Whether you’re a long-time customer support pro or a newbie to the profession, you’ve probably been asked to describe your definition of excellent customer service at some point.
The problem with the question—and maybe it’s fueled by how customer support is understood today—is that most people have an easier time describing what excellent customer service is NOT than they do at describing what it is.
You’ll hear a story of when someone was at the checkout counter, purchasing a pack of gum, and had to deal with a rude cashier. That’s definitely not excellent customer service.
You’ll hear about a time someone canceled their subscription service, but the next month it renewed anyway. That’s definitely not great service.
Hidden charges showing up on invoices. Waiting on hold for hours. Never being able to reach the right person or department. Feeling like a number. A rep saying there’s nothing they can do.
We’ve all been there. All of these experiences are definitely not what defines excellent customer service. The fact that these types of experiences are so common is why it’s so much easier to define bad customer service than good.
So what actually is the definition of great customer support? Sure, it’s the opposite of everything we just talked about—but it’s also so much more than that.
Great customer service is what will set your brand apart from the companies responsible for the experiences above. In turn, it will help you build customer loyalty, improve revenue, and secure repeat purchases. What’s more? As a customer support professional, you’ll feel amazing when you make someone’s day bright instead of blue.
Let’s look at what defines excellent customer service so you can put these values at the core of your customer support strategy.
1. Excellent customer support is human.
Chatbots. Automations. Self-service. The voice that pops up when you’re on hold to tell you how far along in the queue you are.
All of these non-human customer support tactics are awesome and should definitely be used as part of your customer support strategy. They help reduce manual work and increase efficiency.
But they also make your customer support less human. And a lack of humanity in your customer support can cause significant negative repercussions like a decrease in customer satisfaction and an increase in customer anxiety (which is never good).
When customer satisfaction goes down, trust in your business as a whole goes right down with it.
Now, you certainly don’t need to eliminate technology and non-human interactions altogether, but you should prioritize the human touch in your customer support strategy.
If your customer support flow starts with a chatbot or self-service, simply providing the option along the way to speak to humans will do enough to quell any growing anxieties or customer concerns. When customers feel they have the option to speak to a human, they’re less likely to become angry, confused, or upset.
With that said, making your customer support more human goes beyond just giving customers the option to talk to a person.
Have you ever talked to a customer service rep and thought…”man they sounded so rehearsed… almost, robotic?” That’s not a good experience for customers, either.
This is where tone and communication style both come into play. In order to make your customer support more human, you need to work on how you actually talk to customers.
Be personal and conversational. Talk to your customers like you would speak to a friend.
If appropriate, use GIFs and imagery to illustrate your tone. It’s so hard to read someone’s intention over the internet, so adding visuals can add empathy and emotion to your message, and make it easier for your customers to connect with you.
Making your customer service more human will go a long way in delivering excellent customer service.
2. Excellent customer service is fast.
In today’s day and age, attention spans are shorter than ever before (and just getting worse). There are theories that the human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish: eight seconds for humans as opposed to nine seconds for the fish.
But whether or not the human attention span is actually shorter than that of a goldfish isn’t the point. The point is that humans have a really hard time sustaining attention. And this is all exacerbated by the fact that we live in a distraction-rich world, largely thanks to social media.
With attention spans shrinking and the amount of information increasing, customer support professionals get caught in the cross-fire.
Customers are impatient—more impatient than ever—and their expectations for fast and accurate support have grown immensely as a result. It’s a matter of seconds before a customer goes from happy to annoyed if they don’t get the level of support they expect, in the time they planned to wait for it.
So what’s a customer support professional to do? The answer: set expectations and prioritize being speedy.
In order to set the right expectations for support, excellent customer service teams simply need to over-communicate what the average wait time for support is. Use reports and measure how long it typically takes for your team to reply to a customer, then be transparent.
If it typically takes 24 hours to get back to a customer, be honest. Setting the right expectations from the get-go will help reduce anxiety and potential negative customer reactions.
In turn, make delivering fast responses a top priority for your support team. Maybe this means hiring more support reps as support volume increases. Or perhaps this means more training for your team on how to be efficient. Maybe it just means you need to create more Saved Replies (written in a customer-focused tone and as short-and-snappy as possible) to increase how quickly issues are solved.
Whatever you do, as long as delivering great service quickly is at the core of your support strategy, you’ll be better prepared to meet customer expectations.
3. Excellent customer support has great follow-through.
When it comes to many things in life, the potential is great. In sports, you might invest in a player who has the potential to be great. At work, you might give someone a promotion who has the potential to be a leader. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
When it comes to excellent customer service, potential is not enough; it’s all about the follow-through.
Think about it. One company has the potential to provide great service, but for whatever reason (lack of budget, lack of personnel, lack of desire, etc.) they don’t. Will customers wait around for that company to potentially start meeting their expectations?
I’m going to hazard a guess here and say no. Instead, customers will go to a competitor who already has the excellent customer support formula figured out.
So how does a company work on its customer service follow-through? You put the voice of the customer at the core of your business. And it’s easier to do it than you think.
If a customer gives feedback about a feature or aspect of your business to the support agent, that feedback can be easily shared across product, marketing and sales team’s when everyone’s using the same tool.
There’s no stepping from the help desk into something else just to share valuable customer suggestions (and getting lost along the way); instead, everyone’s collaborating together inside one platform.
On the flip side, if a support agent needs help answering customer questions from the product, marketing or sales teams, they can do so by collaborating within one help desk tool.
One tool simplifies communication and puts the voice of the customer front and center. In turn, businesses are more likely to follow-through on delivering great service, which is critical to keeping your customers coming back for more.
Delivering excellent customer service is simpler than you think.
When defining great customer support, the answer is so much straightforward than you think. It’s not about doing the opposite of what happened when you experience terrible customer service; instead, it’s about infusing your customer support strategy with values that create a great experience for your customers.
Be human, be fast, and follow-through on putting the voice of the customer first. In the end, your business will deliver excellent customer service and your customers will be happier for it.
Excellent customer service is easy with a tool like DoneDone. Try it free for 30 days.
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