“Decide you must, how to serve them best.” - Yoda
Okay, so the Jedi Master was referring to something else when he spoke these wise words to Luke Skywalker, but he might as well have been talking about customer service. There are many ways to provide support. You could help clients with the installation of a product, maintenance, troubleshooting, upgrading, etc. But regardless of the specific issue at hand, at the core of these concerns is a question, and it usually starts with, "How do I…?" Your customers want answers, and perhaps one of the best ways to provide support is to help them find these.
How do we do that, you might ask? Well, here are some tips:
Be reachable everywhere
It sounds like common sense, right? But you might be surprised at how difficult it is to get a hold of some companies. So tell your customers how to find you, and be available. Publish your contact information on your website, on your Facebook page, in Google My Business, and in online directories. Let people know that you want to be found. An important thing to remember, though, is to make your contact information consistent across all channels. Imagine a customer googling your restaurant’s number to make reservations only to reach a different business, or worse – another restaurant. Wherever you publish your NAP (name, address, phone number), ensure that the information is the same and up-to-date.
Find your clients where they are
Carry out market research to understand where your clients usually ask their questions. These could be in forums, your call center, or by email. But if there’s one medium that is cross-industry and cross-generational, that’s social media. After all, usage has become pervasive: as of early 2018, 68% of adults in the United States are Facebook users, while 71% of young Americans aged 18-24 use Instagram, according to the Pew Research Center. Having social media presence means users can reach you in channels they already actively participate in. It’s convenient for them and for you. It’s a fast and efficient way to get answers. Plus, it’s transparent and helps build your community. If you do offer customer service through these channels though, make it a goal to be prompt. Answer your clients’ inquiries as soon as possible (and with high quality answers). If you can’t respond to your customers in a timely manner, what’s the point of using social media to deliver support? It’s like driving a Ferrari through inner city traffic. So harness the speed of social media by being accessible and responsive.
Build a good knowledge base
Customers these days are quite proactive. They search for solutions to any issues they have, and they don’t hesitate to use self-service options when they are available. Setting up a knowledge base is an effective way to anticipate your users’ needs and provide answers to their questions before they even ask. This is where you can address common issues and frequently asked questions. It’s also where you can include tutorials on how to use your product or services. In addition, it can serve as the jump off point for further contact between you and your users. It’s a one-stop shop for all their customer service needs.
What’s the first thing people do when they have a question about a product? They Google it. It goes without saying that you want to be among the top search results. Indeed, the more people see your pages, the more clicks you’ll get to your site as most people don’t click through to page 2. So how does one achieve this? By improving the SEO of your website and more specifically, your knowledge base. One way to do this is to use relevant keywords in the titles of your knowledge base articles and in their URLs. In our guide, you can find everything you need to know about finding the best keywords and implementing them in your content. Interlinking between knowledge base articles is another great way for Google to discover more of your pages. The more search engines “crawl” (scan) and “index” (save a copy of) your pages, the higher the chances for your customers to find you online.
Draw clear paths to the right channels
Simplify your customers’ path to finding answers by giving them a map that’s easy to understand. If “X” marks the spot of the answer, reduce the number of steps your clients have to make to reach it. Don’t send them on a wild goose chase. Be their Waze and help them find the shortest route to their destination. If there are some common concerns that customers ask about, place these in your FAQ. If they need to send information to specific departments, such as Billing, Accounts, or Returns, tell them how to find these. Publish it on your website and social media pages. Make it clear who they need to get in touch with to address specific issues.
Make finding solutions a mindset
Remember that the goal is to help your customers find answers, not pass them around like a hot potato! You’ve probably experienced how it feels to be lobbed from agent to agent, having to explain your problem repeatedly without solving anything. Annoying, right? So show your customers that you’re there to help. And train your team with this mindset in focus. When receiving a call or a message, analyze the problem carefully and identify possible solutions. Choose the most appropriate option and communicate this in a clear and precise manner. If you don’t know the answer to a specific question right away, it’s okay to tell them you’ll get back to them with a solution. And if you do have to pass them on to someone else, route them to a person or a department that could really help them.
Take the time to truly listen to your customers. Helping them find the right answers starts with fully understanding the question in the first place. It’s tempting to assume we already know what they’re going to ask, especially after having responded to hundreds of inquiries about similar issues. Nevertheless, give each of your clients a chance to be heard. You just might find yourself dealing with something unique. If you are on the phone, wait until your clients finish explaining their concerns. You can indicate that you’re actively listening by using interjections such as “uh-huh”, “mmm”, or “I see,” but try not to interrupt if they haven’t finished speaking yet. It also helps to reiterate or reformulate the issue. This lets them know you were listening and also prevents miscommunication. If you are reading an email or a Facebook message, read what they’ve written in its entirety before responding.
Showing empathy is part of genuinely listening to your clients. Remember that there’s a human being at the other end of the line. Treat each person with dignity and respect. Not everyone is tech-savvy or is able to communicate fluently in the language you speak. There are clients who may find it challenging to follow instructions over the phone, or those who have trouble navigating your website. This is where you need to listen for what isn’t explicitly said, and address customers’ needs beyond simply giving them an answer. Be patient with those who need extra help. Be kind. Customer service is about building and maintaining trust, and this is reinforced - or weakened - in each interaction. Listening goes a long way toward bolstering that trust.
Analyze your data and adjust accordingly
What is the average response time of your support team? What is their ticket volume? Resolution rate? How satisfied are your customers? These are just some of the questions that the metrics in your help desk software will be able to answer. Learn from them. If your numbers are lagging, find the cause and adjust. Your customers can’t find the answers they need if your lines are always busy or if you don’t have enough staff to respond to messages promptly. So just as a sailing team adapts to the vagaries of the wind, you and your support team will want to modify your operations based on your users’ needs.
Know your product inside out
“Got questions? Ask the experts!” We find these words all over the Internet. Well, guess what? Those experts they’re referring to? That’s you and your team! Your clients expect you to know your products and services like the back of your hand, so train your staff thoroughly. Create a training plan that gives them ample opportunity to get up close and personal with your products. In addition, help your representatives develop crucial customer service skills that will enable them to effectively assist your clients.
Product knowledge is not enough, however. You must also develop a keen understanding of how your clients use your product. One way to do this is to conduct usability tests. This refers to a technique of checking if your product lives up to its goals, or if it is intuitive, by observing how representative clients use it. Doing this gives you insight not only into how you could refine your product, but also how your users’ minds work.
Ask for feedback
Engage actively with your customers and ask them how you could improve your products, services, and support. Ask them to enter quick polls or to fill out surveys. Read what they write about you on social media. It also helps to allow them to vote for feature requests. Take their feedback seriously (including negative ones!). Their comments will ultimately help you deliver a better customer experience.
One last question before you go: how can you do these things the hassle-free way? Wix Answers can help!