Customer Service Psychology 101

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

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Let’s be honest, people are complicated and simply trying to understand them can be a real challenge. When we are struggling to effectively cope with life issues, we often turn to external sources for help, be it a friend, family member or a psychologist. Similarly, your customers will seek your all-star support agents and informative knowledge base to solve their problems. Just like a psychologist, you must identify the issues, read the customer’s emotions and offer a solution to make things better. The good news is, you don’t a need Ph.D. in psychology or even a super comfy couch to save the day.

If you are looking to offer the ultimate customer service experience you must understand the ins and outs of the consumer psyche. From building strong relationships with your patrons to making a memorable first impression, you can’t afford to miss these useful tips.

Back to basics

Those of us who were paying attention in our Psychology 101 class will probably remember Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of human needs (and no, chocolate is still not one of them). At the very foundation lay primary survival necessities, such as the ability to breath, eat and sleep. Once these are met, we seek emotional needs, like a feeling of value, love and belonging. Finally, at the top of the pyramid is what Maslow termed self-actualization, when all our physical and psychological necessities are fulfilled and we can achieve true happiness and success in life.

So how does this make you better connect and truly understand your customers?

When you understand your client’s vital needs, you are better prepared to provide them with the best possible experience. In fact, research shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a good experience, which is why it is essential that you offer only the best.

With this goal in mind, start building a game plan. Let’s take a deeper look at three criteria inspired by Maslow’s pyramid of needs: “The customer service edition.

  1. Meet expectations: Let’s start at the very beginning. At the base of the pyramid you need to ensure customer satisfaction. Get started by training your team properly and setting up an easy-to-use help desk software that enables you to build a knowledge base and use essential tools such as a ticketing system so your team can perform at their best level. This is your first step towards building a strong relationship with your client base. Then, once you have mastered the basics, it is time to take it to the next level.

  2. Create happy customers: Much like in Maslow's pyramid, you will need to build on the foundation in order to create a truly exceptional customer service experience. If you want to stand out from the pack, you need to get proactive. When interacting with customers, you need to know the right questions to ask in order to get to the heart of the issue. Think of yourself as a detective attempting to decipher a customer’s complex questions. While some customers will be very direct and to the point, others will be less clear. Much like a detective, a good support agent must be on the lookout for helpful clues and information. Start by reading their comments in their entirety and looking for pieces of information and context. This way customers won’t feel like a broken record repeating the same information in a loop. Avoid using automated answers as these lack both personality and individuality. Instead, use saved replies as a template to craft a personalized response. Refer back to details the client provided in their ticket and ask follow-up questions based on the information there. This ensures that your customers will feel valued and respected. Every detail matters, from the way you answer questions to your word choice and tone of voice proves you are with them from beginning to end.

  3. Provide the wow factor: Give your clients a truly incredible experience that will leave them singing praises to their friends. To achieve this top tier, you need to go the extra mile to anticipate customers needs and make sure you are ready to meet them. Building a support team of knowledgeable, professional (yet personal) and confident agents for handling interactions will go a long way when it comes to retaining customer loyalty. Research shows that customers tend to prefer self-service technology over interacting with support agents. Simply put, they don’t want to contact the company multiple times and explain their issue repeatedly. Searching and finding the answers on their own through a knowledge base empowers your customer. When they are able to resolve issues individually, they will not only get their answers more quickly, but also comprehend valuable information at their own pace. As an added bonus, they will feel more faithful and connected to your brand. The benefits speak for themselves. Anticipate how your customers will try to reach out to you. Whether they help themselves through an informative help center or by reaching out through social media channels, you need to be easily discoverable on the Web. One way to do so is through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. For example, doing keyword research and utilizing the best findings throughout your help center descriptions and titles. This will ensure that when customers are searching for help, the answers from your website will be easily accessible.

Emotions rule the game

As humans, our emotions influence how we make decisions. A frustrated customer may feel require extra guidance in certain situations (and hand-holding too). If you come across as confident, calm and sympathetic, they will mirror your attitude and respond more rationally. Exuding a positive aura is not only good for your customers, it will a have significant impact on you too. To make sure you can handle any situations like a pro, we've rounded up three surefire ways for dealing with customers and all of their (crazy) emotions:

  • Don’t let the situation get out of hand. When we’re upset or scared, our emotions tend to get the best of us. You are going to want need to have a well-structured game plan and workflow for handling sensitive cases. For example, moving a public billing complaint on social media to a private chat to avoid bringing negative attention to your brand. Having established protocols for how to deal with different situations ensures that e