Customer support is not just about being gracious to your customers. It impacts how customers and prospects view your company as well as your bottom line.
Good customer support can help you:
- Increase customer loyalty
- Generate more sales from each customer
- Create positive word-of-mouth and good reputation
- Decrease barriers to purchase
Even though companies know the importance of good customer support, many continue to struggle with it. They find themselves in the limelight because of poor customer support.
In the age of social media, even a small problem can become big. Customers can blow it up on social media. Bad publicity can drive away potential customers and create dissatisfaction amongst existing customers.
Research shows that customers with bad experiences can cause significant damage. They are more likely to share it on social media, dissuade others from buying, and reduce their own spending with the company.
However, providing good customer support to win loyalty and business is not difficult.
At its core, good customer support is about making sure your customers feel they are valued, treated fairly, and appreciated by your business. Of course, you need to solve their problems. But if you treat your customers well and listen to them, they will give you a longer rope when they have a problem. You will be able to turn around even those with a bad experience if you treat them well and make amends for earlier mistakes.
Develop a Clear Vision and Policies for Customer Support
The first step is to establish a clear reason for your support team. Customer support is not just about answering customer questions. It includes every interaction your customers have with your company. If your support agents are clear about their role, they are more likely to create positive experiences for customers.
Implement customer support policies that address all aspects of customer experience and enable your agents to deal with them.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to anticipate problems and design solutions to delight your customers. Involve your team in the process, especially the front-line agents. They interact with customers, understand their pain, and may have solutions to those pains. You will get fresh ideas and get buy-in from your support team for your vision and policies.
Hire Right Support Agents and Team Leaders
Even the best laid customer support plans can go wrong in the hands of wrong agents and leaders. Hiring right candidates for your support team is critical to building a winning support team.
At the time of the interview, ask them what customer service means to them and how they would respond to the customer. This gives you an idea of whether the people you hire for your front lines will represent your business correctly or not.
Give the candidate actual customer problems to solve and observe how they respond. Do role plays during interviews where you act as a customer. Observe how the person responds to it. Sometimes, visual response reveals more about the person that the words he says. If the person looks irritated or hassled, don’t hire.
Both technical expertise and attitude are important for an agent. But right attitude trumps technical skills when hiring for support roles. You can always teach technical skills to an agent, but it’s very difficult to change attitude.
Support agents have access to sensitive customer data. It’s important to do background checks on them before hiring.
Provide the best customer service training:
Train your employees well on all aspects of your product, service, and policies. Teach them how to treat customers well. Train your agents to be sensitive to cultural and ethnic issues.
Your business has customers from different ethnicities, countries and religions. Being sensitive to this diverse customer base will help agents serve all customers with the same empathy.
Provide continuous training, feedback and support
Your products, services and policies are going to change over time. The way you sell and service your product may also change with your industry. Regulatory issues may force changes in policies. Ongoing training will keep your support team on top of these changes.
You need to monitor the performance of your agents and provide them continuous feedback for improvement. While surveys like customer satisfaction and net promoter score give you an overall picture of the team, individual feedback and mentoring are equally critical.
Your quality team and leaders should monitor individual agents every day. They can listen to call recordings and review transcripts of email and chat. If they find any issues, they can provide feedback to the agent. You should put agents on a performance improvement plan when needed. In some cases, you may have to fire the agent.
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