The customer-for-life software suite
By Use Case
Customer care is the process of providing support and resources for your customer that make them more successful and happier with your company.
It is one of the most important aspects of getting your customers buy-in for your brand. Without your team providing excellent customer care and focus from the very start of a customer’s buying journey, it’s very possible that the customer will leave, or feel unfulfilled by your company and your support team. This can be anything from offering a phone call when a customer submits payment, to creating excellent self-service documentation that allows the customer to help themselves.
Another way of thinking about customer care is the principle of hospitality. In the service industry, hospitality involves everything from how you welcome your customer, how they feel throughout their visit, and all the little touches that make an experience special. They anticipate the needs of their customers and delight them at every step. Luxury brands roll out the red carpet for their customers with exceptional hospitality, and this allows them to charge a premium for their services.
Customer care does not have to be a direct interaction with your customer, but instead a sentiment that is ingrained within your culture. All company members, whether they be engineers, marketing or support people, should be moving forward with the intent to treat the customer with the utmost care.
Every single company has multiple competitors. The number of competitors will continue to grow as the original gains in popularity, and new technology, making things easier to create, floods the market. Because the features being offered are so similar, there needs to be some kind of differentiator, or unique offering, to attract and keep customers with a company. That differentiator is customer care.
If a customer starts using a company but discovers that their customer care is slow or lacking, they will move to another company that has a better customer focus.
These are a few things that indicate a company that offers excellent customer care:
A quick time to respond.
Carefully crafted and intentionally written emails.
A self-service portal that is easy to use and intuitive.
An easy way to find out how to reach out to the company.
Contact forms that make sense and work as expected.
Great customer care makes your customers feel like you value their business. By treating customers conscientiously, you build a stronger relationship with them. You will also create customer advocates and reduce the chance of customers leaving you for another competitor.
While it could be easier to provide mediocre support, or not spend so much time or money on customer care, going above and beyond in this sector of your business is something that you can’t ignore. Providing excellent customer care differentiates you from your competitors and makes a happy customer, but it also impacts the following:
Brand Image - Customers have a lasting impression that stays with them when you offer excellent customer care (or when you don’t).
Customer Loyalty - Loyal customers are much more inclined and likely to spend time and money on your brand. They’re also much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
Churn & Retention - Customers that are cared for are less likely to cancel or leave.
Win Against Competition - Similar to customer loyalty, you’re more likely to win out against your competition if you offer stellar customer care to the prospects looking at your company.
Ticket Volume - By paying attention to customer care, you’ll proactively remove issues in your customer’s way and reduce the need for them to contact support.
Building a customer support team that is known for great customer care is easier than you think. And that’s because customers have already shared what they think is important to them. Listening to what customers define as good customer care gives a good foundation to start from. There are ten key things that you can ensure your company has in order to offer amazing customer care to your customers. These pillars of excellent customer care are:
Everyone hates waiting for an answer. Customers are no different. There is almost nothing that will make a customer happier than if you respond very quickly to a message that they’ve sent you, whether it be the first, or seventh. When you respond quickly, it makes the customer feel like you care, and that you are paying attention to what they have to say. You are making the customer a priority and that’s important to them.
There are a number of ways to track response time as a metric:
Average response time looks at how long it takes you to respond to any request on average,
Time to first response shows how long your customers have to wait for the very first reply on average,
Response time bands give you a percentage of tickets that are replied to within certain time frames, and are often used in SLAs.
Measuring performance based on response time can be tricky, however, because some agents may see it as a quick win, and will close out tickets or respond to them before they have a full response. Pay attention to and coach employees against this, as this behavior does not bump up your metrics for customer care, but in fact, serves to detract from customer happiness.
People do not want to have to reach out to your customer support team and have a conversation about their problem. They do not have to wait for a response after sending an email, either. The best thing you can do to boost customer care for your customers is set up an excellent self-service portal that gives them access to anything they could ever need to solve their own problems.
Not only does a self-service portal help your customers, but it also lowers the number of tickets that come into your inbox. Thus, it impacts contact ratio, CSAT, and your customer care team’s bandwidth to offer even better responses as part of your customer care offering.
Don’t make it difficult for customers to find the best way to contact you for their needs.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find out how to get help and not being able to. To uphold excellent customer care, don’t make it difficult for your customers to contact you. Provide them simple, easy ways to ask their questions without having to jump through hoops.
Make contact forms easy and quick to fill out.
Don’t hide methods of contact behind a paywall or on a difficult-to-find page.
Make expectations around support tiering clear and easy from the instant the customer signs up.
Keep your telephone navigation system straightforward and simple.
Providing excellent customer care also means providing excellent communication including setting clear expectations for your customer. If they reach out about an issue within your product or service, rather than keeping it hidden and responding with a vague reply, let them know exactly what action you will be taking. Your response to an issue report, when implementing excellent customer care, should include the following:
A thank you for emailing in and letting your team know about the issue
Expectations around when the issue will be fixed
Where they can track the issue to see if it is being worked on
Potential workarounds for the issue
First contact resolution is when you are able to resolve your customers’ issues on your first reply to them, without any additional follow-up or responses. This can be extremely difficult because it takes additional time and effort to develop the perfect solution, but it’s also a sign of excellent customer care. You need to preemptively think about anything that the customers' question could lead to, and also include that in your message to them. But, when your customer care agents are able to anticipate future needs successfully, it feels like magic to the customer.
Having at least multi-channel, if not omnichannel support is one of the best ways to show customer care. Customers want to be able to reach out where they currently are—if that’s on a phone, computer, or somewhere else, it shouldn’t matter. Offering just email or just phone support is limiting and could create tension for a customer looking to reach out to you somewhere else.
Do you want to lose out on a potential customer? You could lose the opportunity to wow someone on the cusp of signing up for your product because you didn’t equip your team with the tools needed to have phone calls. A helpdesk tool with omnichannel or multi-channel support can create an impactful and impressive first support experience.
Your whole company has to be bought into the idea of customer care if you want to do it well. Collaborating across teams is imperative for creating an excellent customer experience through customer care. No matter who your customer talks to at your company - from accounting, to engineer, to the CEO - they should encounter the same quality of service. As you move forward with creating a culture of customer care and implementing tools to help get you there, make sure you maintain whole company buy-in, or slowly all the customers you’ve worked so hard for will start to churn away.
The customer care team fields many of your customers' inquiries and requests. Because of that, it’s important that they have insight into the product process in order to be transparent when responding to an inquiry. Keep the process of creating issue requests and tracking changes within your company clear and straightforward. Adding additional complexity without communicating it to your team can be devastating, both for your customers and for the customer care team tasked with helping them.
If you answer in an incredibly jovial tone over chat, but then respond like a business robot via email, it will confuse your customers. Try to maintain the same tone of voice and style across all of your channels to keep things consistent for your customers. That way, when they go to write you an email they’ll always know what to expect. This builds trust in the relationship because your customers know who you are. Here are a few specific things to pay attention to:
Emoji and gif usage- If you use it in one contact channel, you should use them in all.
Contractions- Do you leave it as “that is” or turn it into “that’s”?
Greeting- Does your team say “Dear Sir” or “Hey there”? Determine your colloquialism and keep it the same across the board.
Formality- Do you use slang and casual phrasing (ie. “Wow, really sorry about that mix-up”), or do you keep it more professional (ie. We sincerely apologize for this issue)?
No option is necessarily better than another - it’s just about what is right for your company’s brand and voice. While there are many things to be focusing on when writing an email, a chat, or talking on the phone, keeping these things in mind will help create a baseline of consistency to move forward from. Canned responses can also help keep consistency in responses across big teams, especially to frequently asked questions.
In the business world, things move incredibly quickly. Because of that, it can be difficult for support team members to stay in the know about all of the little (or big) things that take place within the product. Having a good knowledge base, both internal and external, can help with this— it disperses the knowledge amongst the team with minimal active training. Plus, it keeps information easily accessible if they want to check on something they might have forgotten.
Making sure everyone has the same knowledge and offers the same insights to your clients allows your team to appear as unified and professional, and cultivates a culture of trust between your customers and the company.
Implementing a culture of caring about your customer within a company, especially if it hasn’t been there from the start, can be difficult. The ideals of customer care come less easily to some teams that aren’t customer-facing, like recruiting or engineering, and very easily to teams like customer success, sales and, of course, customer support and customer service. Taking the seemingly innate ability that customer-facing teams have for customer care and translating it to those that don’t normally can seem close to impossible. But like all skills, customer care can be trained for.
All hands support is something that has become popular over the past few years, which can help integrate the wider team in caring for the customer. Involving every team in providing customer care at the very beginning instills its importance from the start. There are also many resources online that offer training in customer care that you could use as the framework of your training.
Customer care shouldn’t stop at your support team. If you want it to become ingrained in your culture and part of what your company is known for, you’ll need to go a little bit deeper. Here are some tips to keep your customer care strong across your whole company:
Have regular All Hands Customer Care days or time periods where everyone gets in the inbox and helps your customers.
Regularly give your customer care team time off to renew their training and certifications or go to conferences.
Create a helpful and interactive social media presence that engages with customers in a friendly way.
Align teams around common goals that keep the customer front and center to drive the right behaviors.
Hire employees that are empathetic and have a demonstrated history of customer care, even when dealing with difficult situations.
Ask for constructive insights internally and externally, and take them seriously when they’re offered.
Maintain a culture where you say thank you to each other and your customers.
Regularly review your customer care metrics and see where you can do better.
Make peer review a part of your day-to-day activities—even across teams.
It’s all well and good to create awesome customer care—but how do you know how well you’re doing if you don’t have anything to measure it by? There are a few excellent metrics that you can use to determine whether your customer care is top tier or not:
Customer Satisfaction Score is an excellent way to know whether you are offering great customer care or substandard servicing to your customers.
Customers value a swift and timely response. Getting back to them quickly and with the correct answer can make a huge impact on how much their perceive themselves as valued by you.
When you resolve your customers’ issues in the first go, and they don’t have to email you back to ask for more information, it’s like answering their prayers. Follow your first contact resolution and see if it goes up or down to get a first indicator of what’s happening with your customer care.
People leave when they are unhappy. People are unhappy because they aren’t well taken care of. If you’re offering excellent customer care, your churn rates may drop as happiness is correlated with remaining a customer.
NPS and CSAT are great at face value, but don’t tell you the deeper story of how your customer is feeling. Customer sentiment aggregates everything a customer is saying or talking about and gives you more insight into what that looks like. Use customer sentiment to see if people are talking about how good your customer care is, or if they are frustrated with how they are being treated.
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Offering excellent customer care gives your company more recurring revenue from your customers because they feel valued and important. It also provides your customer care team with the unique opportunity to spread the word internally about taking care of customers.
Customer care can be a full-company affair, and it doesn’t just need to be the customer care team that reaps the benefits. Your teams working on the backend gain valuable insight, your marketing teams trying to learn more about the customer get a first-hand experience with what they really care about and, of course, your executive and management teams learn more about which way to steer the company in the future. Bring in your success, marketing, sales, and product teams and get everyone on board with customer care!
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