The Art of Following Up with Customers and Delighting Them
Whether it’s answering a ticket, responding to live chats, picking up the phone, writing a knowledge base article, or telling customers about a new feature… communicating is what support teams do. We live and breath communication, and the stronger we communicate, the better we do our job.
A big part of communication in customer support is knowing when and how to follow-up with customers. Nailing the follow-up is critical, and these moments can often make or break the experience a customer has with your support team. A well-executed follow-up has the potential to delight customers and keeps them coming back for more, time and time again.
The Anatomy of a Good Follow-up
A good follow-up can be tough. You might not have an answer yet, or you might be delivering information the customer doesn’t want to hear. Whatever the case, follow-ups should be thorough, thoughtful, and timely in order to maintain a good relationship with the customer. A good follow-up also seeks to be contextual (aware of previously communication) and to get any information needed to move forward.
What Happens When You Fail to Follow-up
Follow-ups are an opportunity to delight the customer. Failure to follow-up leaves the customer in the dark, feeling abandoned and less than impressed with your service. Following up, but doing so poorly also creates a negative experience with your brand. Poor follow-ups are missed opportunities to delight, build trust, and grow fruitful relationships with your customers.
Let’s take a look at various scenarios when a follow-up comes into play with customer support teams.
Delight Customers With These Six Different Types of Support Follow-ups
Following Up with Customers After they Submit a Ticket
Depending on your average response time, it might make sense to send an automated reply message to customers after they submit a request. If you have a short response time, this might not be necessary. But if your response time is longer, you don’t want to leave your customers hanging, wondering if you’ve even seen their message at all. Instead, follow-up with them and let them know you received their request.
As a rule of thumb, follow-up with your customer within 24 hours. Let them know you’ve received their request and you’ll be in touch soon. A quick and simple automated follow-up will give your customers the reassurance that they’re in good hands, and that their message has landed in the right spot.
Following Up About a New Feature a Customer Asked For
So you’ve been getting multiple requests about a feature your customers really want. Months later, your product team has designed, built, and finally shipped the feature. This is a great opportunity to delight the same customers who previously requested the feature.
In order to do this effectively, you need to have a system in place to keep track of every customer who wrote in requesting the feature. This system might be a specific tag, a feature request forum, or something else to systematically capture these requests.
This type of follow-up shows customers you listen, and you truly care. Next time you release a feature, big or small, try following up with the customers who requested it. Not only will customers be pleased their feedback was heard, but they will also be the first ones in line to try it out. You’ll be surprised at some of the responses you get, and your customers will love that you took this initiative!
Following Up About a Fixed Bug
Customers don’t only contact support about feature requests. They often contact support about bugs and issues within the product. A bug report is a different type of interaction than a feature request, it carries a different tone. Customers reporting bugs might be frustrated, confused, or downright angry.
Bug fixes are big wins in the world of customer support. If we had it our way, we’d have engineers working on bug fixes as soon as they’ve come in. Depending on how critical the bug is, sometimes that’s the case. But more often than not, bugs sit in the backlog for a while (just like feature requests do).
Letting customers know a bug is fixed is another great way to delight them. No matter how big or small the bug is, these types of follow-ups go a long way and help build trust with your customers.
Following Up When a Solution is Taking Longer than Expected
Part of communicating in customer support is setting expectations. Expectation setting could be its own blog post, but I want to mention it here because setting expectations often involve a follow-up.
You might be helping a customer with a certain request that involves extra time or help from a teammate on your end. Complex questions and problems can often take an unknown amount of time. For these types of interactions, you really want to keep in regular communication with the customer. Don’t leave an opportunity for them to reach out and ask about progress – understand their urgency and make sure you really comprehend the problem so you can set the right expectations at the right time.
Proactively reach out to the customer (before they ask for a status update) to let them know you’re still working on the issue and it’s going to take a little more time than expected. It’s ok to reset expectations with the customer if needed. Just don’t mislead them or leave them in the dark. Keep in contact with them and aim to over-communicate rather than not communicate enough.
Setting up internal SLAs and workflows for unresolved tickets can help identify when it’s time to follow-up with a certain customer.
Following Up Throughout an Incident, and Once it is Resolved
Nothing stretches a support team’s communication skills more than a good ole’ incident. You know, those days where everything is on fire, customers are upset, and you’re getting hit with a higher volume of tickets than normal.
Incident communication is tricky. It requires communicating quickly, communicating clearly, and communicating often. That latter part is crucial. Don’t acknowledge an incident only to go radio silent for multiple hours – or days – follow-up regularly so your customers always know what’s going on.
Once you’ve resolved the incident, publish a postmortem or root cause analysis to explain in detail what went wrong, and what you’ve done to avoid it from happening again. In incident response, the postmortem is the ultimate follow-up.
Following Up From a Live Chat
The very nature of live chat means we must follow-up as soon as possible. Why? Because customers expect live chat to be… well… live, instantaneous. Each second matters here. The longer the response to a live chat, the more likely your customers will abandon the live chat altogether, leaving them frustrated and un-helped, and ultimately creating a lack of trust. Will you be there for them next time?
If your team uses live chat, make sure you’re staffed to be able to respond quickly. If your team is small and limited, configure your live chat tool to be “unavailable” or “offline” when a certain threshold of chats come in. Finally, if you told your customer that you’d look into something for them during the chat and get back to them – don’t leave them hanging! Make sure to send them an email with the requested information when you said you would. They might be super grateful during the chat, but if you don’t fulfill your promises, you’ll lose a customer.
Good follow-up practice builds trust which can result in increased retention. Without good follow-ups, you’re only doing part of your job. Following up with customers with the right information, at the right time makes you easy to work with and can ultimately improve your satisfaction scores.