offering stellar customer support

73% of consumers say a positive customer experience is key in influencing their loyalty to a brand. But today’s consumers expect more from their customer experience than they did three years ago. They want their choice of communication channels, and they expect faster response times.

For support agents to meet these expectations, they must be available whenever and wherever their customers need them. They need to provide support in a way the customer understands, and that makes them feel heard.

Here, we demystify how you and your support team can wow customers with four practices for delivering stellar support.

1. Be available on convenient, cost-effective channels

Not every customer prefers the same communication channel when it comes to contacting support. To be available for all of your customers, you need to offer efficient multi-channel support. Learn more about seamless conversations with the Zendesk conversational support guide.

Look to the typical ways your customers interact with your brand to identify which support channels will be most convenient to them. For example, if most of your sales are made on your website, it makes sense to offer live chat support from there. You can also conduct surveys or analyze historical data—such as the average number of tickets opened per communication channel—to identify your customers’ preferences.

Consider also the most common days and times support tickets are received. Make sure a sufficient number of agents are staffed during these peak hours so customers can receive support without delays.

It’s also important to consider your budget when offering multi-channel support. If adopting a new channel is going to increase operational costs, you need to identify whether or not those costs will be recouped over time. Is it likely to result in increased customer loyalty and repeat purchases? If so, the upfront costs may be worth the investment.

Once you’ve identified the right channels to best support your customers, your agents will need to fine-tune their communication skills accordingly.

2. Fine-tune your communication skills

To ensure the customer experience is both consistent and positive across channels, your agents need to be well-versed in friendly, helpful communication. Help your support team hone their skills by sharing the following techniques.

Smile while you speak

You’d be surprised how well a smile translates through your voice. A good practice when talking to a customer on the phone is to mimic the same body language you would if you were face-to-face—and that means smiling. You’ll sound friendlier, and it will help you stay in a positive mindset as you work to solve the customer’s issue.

Communicate hold times

When assisting a customer on the phone, keep them from feeling antsy by communicating expected hold times. If you have to put a customer on hold to look up information or get assistance from another agent, check in with them every minute or so to ensure them you’re still there.

Try this: Hi [customer], I apologize for the wait time. I’m still in the process of pulling up your information, but will be with you in just a minute or two.”

Use positive language

It doesn’t matter what channel you’re using to assist a customer—positive language is always helpful. It keeps the conversation focused on the solution rather than the problem.

For example, let’s say a customer wants to buy a new product using a lapsed promotional code. Instead of saying, “I can’t give you that discount because it expired last month,” focus on a solution by using positive language like, “Let’s take a look at some of our currently active promotional codes. We’ll make sure to find one that gets you the discount you’re looking for.”

This will keep your customer from feeling frustrated and open them up to your solution, even if it’s different from what they initially expected.

Mirror a customer’s language and tone

Mirroring is when a support agent mimics a customer’s tone of voice and language. It’s a powerful way to establish trust. For example, a customer who uses emojis when they communicate over text might feel more connected with a support agent who does the same.

Practice these communication skills across support channels, and you’re likely to leave customers feeling understood and supported.

3. Empathize with your customer

As a support agent, your ability to empathize with a customer is key for calming them down enough so that you can help solve their problem. Practice empathy by utilizing the following best practices.

Listen first

Let your customer talk through their problem without interrupting. Frustrated customers need time to get to the bottom of what’s really ailing them. Listening first will give your customer time to air out their concerns. It will also give you a chance to fully understand the problem, so you can effectively brainstorm how to solve it.

Acknowledge their frustration

Recognizing how your customer’s issue is affecting them is likely to make them feel supported. If they feel that you understand where they’re coming from, there’s a good chance they’ll be receptive to the solutions you suggest.

Beyond repeating the issue back to the customer, you might show your understanding by mentioning a similar issue you experienced. Just be wary of focusing too much on your experience—otherwise, the customer will think you’ve stopped caring about their problem.

Once you’ve acknowledged the customer’s problem, turn the conversation toward a solution. Say, for example, a customer has forgotten their login information. To recognize the issue and introduce next steps, you might say, “I understand you can’t log into your account because you’ve forgotten your credentials. Let’s get your personal information verified so that we can reset your password and regain you access to your account.”

Empathy goes a long way when it comes to customer support. The techniques above will help you calm your customers down and establish a personal connection with them more quickly. Ultimately, you’ll be able to solve more tickets in less time.

4. Summarize your solution

For a customer to leave a support conversation satisfied, they need to understand what you’re doing to help and how it will solve their problem.

Summarizing your solution is a great way to build trust and rapport. The more confidence your customers have in the support they receive, the more likely they are to keep coming back.

Prioritize your customers to offer stellar support

Top-notch customer support is meeting and exceeding your customers’ expectations. To accomplish this, you need to be available to your customers and ready to help. Offer support on the channels your customers prefer, and make sure you’re communicating with them in a friendly, yet professional way. Start with the four support practices in this post, and you’ll be well on your way to boosting customer satisfaction rates.

This blog was written by Zendesk. Faye is a Zendesk Master Development Partner