Showing top 0 results 0 results found
Showing top 0 results 0 results found
When reading about good customer service examples, it's easy to dismiss them as flukes.
Someone raved about the amazing customer service they just received? The problem wasn’t probably that difficult to begin with.
A friend recommended a service that offers a near-instantaneous response rate? The company probably has very few cases, so it's easy for them to answer.
As someone with experience in this field, I can tell you that excellent customer service is more than just a matter of luck or circumstances. Developing the proper methods, tools, and know-how to consistently deliver exceptional service takes a lot of hard work.
So don't dismiss good customer service examples as flukes – take the time to learn from them and apply those lessons to your work.
This article will explore the essential skills and components of good customer service. We will provide actionable customer service tips and best practices businesses can use to improve customer service operations.
Whether you are a small business owner or a large corporation, you’ll get valuable insight into delivering great customer service and standing out from the competition. So, let's dive in and discover how to do so and smoothly avoid unhappy customers and provide great customer service.
The definition of a good customer service
Good customer service is the foundation of any successful business. It refers to the quality of assistance and customer support a company provides to its customers before, during, and after a purchase.
Regarding good customer service, two key factors play a crucial role.
Firstly, you want to solve every case as quickly as possible. After all, the longer a problem persists, the more frustrating it is for the customer. Even if you can't solve the problem immediately, responding to their initial question with a promise of a solution later on is much better than leaving them in the dark.
Secondly, you want to make the experience as pleasant and professional as possible. This means that your customer service agents must be skilled in social interaction, quick thinking, and able to find solutions under pressure. Think of them as your double O agents, licensed to help your customers in any way they can. But don't worry. You don't need a couple of James Bonds to provide good customer service.
If you can get one of these factors right, it can compensate for a deficiency in the other. For example, if your team responds quickly, customers will likely overlook a less-than-enthusiastic attitude. On the other hand, if your agents provide world-class service but take a little longer to solve the issue, customers will still be satisfied and consider it good customer service.
However, to achieve the Holy Grail of customer support, you must get both pieces of the puzzle right. When you can provide fast and effective solutions with a smile, your customers will love you for it. They may even wish for something to go wrong so that they can get another taste of your good customer service.
So, focus on speed and quality to improve your customer service game. Hungry for more? I'm glad you're nodding your head!
The genesis of good customer service is the hiring process
Did you know that the first step to providing excellent customer service happens before chats or calls with customers? It all starts with hiring the right people for customer support.
To provide good customer service, an agent needs the right skills, traits, and a cheat sheet with best practices from companies that are well-known for their excellent service, like Shopify’s customer service. And there are two ways to ensure this happens: hiring and training.
At LiveChat, we use both methods to ensure our agents are top-notch. We have a Customer Service Quiz for new hires and a Customer Service Training program for ongoing education and improvement. From our experience, hiring for the right customer service traits and training for skills is much easier than the other way around.
Let's say you have someone who's an expert in a technical area, like a programming language but lacks empathy. In the long run, hiring someone with solid compassion and teaching them the programming language is probably easier than the alternative. Finding the right character is often more important than having all the necessary skills.
First focus on the candidate's qualities during the interview and trial period, and provide customer service training opportunities for the skills they may need to improve.
To help you determine if a candidate would be a good fit for your customer service team, here are a few questions you can ask during an interview:
- What's the last skill you learned, and how did you know it? This question can give you insight into whether the candidate is a lifelong learner. If they answer with passion, it's a good sign that they enjoy learning and pick things up quickly.
- How would you handle a partial refund situation? This question is like the Kobayashi Maru of customer service – no "correct" answer exists. It forces the candidate to deal with a stressful situation and shows you how they handle suboptimal conditions where they can't give the customer everything they want.
- Can you teach me how to use your favorite app? This is a great way to see how the candidate would approach a customer service situation with a product they already know well. It also gives you a glimpse into their teaching and communication skills. It's a role-play scenario where someone can show you a glimpse of great customer service!
By asking questions like these, you can better understand whether a candidate would make a good fit for your customer service team. And remember, while skills can be taught, traits are often harder to change. So choose wisely!
A perfect skillset for every single customer service agent
Let's assume that you hired the right people; what's next? When it comes to providing excellent customer service, there are several skills that employees need to have. What are the most desired?
- Communication is essential for effectively conveying information and understanding customers' needs. Good communication can also help prevent misunderstandings and defuse tense situations. It's a prominent trait when all your work is based on information exchange.
- Problem-solving is another crucial skill, as customers often approach businesses seeking solutions to issues they're facing. Identifying the root of the problem and working collaboratively with the customer to find a solution can go a long way in creating a positive experience in the customer journey. How to deal with such difficulties? This article will tell you a lot about effective problem-solving.
- Patience. While many customers are pleasant to interact with, some may be frustrated, upset, or confused. Being patient, resistant to customer complaints, and calm can help de-escalate tense situations and make customers feel heard and valued. It's a core skill in good customer service.
- Product knowledge. Customers expect employees to have accurate information about their products or services. Detailed knowledge can also help employees make personalized customer recommendations, increasing sales and customer satisfaction. A need for more basic information about the product is a perfect recipe for the angry customer.
- Empathy is an essential skill for understanding and addressing customers' concerns. It's about putting yourself in the customer's shoes and showing that you care about their situation. Like in many other life situations - a change in perspective may be refreshing. That's why active listening skills are also crucial in this matter.
- Resourcefulness is also a valuable trait in customer service. Sometimes, customers may present unique problems that require creative solutions. In that situation, more than model product knowledge might be needed. Resourceful employees can think outside the box and devise innovative ways to solve customer issues. It's one of the remarks of great customer service.
- The ability to work in a team. Working collaboratively with colleagues can help ensure customers' needs are met efficiently and effectively. You'll appreciate this skill when more than product knowledge and resourcefulness is needed. It's self-explanatory in customer service teams.
- Imagination is also a helpful trait in customer service. Being imaginative allows employees to develop new and innovative ways to improve the customer experience.
- Honesty is crucial for building trust in customer support. Being upfront and transparent about any issues can help build customer loyalty.
- Responsibility is essential for taking ownership of customer issues and following through until the customer is satisfied. By cultivating these skills in their employees, businesses can build strong relationships with their customers and improve brand loyalty. This is what great customer service is built on.
Besides skills, what makes for excellent customer service?
Let's assume that your customer service team is armed with all the skills mentioned above and their knowledge about your product is exceptional. What areas are also essential to providing superb customer experience?
Offering help through multiple channels
Businesses must pay more attention to how customers view their customer service. While a company may have set up various channels to assist, customers may see them differently. Customers will use the channel they prefer the most, regardless of the business's preferred channel for support or sales. This is why you should be ready to assist with various channels like chat, phone, email, and social media. However, ensure you offer help on those channels only if you can handle all the inquiries smoothly.
Most businesses need to take advantage of the opportunities offered by multi-channel customer service. Social media is one of the channels where businesses often forget or, even worse, ignore customers asking questions. This is like someone with a broken leg coming to the ER only to find a sign saying the hospital is on the other side of town. It's a bad experience for customers, and it can damage your business's reputation. The longer a question goes unanswered on social media, the worse it looks.
Providing responses and solutions quickly
When it comes to providing a great customer experience, speed is everything. Even if you have the friendliest agents and the best solutions, your customers will only be delighted if it won’t take forever to get a response. But don't just take our word for it – the numbers speak for themselves. Our Customer Service Report shows a direct link between response time and satisfaction among customers (CSAT). The faster you respond, the happier your customers will be.
What does this mean for your business? How do you speed up your customer service? You should think of everything that keeps pulling you down and streamline the process.
A. Typing speed
First of all, in all types of online customer service, the typing speed of agents will be the deciding factor. There's no single skill worth developing more than typing speed.
Typing speed is the raw horsepower of your customer service. Even though it requires some extra finesse, like good communication, problem-solving, and other things, you can only go far with it.
Fast typing will help even when you don't have an immediate answer. When getting that quick, initial response, customers don't have to wonder if their question went through or if someone is working on it.
In other words, the faster you type, the quicker you can help.
To get better at typing, you need to start with a typing speed test to see what you can already do. Tests like this can also be used in the recruitment process to provide some extra data about the candidate.
Once you know how many WPM (words per minute) you can churn out, you can start practicing typing using various training programs. An app like keybr.com will allow you to adjust the training level once you improve.
Allocating as little as 15-20 minutes daily to train typing speed can quickly start paying dividends. The end goal is to be able to touch type and reach 80-90 WPM. With that speed, an agent can type a response in seconds and easily handle several simultaneous conversations on live chat (if you don't have a live chat app, you can test it for 30 days for free).
B. Work organization
Typing speed is one of many things that will help you create faster customer responses and solutions. Another significant factor is your ability to organize your work.
The more hoops an agent has to jump through when resolving cases, the longer they will take. Removing these hoops and streamlining the process should be your top priority.
For example, if agents need to get a manager's approval every time they want to make a refund, it can seriously hamper their ability to help customers.
There needs to be a place for bureaucracy in customer service. Customer service professionals need to be empowered so that they can handle most cases on their own. Ideally, you want a situation where agents only need to ask for something when a specific topic didn't happen in the past, and there's no set protocol for it.
That said, when agents need to consult someone, it would be great if they knew who to contact. Everyone should be aware of their teammates' skills and expertise. For example, a programming question shouldn't end up with someone specializing in refunds.
Tip for managers: Make a habit of directing specific questions to the right people only. The worst you can do in such a situation is to send the inquiry to the whole team. It creates this bystander effect – nobody wants to pick it up because others can do it too.
C. Time management
The third pillar of fast customer service is proper time management. Every distraction takes away from the precious time you could spend helping customers, extending the case resolution time.
The key to good time management is removing those distractions.
If you constantly procrastinate on websites like Facebook or Reddit, block them. If your mobile phone distracts you because of texts, notifications, and calls, turn it off or place it out of sight.
Are you good at time management and don't need to improve? Download a time-tracking app and prepare to be surprised.
When you start using an app like Rescue Time, you notice how much time is wasted on mundane or trivial things like reading company emails. I'd bet good money that you could save at least 30-40 minutes daily by adjusting your schedule.
What is the biggest time-eater? Internal communication, hands down. You don't need to read all the emails or Slack messages you get. Most of them are addressed to everyone and don't affect you. It's vital to filter those out and only react to the news that affects your work.
Self-service is also an answer
In addition to the strategies discussed above, businesses can invest in self-service options such as chatbots and virtual assistants. These tools can help customers find answers to their questions quickly and easily, without human interaction. Good customer service can also be automated. With all the tools we have today, it's becoming much easier to automate easy tasks and focus on complex issues.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are available 24/7, so customers can get help whenever needed, even outside regular business hours. Many offer ready-made templates that you can use, and rest assured - you don't have to have programming skills to create your assistant, which will serve your clients. One of the examples to test for free is ChatBot.
By offering self-service options, you can reduce the workload on your customer service teams and improve the overall customer experience. However, it's vital to ensure these tools are designed and implemented correctly to avoid frustrating customers with inaccurate or unhelpful responses. This is different from the customer experience that you're looking for!
With all these remarks in mind, how do you know your customer is up to scratch and satisfied? You must gather customer feedback whenever possible and monitor important customer service metrics. Customer surveys and NPS score measurements are the two main ways of gathering feedback.
You can send a short survey to your customers whenever you solve their problems. You don't even have to spend a ton of cash on it. You can create a small survey in Google Forms and have the results stored in Google Sheets – both come for free and will allow you to get started.
Another, more advanced way of gathering feedback is NPS surveys. NPS, which stands for Net Promoter Score, is a method of measuring the loyalty of your customers. In the survey, you first need to ask: "On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our service to your friends or colleagues?"
Depending on the answer, the customers are divided into Detractors (0-6, those who will eventually leave), Passives (7-8, customers who won't leave but also don't want to promote your business) and Promoters (9-10, customers who will go out of their way to say good things about your services).
In the second survey question, you ask the user to comment on their scores. This allows you to see what makes promoters like your services and what makes detractors leave. And once you know that, you can do something about it.
When it comes to metrics you should follow, these will largely depend on the tool you are using. However, most agencies will share the following metrics:
- Response time: The speed at which your agents reply to customers in live chat or ticketing system. The longer customers wait for a response, the more agitated they will get, and their experience will diminish.
- First response time: This metric deals only with an agent's first reply. This is important to track because the first response needs to be much quicker than the average response time. The customer needs to know that the cavalry is coming, so answering immediately makes sense even if you don't have a solution ready.
- Handle time: The average time it takes for an agent to resolve a case. Ultimately, you want to aim for low average handle times, but you should maintain quality for a bit faster resolution. Agents should make sure to answer questions thoroughly before finishing up a conversation.
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT): The most important metric that will show the overall satisfaction of your customers. It was usually calculated by checking the number of bad/reasonable rates an agent received and generating a percentage value. Aiming for an 80% customer satisfaction rate is best.
Strategies for Improving Customer Service
Improving your customer service can be daunting, but it's essential for the success of your business. Here are some actionable tips and strategies to take your customer service to the next level.
- Invest in customer service technology: Many tools can help streamline customer service operations. Consider using customer service software with ticket management (like HelpDesk), live chat, and social media integration features.
- Provide ongoing employee training: regular training and coaching can help your employees provide better customer service. This can include teaching them how to handle demanding customers, use your customer service software, and communicate effectively.
- Create a customer-centric culture: Make sure that everyone in your organization understands the importance of customer service. Encourage a culture of empathy and understanding where customers are treated like VIPs. This is far beyond good customer service!
By following these strategies, you can create a customer service operation that is effective and delights your customers. Remember, happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers are the key to your business's success. Voila!
Examples of companies with tremendous customer service
Many companies are known for their exceptional customer service, and here are just a few of them!
Zappos is an online shoe and clothing retailer with a reputation for excellent customer service. Their employees are known for being friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, and they go out of their way to create positive customer experiences. Zappos invests heavily in employee training and empowerment, and its customer-centric culture is vital to its success.
Amazon is one of the largest retailers in the world, and they've built its business on providing a convenient, fast, and reliable shopping experience for its customers. Their extensive customer service includes features like one-click ordering, free two-day shipping, and easy returns. Amazon also has a reputation for being responsive to customer feedback and concerns, and they're constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience.
Nordstrom is a luxury department store that has been around for over a century. They're known for their high-end products and excellent customer service. Nordstrom has a policy of putting the customer first, and their employees are empowered to go above and beyond to make customers happy. They also offer free shipping and returns and a generous loyalty program.
Businesses of all sizes can learn valuable lessons about creating magnificent customer service experiences by studying the examples of companies mentioned above. From investing in employee training and empowerment to being responsive to customer feedback, there are many ways to build a customer-centric culture that drives success and growth.
The End Game (not related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but equally important!)
I hope you've learned that good customer service is crucial to the success of any business.
Ultimately, prioritizing customer service is about more than just making customers happy in the short term. It's about building relationships, creating a positive reputation, and growing your business over time.
So, put your customers first, deliver exceptional customer service, and watch your business thrive. And understand that it's not a race (yes, response time is important), but a never-ending marathon!