There’s nothing worse than bad customer support (well, maybe there is, but it certainly ranks high on the list of bad stuff...).
Even average customer support leaves clients dissatisfied and prone to abandon you for a competitor with better customer service.
We’re sure you know the basics: empathy, active listening, efficiency, etc. However, there’s always a lot you can do to delight your customers and retain them profitably.
Read on to find out 5 tips to improve your customer support.
# 1 - Personalize everything (and we mean everything)
The key to great customer support is personalization, from using often the person’s name to taking the time to listen to their problems and provide a relevant response - not just a pre-scripted answer.
Be human. Customers will respond better if you go beyond technical support and ask them questions about themselves or even about the weather.
Personalization involves getting to know your customer needs and make useful purchase recommendations. Your CRM should tell you what they have purchased in the past and have information on previous interactions with the company.
A study on personalization found that 49% of customers have purchased a product that they did not initially intend to buy after receiving a personalized recommendation from the rep. It also found that 40% of U.S. consumers say they have purchased something more expensive than they originally planned because their experience was personalized.
So, even on a customer support interaction, there’s an opportunity for upselling and creating loyalty, if the customer support agent is able to understand the customer’s needs and personalize the service.
# 2 - Go multi-channel or go broke
Gone are the days when customers relied only on toll-free numbers to wait to speak with a customer support specialist. Now we have email, SMS, social media, online chat and more.
Today, companies must connect with customers where they are, even social media. Twitter and Facebook Messenger are popular ways to solve customer support issues.
Other companies are using texting apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram because their clients are already using those apps anyway. WhatsApp is very popular outside the U.S., with 1.5 billion users worldwide, and you can now find the WhatsApp icon on corporate websites as a preferred method of contact. In fact, there are 3 million companies using the WhatsApp Business app.
Should you use SMS? Of course! Research has found that 99% of all text messages are read, so it’s a great way to keep in touch with your customers.
In addition to the channels mentioned above, include a knowledge base or FAQs section on your website, as three-quarters of customers report that they prefer to find an answer on their own rather than reaching out to customer support.
Keep in mind, though, that for the user, the multichannel experience has to be seamless. If their first contact is through Twitter and then they follow up through email, they expect you to know what’s going on and not having to repeat themselves. A great deal of frustration comes when customers have to explain again and again their issue or complaint because the CRM has not tracked previous interactions across available channels.
# 3 - Become a live chat fanatic
Although mentioned above, live chat deserves a category on its own.
Up to 80 percent of customer support interactions could be handled by a chatbot alone; and more than 40% of people prefer live chat over other contact methods because it prevents them from being placed on hold.
The end of customer support is customer satisfaction, right? Well, it turns out that customers feel most satisfied during their buyer's journey when using a live chat feature (92%), compared to voice (88%), email (85%), and even social media messaging (Facebook 84%, Twitter 77%).
There are many benefits of live chat for customer support:
- - Immediate two-way conversation for faster resolution times; as opposed to email where you usually go back and forth over multiple days.
- - Fewer interruptions compared to the phone, as customers can be at work chatting with a customer rep without having to completely stop what they’re doing to get on a call.
- - Customer support reps can offer live help while the customer is on the website or interacting with the product. In fact, 44% of consumers say that one of the most important features of a website is being able to get answers to their questions during a purchase.
# 4 - Recruit a few robots to help out
Well, not actual robots (although if you can afford them, why not?), but Artificial Intelligence.
AI has been advancing rapidly in the past few years, impacting the way we do business in lots of forms.
One way AI can improve your customer support is with sentiment analysis. Also known as emotion AI, sentiment analysis classifies tickets as “frustrated”, “neutral”, “excited” and the like. With this info in hand, agents can prioritize tasks and escalate queries more effectively.
AI can also analyze customer call data and classify interactions based on positive or negative outcomes and then analyze the patterns in each category to provide a script with the most effective phrases to use during support calls.
This is a new and exciting field that you can begin exploring and implementing before it becomes the standard - and by starting early, you’ll reap the benefits before everybody else.
# 5 - Forget about Customer Support
What? Wasn’t this article about improving customer support?
Yes, but why stay there? You can go beyond simple customer support and shift to customer success.
Focusing on customer success means proactively taking care of your customers to help them get maximum value of your product or service. This results in longer customer retention, turning customers into raving fans, and lots of referrals through word-of-mouth.
Start by setting up a customer success team within your company. The team should have a customer success strategy to meet the needs and expectations of your customers. The best way to do this is to educate them, anticipating their concerns and inquiries and showing them how to get the best out of your product or service before they find a problem and need to contact technical support.
Companies that bet on customer success have happier loyal customers that bring in more revenue.
How are your customer service skills?
The quality of your overall service relies heavily on the customer service skills of your agents. Patience, empathy and attentiveness, as well as great communication skills, are key
The above requires a great recruiting and training process (either in-house or with an outsourcing company). That process takes a great amount of time and resources, but in the meantime you can use these fast tips to improve your customer support.