While there are a plethora of online resources offering tips, scripts, and advice for sellers or other company representatives on how to effectively handle a cold outreach or outbound strategy, there is a bit of a gap of information on how one should engage when a customer is reaching out to them.
Whether this can be chalked up to operating under the assumption that inbound calls are more intuitive of a task or don’t require as much of a concrete strategy, it’s safe to say that there are definitely some steps your customer-facing teams should be taking to ensure they’re providing your clients a great experience.
Let’s dive in.
Inbound Calling: The Gist
Inbound calls are phone calls made to a company's customer success or support team and are used to gather information about a customer's problem, resolve an issue, and/or help provide a better experience for that customer. The main goal of an inbound call is to facilitate a solution for the caller. They are, after all, the one’s reaching out to you.
Alternatively, outbound calls are made by representatives of a business to its (potential) customers with the purpose of making sales, generating new leads, or otherwise promoting a product or service.
Handling inbound calls might seem like a simple concept—you get a call, you answer it—but any customer-centric company knows that there’s an art and science to handling inbound calls to best serve your clients (and your business).
Meeting Your Customers Where They Are
On the CloudApp blog, we talk a lot about the DNA of a good customer experience and actionable steps you can take to push yours to the next level. One of the most important components to ensure success in your inbound strategy: availability.
When a person is taking the time out of their day to reach out to you, convenience and efficiency is of the highest priority. This interaction is a crucial (and frankly, fragile) moment in determining how your customer will consider your brand in the future. So it's of the utmost importance that your reps handle every case with care. This is especially true when we consider that as more of customers' interactions are now online, the demand for quick and effective support is growing.
Inbound calls have always been at the center of quality customer service, and although we've been moving to more and more alternative means of communication like live chat software or sending a CloudApp, an effective CRM strategy still requires quality phone service as a fundamental in most industries.
The first step in making your customer's life as easy as possible in interacting with you is by making your contact information accessible and not a headache to find. Like any good customer success interaction, its important that the entire process with your company be as seamless as possible, and the customer having to jump through hoops to get in contact with a rep is only going to have them more frustrated by the time they get someone on the line.
Once the call comes in, the assigned rep should try to resolve the issue with a focus on effectiveness over speed.
A significant part of any client facing role— I'm talking sales, account management, support, customer success, etc.— is about meeting the customer where they are. Some customers will only need a quick explanation and have it figured out and some may require more extensive assistance.
Customer service reps must be able to access information quickly - whether through a database system or by using their own knowledge of company policies and procedures. Being familiar with how things work within your organization will give them confidence when answering customers' questions promptly, so make everything easy to access for your employees as well as your customers.
Another thing is also true: there is no better way to convert a potential churned customer or detractor into an advocate and champion of your brand than by offering them quality customer service. The bar for support tends to be so low that even a little bit of effort can go a long way.
Why You Need a Strategy
There's a chance you're still not convinced you need a concrete strategy in place in terms of your inbound support. You have a solid product and know how to hire competent people, right?
Putting some additional thought into how your customer success and support teams should handle inbound requests from customers is setting all parties up for success, and here is what that could look like:
Your team can handle variations in ticket volume:
The number of inbound inquiries fluctuates due to a wide variety of factors. Maybe you added a new product update or feature. Or maybe there's a widespread issue affecting a percentage of your customer. Things happen. Having a strategy in place lets you use metrics to track call volume, set output goals, and help you guide decisions in regards to hiring, headcount, and tools you might want to invest in.
Your team can provide the right type of service:
Do you have different teams handling different types of inquiries? There are a whole slew of tasks that could be performed under this function. You should set standards in place to help determine if reps have different specializations or whether there are different teams handling reactive support vs. something like upselling or promoting a new product. Know what your different customers will need and have the right people and tools in place to solve that pain point.
Your team can live up to your promises:
An inbound strategy enables your company to stand by its promises of availability and reliability. It can also help manage expenses with labor and other factors, each interaction costs money. For instance, you might want to reserve your call option to customers who prefer that channel or require it most. This also might help you consider different ways of training employees, incentive programs, and considering CRM programs to help.
In addition to all of the things your customer success and support teams can do in real time to help your customers, one underrated and often overlooked aspect of inbound strategy is setting up features and information in place that will help your customers help themselves.
You'd be surprised at how many companies lack a quality FAQ page or a single instructional video on YouTube that could eliminate a considerable percentage of their inbound emails and calls. As I've referenced, a customer physically reaching out to a company tends to be a last resort option, so have quality resources on your webpage, socials, and marketing materials that could make a lot of your support tickets disappear. In this case, a little bit of work early on in the backend will mean far less headaches in the future.
Tools to Help Your Inbound Operations
As you already know, traditional phone calls are the classic means of handling customer support and inbound requests, at least historically.
In addition to the software you're already using to help your reps track tickets and record calls, there are a few other options taking the customer success world by storm. Younger generations are far more averse to hopping on a phone call and busy professionals would rather not take thirty minutes out of their day to sit on hold.
The types of programs that have recently revolutionized support operations fall into three categories: social-media, live chat bots, and screen recording tools.
Social Media as a Tool
Okay, so social as a tool for customer support might not be all that new, but the way and rate in which customers have begun interacting with brands online is definitely increasing. And you should take advantage of it.
Social media inbound customer service is offering support through social channels, mainly like Facebook and It lets businesses meet customers where they are and quickly answer questions.
According to Zendesk, over 60% of customers think solving an issue fast is the most important part of good support. That alone makes social media customer service invaluable because it’s another channel for near-instant chat. Once again, your inbound strategy is all about eliminating friction.
Social media sites have evolved to be more than marketing and advertising platforms. Today, they’re also valid and important channels for consumers to get customer service, so its likely you should consider it as part of your customer experience strategy. It's also a great way to keep a pulse on greater industry trends or customer attitudes.
Live Chat Software as a Tool
Live chat software is a medium that allows your business to engage with your customers via your own website in real-time, via messaging. It is also commonly referred to as customer messaging software. You can use live chat software to initiate conversations with first-time website visitors, interact with returning customers, and support your existing users. It is a modern, continuous, and contextual way to drive more sales, close more deals, and retain customers for the long haul.
Live chat offers personalized customer experience, better brand interactions, and a competitive edge, all while being more efficient than email and less intrusive than a phone call. Implementing a live chat solution for your business can be used by your customer support and success teams to benefit your customers' journey.
Screen Recording as a Tool
This is probably the most recent option taking the support world by storm.
Screen recorders are a great option in handling inbound requests because of just how versatile they can be.
Within one program like CloudApp, you can easily create support materials that not only tell your customers what's going on, but shows them too.
With only a couple of clicks you can create full-blown tutorials catered to the individual customer in the form of a screenshot, GIF, or screen recording. CloudApp is especially great because it allows you to record your screen at the same time as your front-facing webcam, so whoever is handling the case can add a personal touch and the helpful context of things like facial expression and tone. It's a big hit with customers and provides the best of both worlds of the clarity of the in-person interaction with the comfort of their own home and on their own time.
In our opinion, this is definitely the way to go when handling more complex issues or sensitive customers. Using a screen recorder is an all around win-win for customers and customer success teams alike. Many teams who have tried it have seen their speeds of handling tickets increase as well as a major improvement in customer happiness scores.
You can try CloudApp for free today here.