Trying to find customer service advice online is like trying to take a small sip of water while standing under a waterfall.
There are some very thirst-quenching tips out there. The challenge is finding the most actionable and effective ones—without drowning in the process.
In this article, we present a short selection of carefully chosen tips from the Web, each addressing a different facet of customer service. These tips can help you improve customer experiences as well as your company’s efficiency and bottom line.
Tip #1: Keep It Simple
Simplicity nearly always improves customer service interactions, for customers and agents alike. Indeed, customer service enthusiast and public speaker Steve Curtin says simplicity is key to business success in 2016. And studies repeatedly show that customers prioritize simplicity and time-savings over nearly everything else.
Follow these links to learn how simplicity can improve a customer’s use of:
What’s more, simplicity helps customer service agents do their jobs more effectively. As we’ve been reporting for many years, unnecessary complexity and poor usability are top reasons companies abandon their existing service software and look for something simpler.
When a customer service platform’s UI is poorly arranged or overloaded with options, it becomes more difficult to use. Agents spend too much time searching for the right fields and buttons, making even basic tasks time-consuming. Good UIs—those that are designed with the end-user’s actual workflow in mind—have the necessary fields and buttons intelligently arranged, without going overboard.
for any given task
for any single interaction
Tip #2: Show You Know the Customer
Lisa Ford, a longtime customer service thought leader and public speaker, brings us this tip. As she discusses on her blog:
“Show you know the customer. Prove it with your offerings, conversation, account login page and emails. You must go beyond knowing their account number.”
OK … but what if a customer service agent has little more than an account number in front of them? How can the agent prove they know about a customer’s past purchases—or past problems—if that information isn’t available?
They can’t, and that’s one reason a company’s customer service software selection is so important. The best software gives agents all the information they need, without breaking Tip #1 above.
Sometimes companies find the best way to personalize service is by using an add-on application. Apps such as Sproutsocial and Sendible selectively integrate comments and discussions on social media into a company’s CRM or customer service system.
Tip #3: Develop an ‘Experience Mentality’
We’ve talked a lot about the challenge of treating customers like people and having real, natural conversations with them—without sacrificing consistency or efficiency. It’s a balancing act with no simple solution.
Dennis Snow—customer service guru and experience improver—offers a fresh perspective on managing this balancing act. He suggests that companies train service agents to have an “experience mentality,” as opposed to the predominant “task mentality”:
“Those employees who focus on creating great experiences make customers feel welcome and valued. Those who focus merely on completing tasks make customers feel processed and tolerated.”
The difference, he continues, is that agents who are focused on experience are fully present when interacting with a customer. They deliver more personalized service, because they’re paying attention to body language, tone of voice, word choice, facial expressions—whatever is available to them based on the mode of communication.
Most importantly, they make customers feel welcome, and that makes them more likely to keep coming back.
Agents who fail to interact on a human level miss a crucial opportunity to capture customer loyalty. The root cause of this “task mentality” can often be traced directly to the screen in front of the agent.
Poorly chosen or outdated customer service platforms bombard agents with too much information, so they’re never free to focus on the experience. All they see in front of them is a series of tasks that must be completed.
A well-chosen customer service platform will meshes with a company’s service style and workflow, and only present agents with the data they really need. This frees them up to focus on what really matters: the customer experience.
Simplicity, personalization and presence are qualities that improve any organization’s approach to customer service. If you’re just getting your feet wet, these tips will help you get started while keeping your head above water.
Follow this link to check out detailed comparisons and reviews of popular customer service platforms.