When a customer or client calls or visits a customer support center, they expect to receive more than just basic answers to their question or concern. They expect to interact with an attentive, empathic associate who can provide knowledge, support, and solutions – even guidance beyond their original question or need.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder Amazon
Customer service reps are usually the first point of contact for a customer, so it is very important for them to be well-trained and prepared for a variety of customer support scenarios. In order to provide excellent service, they need to not only have an in-depth knowledge of the products and services that are offered but to also know what to do before, during, and after a conversation. Let’s go into more detail about how to handle these stages:
Being Prepared for the Conversation
If a call is being transferred from another associate or colleague, they can ask the customer to wait on hold for a couple of minutes while you look up their information in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This gives you time to look up their record, so you are better prepared to address their question, concern, or complaint. Take note as to whether the customer has contacted the company before, or if their complaint has been escalated because their concern has yet to be resolved. If you receive a direct call, you can still take a moment to check the customer’s information, while making pleasant conversation, so you gain as much insight as you can while on the call. Either way, it’s very important to be prepared so you can provide the most personalized service possible.
Providing Customer Support During the Conversation
While speaking with the customer, your tone and demeanor should reflect how much you value them and their business. Make an effort to connect, listen effectively, and show a genuine interest. Gain as much information as you can and enter detailed notes into their record about your conversation. Recap the question or issue so you make sure you have understood completely what the customer needs. If there isn’t a straightforward answer or solution, make sure to think outside the box to assist them.
Escalate the Call When Needed
If you determine that you aren’t the right person to help with the customer’s question or complaint and need to transfer them to someone who can, make sure to explain why. This can be as simple as saying, “I’m going to have you speak with a supervisor who will get this taken care of for you right away.” The transition from one team member to the next should be as seamless and effortless as possible, to minimize wait times and prevent frustration.
Thank the Customer
When ending a conversation, make sure to thank the customer for their business and their time. Ask them if their question or concern has been resolved. If there was an issue, make sure to apologize. Encourage them to provide feedback to you about their experience with your company or by sending them a satisfaction survey. Ask open-ended questions so that the customer feels free to share in more detail if there are any aspects to their experience that could be improved.
“Never ask a customer a closed question if your goal is candid feedback” – Chip Bell
After the Conversation
It’s essential to follow up both internally and with the customer to make sure they are completely satisfied. This could be in the form of a follow-up phone call or email, or even a note in the mail. What is important is that we demonstrate that we care and intend to maintain a long-term relationship with the customer, beyond sales or support.
We’ll end here with a nugget of wisdom from customer service expert Shep Hyken:
“It is clear that nurturing positive relationships with customers will bring value to your business. People invest in businesses when they feel positive about them. A large percentage would even pay more for a product or service if they’re guaranteed great customer care.”