No matter how great your customer support team is, something will inevitably go wrong. It’s just a fact of business. When it does, your customers need to be able to reach you instantly.
Bad customer support can turn the most loyal of customers away. Groove HQ reports customers are likely to share their negative experiences with 16 people. Compare that to positive experiences, which are only shared with 9 people. Slipping up on customer support will cost you big time. So, how do you make sure you always give excellent customer support?
Offer Clear Support Options
When something goes wrong, your customers want to know who can solve their problem. This is why it’s vital to put your support details on your website, on all your packaging, and in your app.
If your customer can quickly and easily find a way to get in touch, it’s going to make their life that much easier.
In-house, it’s recommended to have “cheat sheets” or other details so that every support staff member (especially if everyone does support) has access to the right information.
If you outsource your support, however, it pays to outsource to professionals in your field of expertise. They are better at handling technical requests without having to escalate. Just make sure that you onboard whoever you hire thoroughly. Technical knowledge only goes so far without product-specific knowledge.
But what options should you include? The most common customer support options are:
- Live Chat
Email is popular because it is quick and easy to set up and use. It also gives a documented trail of interactions, allowing customers and support staff to see exactly what was said at any point in the email chain. Most everyone knows how to send an email, and email management doesn’t require a dedicated staff member for small businesses and startups. To get started, here is the Salesforce documentation on setting up email support.
Live Chat and Chat Bots
Live chat allows customers to talk to an agent immediately on your website. Instant live chat is hugely popular with small businesses and is used by many major retailers and tech companies like Amazon to provide instant support.
However, chatbots are increasingly used to streamline the process. These bots are often used to decide what information the customer needs before either fulfilling the request or sending it on to someone who can. Popular as a way to automate the support process, chatbots allow most questions and queries to be answered without human intervention.
This might sound great, but many customers aren’t willing to give bots a second chance; Venture Beat reports that “If the chatbot experience ends up being negative in the customer’s eyes, nearly three-quarters (73%) won’t use that chatbot again.”
Often, live chat and chatbots are used in conjunction with live chat or a text message service. These services refer back to a pre-written FAQ document that explains the most common problems, potential issues, and solutions.
The good old phone call is by far the most popular support choice for many customers; 68% of people still prefer customer service phone calls. If the call is answered quickly, it can be the fastest of the support options. The customer can describe the problem on the phone and any further questions can be asked immediately.
The problem with phone support is often the cost. It’s expensive to hire an in-house support team to man the phones, especially if you want to provide a 24/7 service.
Another issue is with voicemail and hold: customers hate both options. The biggest reason for this is that customers spend, on average, 9.5 more minutes trying to reach a human operator in an automated system. One way around this is by hiring either an answering service or virtual receptionist service. These companies answer the phone for you and log the call details in your CRM software. If you find a service that is available 24/7, you don’t need to worry about support hours. They’re mostly cheaper than in-house teams, too, and can benefit all kinds of businesses, from lawyers and medical professionals to landscaping services.
Most of the time, a customer needing support is after answers. The best way to reduce support time is by giving them as much information as possible before they enter the customer support system.
Easily accessible FAQs are one way to do this.
It’s not enough, however, to just create an FAQ page and be done with it. This page should not simply be a dumping ground of information that does not fit elsewhere. It should be clearly organized and actually answer real customer questions. Don’t just write down what you think should be there; make sure your FAQ reflects the real questions you get frequently.
Another way is to prevent customer issues is to create a pre-support questionnaire. However, be aware that many customers will be irritated by these questionnaires, especially if they feel like they’re being delayed from speaking to a customer support agent. Get ahead of this by making sure the questions are short, to the point, and feel like they will actually make a difference in the customer service process.
Overall, Know Your Customer
The good news is that you have plenty of options for customer support. By utilizing each different type for unique situations, you will make sure your customers have the best options available at all times.
After all, every customer is different. By acknowledging this fact, you will get a much better response from your client base. Track their details in your CRM, including their contact details, previous support tickets, and products bought. Make sure to personalize when reaching out, because in the words of Shep Hyken, customers who experience personalization “are typically willing to spend more when they receive such custom-tailored service.”
Tracking customer responses also allows you to re-edit your support information whenever any new trends appear. If you’re constantly asked the same questions, it may be worth editing your website or app to avoid confusion.
Implement Excellent Customer Support
You cannot avoid customer support. No matter how simple and easy to use your product or service is, someone will, at some point, have a question or a problem. Dealing with that problem quickly, accurately and efficiently is the best way to leave your customer with a good feeling.
The method you use really depends on a variety of factors. Whichever route you do take, make sure that all your support options are up-to-date and speak to each other. Tracking them in one CRM is essential, so you can see exactly how your customer needs and uses support.
Personalize your service and it will make your business stand out.