Pretend you’re a customer for a second. You’ve ordered something — shoes, say — and there’s a problem with the product. You email the company, explaining your issue, but you never hear back. How would you feel? Compare that to a scenario in which you get a friendly note back within 30 minutes, explaining how you can return the shoes or get a refund. Feels much better, right?
Timely, helpful communication goes a long way toward customer happiness, and superstar customer support teams do more than that to make sure customers know they’re a priority. In addition to responding to questions and issues right away, as in the example above, they offer well-informed responses that deal with issues. They respond to customers where they are (email, phone, Twitter, etc.). Finally, their process is completely streamlined.
According to Forbes contributor Shep Hyken,“One of the best ways to show a customer you care about his or her problem is resolve it quickly.” Replying immediately makes customers feel respected—and many customers expect it. A 2013 study by Lithium Technologies found that 72 percent of customers who submitted a complaint on Twitter expected to hear back within one hour. Developing a set of guidelines around response times makes it easy for your team to help customers speedily.
The payoffs for getting back to customers fast are usually very positive. For example, when UserVoice reviewed their support requests, they found that 25 percent of their customers were happier when a customer service rep followed up with them within fifteen minutes.
Not only do customers appreciate a prompt response, they also want their issue to be addressed within the first interaction. Nobody wants to get passed around to different team members or departments, so it’s really important that your team collaborates and agrees upon the proper resolution to a question or issue before replying. Be sure each answer is as thoroughly informed and complete as possible.
According to Impact Learning, multiple studies have found that resolving customer service issues in the first interaction is the most important way to satisfy customers.
Forbes contributor Blake Morgan, who writes about customer service trends, predicts that customers will increasingly control where interaction happens and that companies will use multiple methods of communication to accommodate customers. Many customers use social media to get support—a J.D. Power and Associates study found that 67 percent of over 23,000 online customers had used social media to contact a business for support.
Communicating with customers on the channels they prefer to use—whether it’s email, phone, text, or social media—sends the message that you care enough about their experience to use their platform of choice.
It’s important to come across as well-organized and on top of things. After all, your customer support experience is an extension of your brand. Constantly tracking and improving your customer support process is essential. If you can develop a schedule of times when you expect a high volume of contact from customers, you can staff your team appropriately to address customers’ needs.
Tracking response times is also crucial, to ensure customer expectations are met. Levi Koenig, CEO of Cleaning Professionals, realized that by getting back to customers in two minutes or less, the company was able to close deals at double the rate.
Rockstar customer support needs to be prompt, comprehensive, customer-focused, and streamlined. Responding to customers as soon as you can, using the same communication method they prefer, makes them feel valuable and comfortable. Offering them a well-researched, helpful resolution also goes a long way toward making them feel supported.
Lastly, a fine-tuned support process shows customers that your company is professional and cares enough about them to do things the right way. Businesses that master these four elements of customer service reap the rewards via increased sales and better customer retention. Plus, your customers feel great and love you. And what’s better than that?