Customer support is a necessity for every business. And while most businesses know this, they don’t make the most of its potential. In order to maximize the benefits you see from your customer support efforts, you need to go beyond simply offering answers and resolutions. Instead, take the time to have impactful conversations with your customers. This will not only boost customer satisfaction levels, but can help you gain valuable insight on the customer experience.
You’ll learn where you have room for improvement, where your customers’ frustrations lie, and what you could be doing to make their experience with your brand even better. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of five tips you can use to have more impactful conversations with your customers.
1. Build a Top-notch Support Team
The first step in having impactful conversations with your customers is hiring a dedicated support staff. While many companies (particularly those with small teams) delegate support tasks to employees in other roles, this is not an ideal setup.
When it comes down to it, customer service is far too important of a task to be handled by employees that aren’t trained for customer-facing roles. So even though hiring support staff can be a more expensive option, it’s ultimately the best way to deliver quality service.
Once you’ve hired your team, it’s essential to invest in training each employee on engaging with customers. Although some businesses only offer a few hours of training for support staff, this is a mistake.
Your support agents will often serve as the face of your brand to customers, and it’s essential that every interaction is an accurate reflection of the brand you want to be.
Establish standards for key metrics like first response time and average resolution time, so that each agent has a set of goals and benchmarks to work towards. Then, create a clear set of guidelines your agents can use to respond appropriately to common inquiries, and to maintain consistency across your team.
And as your agents become more comfortable handling customer inquiries, it’s in your best interest to offer ongoing training on a quarterly or annual basis. This way, your team will continue to improve their ability to serve your customers, and to provide the level of top-notch support you want to be associated with your brand.
2. Personalize Each Interaction
Each of your customers has their own unique set of needs and goals. As a result, your team can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing their questions and concerns. Instead, they need to offer a personalized experience for each customer.
Fortunately, most businesses are already somewhat aware of the importance of personalization. But today, that means doing much more than using a customer’s first name (though that’s a solid starting point).
Beyond learning and using a customer’s name, your support agents should go into each interaction with the goal of getting to know that person and their needs. This way, they can provide the kind of resolutions that make it clear to your customers they aren’t being treated as mere numbers.
And depending on the support platform you use, this doesn’t need to be as time-consuming of a process as it might sound. Many support tools today enable teams to save details about an individual customer’s history with a company, including past purchases and support interactions. Context-driven collaborations can greatly enhance agent context awareness on the current as well as previous customer tickets, and drive impactful customer conversations. This way, when a customer reaches out to your team, the agent who is assigned to their ticket will be able to get a big-picture overview of that customer’s previous experience with your brand.
Instead of spending time on basic questions, they can jump right into finding a resolution that’s appropriate for that customer — making the process not only more personal, but also much more efficient.
3. Aim to Fully Understand Customer Issues
Anyone who’s spent time in a customer-facing role will tell you that over half of the inquiries they recieve on a daily basis stem from the same handful of questions and issues.
And while it’s a good idea to create resources with standard resolutions for these inquiries, it’s never a good idea to assume that you know the appropriate resolution to a customer’s issue before giving them a chance to explain.
Many support agents make the mistake of jumping to cookie-cutter responses as quickly as possible for each ticket. After all, the faster they resolve an inquiry, the sooner they can move on to the next.
But while efficiency is an important goal, empathy is even more important when it comes to learning from your customers. Encourage your agents to spend more time listening to your customers than speaking, and to fully understand each issue before responding.
Taking the time to learn about a customer’s seemingly simple problem can often help your team identify underlying issues. Then, you can use that insight to make the kinds of changes that have a positive impact on the customer experience as a whole.
4. Offer the Support Channels Your Customers Want
Not everyone prefers to communicate in the same way. Some of your customers might prefer to speak with agents over the phone, while others would rather communicate via email or live chat.
And your support strategy needs to take these preferences into account. Offering channels your customers are comfortable using increases the chances that they’ll contact you when they need help, instead of becoming frustrated and turning to a competitor. And beyond that, it makes it all the more likely that they’ll be willing to spend time having impactful conversations with your team.
After all, if a customer has no choice to call your team on the phone, even though they dislike phone conversations, they’ll do everything they can to make that interaction as brief as possible. They’ll express their issue, ask for a solution, and hang up as soon as they get it.
But let’s say that same customer is able to speak with an agent via live chat. If they’re more comfortable with this channel, they’ll be more likely to share a more in-depth account of their issue, and to speak with an agent about their experience with your company.
This can lead to more meaningful conversations, and the kind of insight that ultimately gives support staff the potential to be some of the most valuable employees at your company. And considering that managing multiple support channels is now easier than ever before, there’s really no reason not to add the ones your audience wants.
5. Encourage Feedback
Having impactful conversations requires your agents to actively encourage your customers to give feedback and input.
Of course, if you’re like most companies, you already send the occasional customer survey. And while these are an excellent way to learn about your audience, they’re often not nuanced enough to give you real insight on the customer experience. But your support team has the unique opportunity to not only ask for feedback, but discuss that feedback with individual members of your customer base — and they should make the most of that opportunity.
Even if a customer reaches out with a simple question, it’s important not to rush through the conversation. Take the time to listen and understand, and respond accordingly. Then, take the conversation a step further by asking the customer if there’s anything else they’re struggling with, or anything you could do to improve their experience with your company.
Ask customers about their overall feelings towards your brand, and whether they have concerns or suggestions beyond the original reason they reached out.
When your team consistently looks for ways to improve, you show your customers that you care about their experiences. Plus, when you act on those suggestions, you can help all of your customers get more value out of their investment with your company.
Your customer support team can do much more than answer questions and resolve issues. With the right approach, they can gain the kind of insight you need to make impactful improvements to your business as a whole.
And getting that kind of insight is easier than you might think.
The first step is hiring a top-notch support team. View your team as an investment in your brand, and take the time to train them on providing the level of service your customers deserve.
Then, encourage your customer service agents to personalize each of their interactions with your customers, and to offer customized solutions to each of their inquiries. And as you develop your approach to support, make sure that your team approaches your customers with the goal of fully understanding their issues before providing responses.
It’s also essential to make sure that you’re offering the support channels your customers want, so that they’ll be comfortable having meaningful conversations. Finally, collect feedback regularly and use that feedback to make positive changes to your support strategy and to your company as a whole.
With these steps, you can create an approach to customer support that not only provides your customers with the information they need, but gives your company the insight you need to continuously improve.