It may surprise you but improving your customer service is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your relationship with customers and boost those repeat-sale numbers. It’s sure a lot faster than creating a new product or pushing out a software update.
Customer service is the front line for establishing recurring revenue, the lucrative and helpful revenue that doesn’t come with those high acquisition costs. This isn’t just a service for after a sale, it’s a long-term but low-impact way to keep your sales funnel going.
For many businesses, customer service teams are involved in funnels of new leads as well as existing customers. Maximizing the value you give your customers requires a vigilant eye and a bit of training. If you want to grow your offering and develop a more engaged customer base, here are seven of our favorite customer service experience tips based on experiences we’ve all had, good and bad.
1. Train agents on communication
Customer service teams aren’t going to be helpful if they don’t have the right skills and know how to use the tools you provide. A great piece of CRM or trouble ticket system can’t solve problems for you, they only point people in the right direction.
So, train your agents and keep on training them on how to communicate and address problems.
Some of your biggest training elements are going to need to be your product and knowledge base first. Reps need to know the product inside and out to understand if what they are suggesting will actually make a difference. We’ve all had the experience of reaching a call center where they didn’t know the product or software update and are asking us to take steps that simply can’t be done.
No one likes being on the call. Not the sales rep and not the customer.
After you’ve got them in a good place with your offering, expand training on ways to deliver high-quality service. Teach disarming techniques. Show reps how to admit when there is an issue and then roll right into a useful response. You can help them establish rapport by showing them how to highlight shared interests or common ground with customers.
Active listening and repeating of problems for clarity are also two major improvements that help your customers feel taken care of and heard. Knowing someone is paying attention will help de-escalate many of those tough calls.
Continuing education on product is just as important as service techniques because both will aid agents in developing specific empathy for customers and their situations.
2. Keep it personal through tech
Customer service is all about relationships, but there are many tools that can help you establish the trust that’s needed for a good relationship.
Start with your website and its ability to capture details when someone visits. Cookies and tracking pixels and login details can be captured automatically to help you understand a little bit of demographic data and start to narrow the initial support you provide. If you’re also tracking phone numbers and emails, then you will know who is contacting you and can pull up their file or past concerns more quickly.
Customers who are interacting with you are willing to give some information for a better service, so consider this when you make the ask. This messaging doesn’t have to be dour.
Please tell us your name, so we get it right, because no one likes to be treated like a coffee cup.
When your team transitions to providing the actual support, they’ll want to tailor the solution as much as possible. Often, that means answering the same questions as always but getting the person’s name right. However, sometimes you’re addressing novel problems.
When something new or complicated comes up, screenrecord your thoughts and actions that occur as you provide support using a webcam recorder or free screen recorder. This gives you a chance to share it with other agents for assistance or to share with the customer to prevent an issue from happening a second time.
Remember, more than 80% of customers have churned because they experienced bad customer service. Respond quickly and be amiable, using all the trust-building tips you know — like getting the customer’s name right each and every time.
3. Use photos and video to keep things clear
Show don’t tell is a leading piece of advice that all your favorite books, TV shows, movies, and online communications. It’s what makes us jump right into the action of a film, where we see what’s happening and the new world, instead of trying to read about it in a dark room.
Bring this philosophy to your customer service department too.
Visuals and video sharing make it easy for people to follow along, which is why many support systems online are now adding in Zoom and other meetings. People get to see the steps that are actually required right now, instead of reading a help ticket or FAQ that could be out of date. Seeing makes it easy to repeat these steps.
CloudApp takes this philosophy a little further by helping you record and curate videos. By snipping small pieces, you can give your customer the 30 seconds it takes to get the right dashboard or 6 seconds to adjust the right setting.
At the same time, your team gets the full 15 or 30-minute recording so you can evaluate performance, train based on real-world examples, or even share a new problem or solution. Your service reps are the front line in support and often see issues before anyone else.
For example, let’s say you sell goods online and have an e-commerce platform integrated with a shipping system so that someone else does your order fulfillment. Your e-commerce platform updates and for some reason orders from your website no longer get sent to the team managing the third-party warehouse. If you’re the first to notice it and call, then it’s likely the customer service team you’re speaking with will be the first at the warehouse company and the e-commerce platform to see it.
They figure out the issue and give you a few steps to fix it, but it could take a while. Not the greatest, but if the service is good, then you won’t mind too much.
But, if you’re the tenth person to have the issue and you call into a center that uses video, not only can they resolve your problem in just a few minutes, but they can send you a video to walk you through any stages. The problem is solved quickly.
Let’s be totally honest: there’s nothing that can make every customer service interaction lightning fast. However, tools like screen and video capture for customer support make it easier for every additional customer that has the issue. Plus, if it’s a problem like integration, you can reach out to the other software provider and show them a video of what’s broken, encouraging them to fix it too.
It’s a very user-friendly and customer-friendly tool to give you a holistic support option.
4. Highlight product reviews and case studies
Customers — B2B and B2C — all want to know what your other customers think. They want to see experiences and hear the results, so they have an idea of what to expect. Think of the last time you used Yelp to check out a restaurant or left a review of a hotel on a travel site. Many people like writing reviews or participating in case studies, but many, many more read those reviews.
BrightLocal, which does an annual survey on the topic, found that 86% of all consumers read reviews, and this jumps up to 95% for people aged 18 to 34 looking at local businesses. The average buyer will read 10 online reviews before they feel like they can trust you.
Numbers are just as high in the B2B space, with estimates ranging from 85% to 92% of customers looking for reviews, testimonials, and case studies.
Many customer service teams realize this, but what can be buried in the data is that nearly 90% of people will read your responses to reviews. So, when a customer writes something on your site, respond. Share these.
If someone contacts your customer service team about an issue, share when customers had similar experiences, good or bad.
It’s hard to share a bad experience or review, but it’s necessary. Your customers will find them, with or without you. But through proactive customer support, you can control the conversation. Show when someone didn’t get what they expected and how you responded. Customer service is often about solving problems, to demonstrate how you do just that.
Your most powerful review or case study may end up being one where a customer had an issue, you responded with a solution, and the customer then turned a 1-star problem into a 5-star customer service response.
Give people what they want without making them look hard for it. We’d bet it’s what you want the next time you call for some help.
5. Make follow-up your priority
Customer support doesn’t end with a trouble ticket or a quick conversation. And, sometimes a customer won’t come back a second time even if a problem persists — they may blame you or themselves for the issue, but either way, it’ll hurt your bottom line if they stop being a customer.
So, check in with people after your service interactions to ensure the problem is solved and that they’re satisfied.
This doesn’t have to be an email asking how you did, and your first follow-up probably shouldn’t be. Do you really want someone to feel like they need to rate your service when they’re still dissatisfied from last time?
Instead, try a quick email that is very brief and just asks if things are okay. Use basic personal information you collected like their name and the specific product they had issues with to help build the personal connection. If your customer support software allows for notes, add in one of those. Many people like to talk about the weather when they feel nervous, so a short sentence saying you hope the rain missed them or that they’re enjoying the sunshine can go a long way to keeping things light and personable.
Don’t make any requests for them to take additional steps beyond a yes/no if the problem is addressed. That way, you continue to be a supportive partner, not someone giving them tasks.
We, of course, like a follow-up that gives people a proactive reminder of how to solve their issue when possible. If you believe the problem was solved and you captured a little bit of chat or a demonstration video that reminds them how to address things, add that in under your greeting. You get to be a little more proactive about recurring issues and you might cut down on the number of calls or chats your agents must field.
6. Review the entire support process
How easy is it to get in touch with your support team? Do you have long wait times? Is the first round of questions so routine that your reps don’t get useful information?
It’s time to run the gauntlet of your customer support process and see how it works. You’ll likely discover plenty of places where things can be improved, removed, or refined. Testing through the lens of a real customer can make a more significant impact than just reviewing call logs. Look for ways to reduce concerns and needs while also improving the solutions you offer.
There’s no magic formula to a good support call, beyond flexibility. Teach and train your team to be responsive and helpful, while also learning as much about your products and services as possible. Helping them identify issues and helpful responses will go a long way to delivering quality service to your customers.
As you run through the process and identify gaps, pair rep training with improvements to your knowledge base. Standardize responses and assets — think of what we already mentioned: case studies, reviews, videos, white papers, etc. — so your agents have the most relevant information at their fingertips and know how to find it.
7. Prioritize the customer’s viewpoint
A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship. A customer who leaves today and never comes back has a lifetime value that only diminishes over time. You’ll have to spend more to acquire new leads and customers, leading to more calls and emails as you push to get conversions high enough to stay afloat.
A service review should always keep the offering and your customer in mind, looking for things that improve how you interact. This might mean adding a chatbot to quickly answer questions or putting your phone number on your website so that people don’t have to hunt to contact you.
It’s now easy to make your search function and results more intuitive, as well as organizing your navigation buttons, so they make sense to the customer. Walk through every element to see if you would be satisfied as a customer.
If you’re looking for a low-impact, high-value way to get this started, jump to your FAQ page right now. Does it answer questions that you, the business owner or manager, would ask? Does it tackle questions the customer would ask? Are you using their language or yours?
Rebuild your FAQ from the customer’s perspective and the answers you give will become more valuable and useful, even if the concepts don’t change.
Want to see what a difference great service makes?
Like we said in the beginning, showing is much more powerful than just saying. So, we invite you to sign up for a free CloudApp account and then contact our support team with any questions you have. We’ll walk you through any process with using our software and even send over a couple of quick videos we’ve made with CloudApp to simplify tasks and much more.