It’s not so much what customers are saying out loud when they’re looking for service and support that could change the way they look at a company in the future. It’s the silent commentary going on in their heads.
Most customer service engagements — whether they happen by phone calls, e-mail messages or social media — begin and end the same way. From “How may I help you?” to “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”, however, there can be a running interior monologue that only the best customer service representative will sense. And while they may keep mum about it until their issue has been resolved, customers will have no problem sharing their experiences with colleagues or friends, who then form a negative perception of that brand.
A lot of what customers might be saying to themselves relates to information. It could be information they feel the rep should already have, information they feel the company should give, or information that is just plain wrong. It all ties back to the need for customer service tools that empower agents to succeed. To whatever it takes to make sure they’re not thinking the following thoughts:
In part based on the volume of calls, or the relatively common troubleshooting tips, most B2C contact centers have long developed scripts that will guide reps and customers through service issues in as timely a manner as possible.
In B2B, on the other hand, the nature the products and services -- and how they’re purchased -- can be a lot different from one customer to the next. That’s why you’ll want to give agents more data via tools such as Salesforce Service cloud to address the more customized responses they may need to solve customer’s challenges. The right customer service applications will also provide options to move beyond tiered service, where issues are escalated one from a newbie rep to a more experienced one. Instead, you might be able to explore more collaborative approaches to service requests or even assign dedicated reps for top clients.
Sales reps often spend a long time getting to know a particular account and developing a true relationship with the people who are a part of it. Then, in some cases, those same people end up looking for help with what they’ve bought and are treated like total strangers.
Perform the following audit as you’re looking back through recent customer service engagements:
How many times did the request need to move to a different rep?
How often did the customer have to give information they’d already given?
How many times did gathering some of those details seem like a “stalling tactic” or needless wait for the customer, if you were looking at it from his or her point of view?
Being able to call up the right data immediately not only makes agents more efficient, it offers the same level of consistency and humanity that customers should have already experienced at the time a deal closed.
Customers often make every effort to do their own detective work. Before they contact a company for service or support they may be eager to figure things out on their own, whether it’s turning something on and off, re-installing something or doing other common sense tactics. When they reach out, no matter what channel they use, they’re looking for expert opinions and answers. If they get predictable talking points instead, they’ll be rolling their eyes, whether you can see it or not.
The best customer support tools should be able to let agents double-check whether a customer has gone through similar issue before, and even what level of experience they might have with a particular set of products and services. The data should guide reps in establishing what kind of expectations the customer will have when they reach out, and what they already know. That way your rep doesn’t end up looking like a master of the obvious.
Reps are often being asked to reduce or minimize their call resolution time, but that’s not the customer’s problem. They usually want to get back to their own lives as quickly as possible, too. Until they need to engage with the sales team again, though, the customer support operation will serve as their primary point of contact, which means you need to keep moving the relationship forward.
That’s why agents should use the data from customer service tools to not only to get people the right answers, but to do so in a way that demonstrates sympathy, empathy and even collegiality. Even basic background information such as location can spark a brief comment on the weather or a sports playoff that may be underway. These interactions don’t have to take long, but they can go a long way to humanizing a brand.
People may call in to a contact center and, while they’re on hold, be told that they could also use the web site to deal with customer support. Or they might reach out on social media and be pointed to another channel where they could explore a self-service option.
Self-service is great when it’s what the customer wants, and of course they need to be aware of it. On the other hand, depending on the nature of the service or support issue, pushing someone towards self-service may be a turn-off. Customers might feel they’re being shunted away from the “live” experience they want, where they might not even be sure of all the questions they have until they start asking.
Again, this is where good data and the right tools will differentiate a customer service experience. If it’s a loyal customer who has already dealt with similar issues in the past, self-service options can be presented as “short cuts” to calling in. It’s a matter of using what you know to ensure the customer feels empowered by self-service, rather than feeling like they’re being forced to learn something new.
The best part of following these customer service tips is that, when they work, there’s no need to worry about the inner dialogue in the customer’s head. What they say out loud will be exactly what they mean — and it will probably be the kind of positive feedback any company wants to hear.
Learn more Salesforce’s customer service solution, Service Cloud, the #1 intelligent customer service platform that empowers companies of all sizes to deliver great service everywhere.