out.
The customers in ‘customer service’
When working in customer suport, you will encounter all kinds of customers. Different types of customers will require different approaches.
It would be great if all customers were polite and knew that you don’t have absolute problem-resolving power. You will encounter cases of seriously bad customers. They won’t be satisfied with any answer you give, no matter how hard you try.
From time to time, you will encounter an irate customer that won’t understand that you need a couple of minutes to locate the root of the problem. There will be flat out rude customers who will try to punish you for things you can’t really change, like deliveries delayed by bad weather or the fact that the customer ordered the wrong version of a product.
When dealing with such cases, it’s important to know that the customer is not always right. It’s true that you should do everything in you power to help a customer. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a free pass to abuse agents. People working in customer service need to know where going the extra mile for customers ends and agent abuse begins.
Preparing your customer service
The cases I listed may seem like a bit much. However, you can prepare for them by introducing the right skills and training into your customer service.
You need to know what customer service skills every agent should have. This will allow you to first hire for those skills and later on set up customer service training to boost those skills.
For example, your agents should be masters of positive communication. They should aim to help customers find something positive even in the most dire situations.
To surprise your customers and over-deliver, agents should know the ins and outs of proactive customer service. Instead of waiting for the customer to ask a question, they should spot potential customer pain points and offer help proactively.
One of the most useful skills they can have is customer service problem solving. Agents rarely will have all the information or the perfect set of tools so having the ability to find a solution no matter what will definitely come in handy.
Examples of good customer support
What’s a better way to see how you should run your support than to check out some successful companies that already run amazing customer service departments?
Media Temple is a web hosting company we can definitely recommend. Media Temple has put a lot of thought into running a customer service department and it definitely shows in their customer satisfaction results. If you’re looking for customer service training ideas, you should definitely check them out because they have the whole training process down to a T.
If your team works remotely, Buffer customer service is something you should check out. Despite having a pretty big team, they are able to handle a lot of of questions from customers without a hitch.
Want to find out how bigger companies handle support? Check out Amazon, Verizon and Comcast customer service for the biggest implementations. Want to see how industry leaders do it? Check out how Apple, Uber and Netflix handle customer service on their websites.
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