Every company wants to be customer-forward nowadays, probably because people know that, ultimately, it’s the customer that keeps them in business. Without the customer paying for your product, talking about your marketing and support, or referring their friends to you, you might not be able to afford to keep the lights on. It sounds rough, but it’s true! Given what an important role the customer plays in the grand scheme of your company, it’s no wonder you’d want to put them first.
With the rise of customer-forward company cultures, customer experience has also come to the forefront of everyone’s minds. As customers get used to better and better treatment, companies are having to level up their support and success games to deliver something beyond expectation. But, much like prom invitations, customer experience doesn’t need to be over the top to be stellar. Here are four tips to offer an excellent customer experience for your customers without needing to send them puppies and balloons every time they log in.
Speak kindly both when talking to them, and about them.
How many times have you had a rough interaction with a customer and then, once the interaction was finished, or maybe even in the middle of it, gone right into your chat system and said “This customer is such an idiot.” to one of your coworkers? Probably a few times—I know I have. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something that you should try your hardest to cut out of your at-work behavior.
The way that you talk about things says a lot about how you perceive them. For example, when you talk about constructive feedback as “negative feedback”, even if you don’t actually mean that it’s negative, just using that word can start to inform how you feel about it, and can influence the way you approach it.
When talking with your customers, you always try to remain positive, and the same should be true within your chats with your colleagues. While venting and letting off steam can be very important, try to recognize when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.
As a team lead or manager: lay down some lines with your employees about what kind of language is “okay” to use about and around customers. Let them know where it’s okay to vent, like in private conversations, and where it isn’t, like in public channels where the whole company can see. Speaking kindly about your customers both when talking to them, and talking with colleagues, will help to instill a sense of positive focus within your company, even in moments of frustration or strife.
Talk to them like you would a family member or friend
Whenever a new customer reaches out to you, imagine that it is one of your closest family members or friends. You’d be polite, maybe a little bit personal, and probably try to be as helpful as possible, wouldn’t you? That’s how you could be with every customer.
Start the interaction by thanking them for reaching out, whether they’re reaching out in anger or just with a question. Finish the interaction by thanking them, and letting them know you’re there for them, if they have more questions or need any additional support.
Something about talking to friends and family that normally escapes the attention of people is that, as humans, we match our tone to the people we are talking to. For example, you might use different language when talking to your grandmother than you would when talking to your best friend. Notice the tone of the customer reaching out: do they use a ton of exclamation points and emojis? Or are they more business-like? Do your best to match what they are working with—if they seem super angry, for example, don’t send a bunch of gifs from comedy movies throughout your response.
Be responsive, maybe even before they know they have a problem.
Don’t make your customers wait for answers. If you’ve set an expected timeline on your website or in the autoresponder that you send in your email to customers when they reach out, stick to it. Don’t make them wait longer, and don’t make them wonder what’s happened or if their ticket has gone missing. If they have to do that, you’ve already lost their trust.
Similarly, if you have multiple teams, such as engineering and sales, for example, working in your inbox with your support or success teams, create a successful handoff experience by setting expectations before you let the conversation go out of your hands. Let the customer know that you will no longer be taking care of their ticket (or that you will, but that you’re talking to another team member first) so that they aren’t sitting and wondering when you’re going to get back to them.
Lastly, for a truly fantastic customer experience, try to address customers’ problems before they have them. This is known as proactive support and can be one of the best ways to create customer loyalty. To start, create an analysis of what your customers ask about most, and when they reach out about it. From there, do some experimentation: see whether your customers like documentation, or videos, or even email series. Then, create a training series in a venue that works for them around some of their most asked questions. This serves two-fold benefit: you get to reduce the number of conversations that you have come through your inbox with your customers, and you provide an amazing experience that feels custom-tailored to every single person.
Ask questions, and listen carefully
Your help desk software likely has a survey system in place that allows you to ask your customers how they felt about your team’s interaction with them. Ask your customers lots of questions, not just using your automatic survey, but when you are talking directly to them during interactions. Some great times to ask questions and listen to what your customers are saying are:
- A negative review for your customer support interaction
- A high effort score for your customer support interaction
- A feature request for a feature you don’t currently offer
- A customer who did not understand your documentation
For each of these instances, instead of just taking what the customer has to say at face value, ask for additional detail. Try to understand why they didn’t understand, or why they want that feature, rather than just hearing that they want it and documenting it. By going the extra step and documenting it, you’ll make the customer feel good, and like you heard what they had to say. Not only that, but you’ll have additional insights to make your product and support offering better for the future, meaning that you’ll have increased loyalty from these customers and any new customers that come.
It doesn’t have to be that hard
It doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth to give an excellent customer experience. Following the four steps above in each and every customer interaction will greatly improve your customer experience both passively and actively. Your customers will be grateful for an improved interaction in their day-to-day conversations with you, but also in your added improvements to the product.