improving your customer support

For most companies, getting customer support right is a huge challenge. There’s a delicate balance between delivering the exceptional level of support your customers expect and keeping the costs of that support reasonable. Veer too far to either side, and the results can be catastrophic for the company’s bottom line. But with the right insights and experience to guide you, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.

Consider these 30 tips for bringing your customer support to the next level:

  1. Be helpful whenever possible.

    The only real goal that any support team should have is solving the customer’s problem. In other words, be helpful and check to make sure the issue is fully resolved. Don’t simply try to end the call as soon as possible, just to hit a target call time.

  2. Solve the problem on the first call.

    Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than having to make multiple calls, send multiple emails, or file multiple tickets, just to solve a problem with a product or service they’ve already paid for.

  1. Automate as much as you can.

    Chances are that your support staff spends a lot of time on small, tedious, and repetitive tasks. Individually, these tasks may only take a few seconds to complete. But over time, they can really add up. If a process or task can be automated, it probably should be.

  1. Consider the customer’s perspective.

    Broadly speaking, your customers are not going to be experts in your products or services. They may not realize that the answers they need are easily found online, or that the solution to their problem is staring them right in the face. They may need a little hand-holding.

  2. Use the right customer service tools.

    Great customer support doesn’t happen by accident. Your call center, ticketing, and other support software should regularly be updated and optimized, in order to maintain the most efficient workflow possible.

  3. Keep your records current.

    The last thing anyone contacting your support staff wants to do is waste time updating their account details before they can get someone to solve their problem. So you can automatically update this data by integrating your support software with your ERP, CRM, and other technology.

  1. Make a positive impression.

    The most effective skill your support staff can have is the ability to start each call with a helpful, positive attitude.

  1. Be timely with your responses.

    People who contact support want solutions immediately. The more prompt your response, the less frustrated those customers will become.

  1. Don’t take it personally.

    Customers are people, and sometimes people get irrationally frustrated. Solve their problem, be courteous, and move on.

  1. Apologize for mistakes, then fix those mistakes.

    Your customers know that mistakes and accidents happen. In most cases, all it takes to keep the customer happy is an honest apology followed by a solution.

  1. Fix the small problems before they become big problems.

    Over time, the small problems your customers have will only become bigger, harder to solve, and more expensive to fix. Deal with these problems as they are identified—and before they become entrenched.

  1. Listen to your customers.

    When your customers consistently complain about some element of your company’s products or services, take it seriously. These seemingly small problems can create a real opportunity for the competition to win over those unhappy customers.

  2. Listen to your support staff.

    As the primary end users of your CRM, call center software, and other technology, your employees know what works and what doesn’t. If they say they have a problem, hear them out.

  3. Incentivize good customer behaviors.

    When your customers use support options that save your company time and money (such as using a chat bot or sending a support ticket before escalating to an expensive support call), consider rewarding them in some small way (such as giving them a coupon or waiving a negligible fee).

  1. It’s OK to let the bad customers leave.

    Some customers are never happy, and there’s not much your customer support staff can do to change that. Don’t let a bad customer’s temper tantrum damage the morale of otherwise great support staff.

  2. Continually improve your training.

    Invest in the continuing education and skill-building of your customer support team. If the support staff struggles with the CRM or other technology, consider a gamification plugin that will make the experience more rewarding.

  3. Provide meaningful incentives for the support team.

    Even small rewards for a job well done can do wonders for morale. A happier team will have a lower turnover rate, which reduces the costs of training replacements.

  1. Streamline your processes.

    Your support team has better things to do than wrestle with an overly complex and counterintuitive workflow. By refining this workflow, you allow them to focus on their top priority: solving customer issues.

  1. Provide a solution for your customers.

    Your team’s final answer on a support call should never be “No” or “There’s nothing we can do.” If the customer support rep can’t resolve the problem, make sure they know how to connect them with someone who can. (But remember, enable them to just connect them to one other person. Don’t have a rep send the customer round-robin style around the company contact list.)

  1. Empathy matters.

    Always remember that your customers are contacting support because they need help. Asking for help from a stranger can be scary and intimidating. If you take a few moments to build rapport, you can minimize customer stress, anxiety, and frustration.

  1. Be personable, professional, and respectful.

    Even the best customer support worker can’t control the mood or attitude of the customer. But they can always control their own responses.

  1. Saying “Thank you” makes a real difference.

    The goal of any support call is to leave the customer feeling satisfied. Sincerely thanking them for the call is a simple, effective, and cost-free way to encourage that feeling.

  1. Recognize your most loyal customers.

    Returning and renewing customers are the lifeblood of any business. It’s always worth it to recognize that loyalty during a support call. This kind of simple statement can create an enormously positive impact: “I see you’ve been with us for three years. Thank you for being a loyal customer.”

  1. Remember to thank your newest customers, too.

    Use every interaction with a new customer as an opportunity to reinforce the idea that they made the right decision when they chose to buy from your company.

  1. Use your visibility on social media.

    By promptly and professionally responding to customer concerns on a public forum like Twitter or Facebook, your team is effectively turning that support into free marketing, which doubles its value and impact.

  1. Be consistent.

    Your customers need to know they can expect a high level of support every time they reach out for help.

  1. Support the customer support team.

    Everyone at the company should appreciate the work the support team does. And every department should be willing to provide them with the resources and assistance they need to keep customers happy.

  1. Upgrade and refine your support tools.

    Keep your CRM and support software updated. If your CRM is out of date, it may be time to “refresh” it, to create a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

  1. Don’t get lost in the metrics.

    While metrics and KPIs are useful tools, they aren’t everything. It doesn’t matter how low your average call times are if your customers switch to another provider because they can’t get the help they need.

  1. Make customer support a real priority.

    If you want to keep your customers coming back, your company’s executive team can’t treat customer support like an afterthought. It may not be the highest priority, but it always needs to be part of the conversation.

At Faye, we’ve helped countless companies use training and technology to find the sweet spot for their customer service. We can show you how to create a customer support infrastructure that allows customers to feel truly satisfied—without breaking your company’s bottom line.

To learn more about how we can help your business, contact us today for a free consultation.