“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”Bill Gates
Boost your customer success
Today’s customer has more power over your business than ever before. Thanks to social media and customer review sites like Yelp and Google review, your customers can reach a huge audience to either praise or vilify your business. That’s one of the reasons why so many businesses have become so focused on “customer success,” or as some still call it, customer service.
A happy customer is not only a returning customer. Today, a happy customer can drive dozens of leads to your business based on a review they shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, or so many other sites. So, how do you provide excellent customer service in order to nurture existing customers and attract new ones?
First of all, you need to take customer service or customer success seriously. It’s a critical department of your business, even if you’re a small business. And it doesn’t matter if your business sells a simple product or service.
One common myth about customer service is that it’s more relevant to businesses that have complex or technical products or services. But every business needs a winning approach to customer service. For example, many businesses rely solely on word of mouth or online reviews, such as a hair salon or day care center.
So no matter if you are running a medium sized customer support and service center for an app you developed or a one-person customer service team for your yoga studio, you need to implement several tools and practices for a winning customer service strategy.
- Speak like a human being, not a machine
- Stay positive! Avoid using negative language
- Focus on the quality of service instead of speed
- Arm your team with the right customer success tools
- Ask for feedback!
1) Speak like a human being, not a machine
The approach and tone of customer service communication has evolved. In the recent past, it used to sound extremely formal and impersonal. Just take a look at the message below:
There are several things wrong with this message. For starters, it used the passive voice, “your support request was received,” instead of the active voice: “We received your support request.” Avoid using the passive voice; it sounds robotic. Instead, use the active voice. Here are some examples of both- see how different they feel:
|Passive Voice||Active Voice|
|You order is being processed||We are processing your order|
|Your request has been received||We received your request|
|Your order has been shipped||We’ve shipped your order|
The other thing wrong with the message above is that it does not include any personal touch: It doesn’t address the name of the customer and it doesn’t sign off with the customer service rep’s name.
Here is how to personalize the message and make it sound human using the active voice:
Email subject: “Name, we’ve received your request”
Body: “Hi Name,
Thanks for contacting us. We’ve received your request, and I or another customer service rep will get back to you as soon as we can!
[Name of business]”
2) Stay positive! Avoid using negative language
Nobody likes a “Negative Nancy,” and that goes for customer support language as well! If you want your customers to have a positive impression of your company—even when dealing with difficult issue—then you need to frame every conversation within a positive mindset.
Let’s say a customer emails your customer service team about an order that wasn’t fulfilled correctly: Your team accidentally sent the wrong color product. Granted, this is a mistake on your business’ part. But it doesn’t have to be treated like a negative situation if you use the right language. Here’s how to keep it positive:
Subject line: “Re: You sent blue instead of purple”
Email Body: “Hi Name,
Blue and purple definitely have different vibes, so we want to make sure you get the right color! Here’s what we’ll do:
I’ve attached a shipping label so you can mail us back the blue at no cost to you.
As soon as we get the blue back, I’m sending you the purple with express shipping on us!
I’m refunding you 20% of this purchase as a “thank you” for your patience and understanding!
Please let me know if you have any questions!
The tone of this message is uplifting and doesn’t focus on the mistake itself. It simply acknowledges it and offers a positive solution. This is a great way to keep your customers feeling positive about their experience even when things go wrong.
3) Focus on the quality of service instead of speed
There is an obsession with getting to “Inbox Zero” when it comes to customer service emails. But, the fastest response isn’t always the best one. Sometimes, it’s worth taking more time to come up with the best possible solution.
Let’s say that a customer makes a request for a refund outside of the refund period that your reps are trained to deny. A rep can quickly reply by quoting the refund policy and denying the refund. But that’s a very black and white approach for the sake of speed. Nothing is ever that black or white.
When it comes to customer service, each customer situation is unique. It’s important to train your reps to hear your customers. Why are they asking for a refund beyond the refund period? What is the specific situation that delayed their request?
Give your reps the opportunity to hear out customers’ situations. In some cases, there might be a good reason to show some leniency and bend the rules. Making exceptions to the rules often requires approval from management, which delays the whole process.
But ask any customer: Would they rather get a quick denial of their request or wait longer to see if a compromise is possible? Most would wait! So, remember to give your customer service reps the breathing room to investigate each query in order to come up with the best possible outcome for both the customer and your business.
4) Arm your team with the right customer success tools
There are so many kinds of customer service tools to serve different types of traffic, companies and overall needs. If you are a small business with a low volume of customer service inquiries, then you don’t need the most expensive or powerful tools.
But you should always plan for growth. One of the best ways to ensure customer success and scale your customer base is to use a CRM or customer relationship management tool. A CRM is a digital database of your customers’ information, which makes it a great tool for sales and customer services teams.
You can use it to record vital information like customer service conversations. Keeping a log of customer service interactions using a CRM will help your entire team stay informed on a customer’s status, no matter who is handling the query at a given time.
Here is a screenshot of the vCita CRM dashboard. Notice the section for “conversations.” This is where your CRM team can take notes about each customer interaction’—this feature allows any rep on your team to seamlessly follow-up with a customer regarding a ticket or query no matter who initially logged the ticket. This makes it easier for both your customers and your reps!
5) Ask for feedback!
So, let’s say you’ve implemented the previous four rules we’ve outline above… how do you know if they’re having a positive effect? One of the best ways to measure your customer service performance is simply to ask for feedback. As a customer yourself, you’ve probably have been asked to rate your customer service experience at one point or another.
You can ask for feedback in several ways: Via an email, survey, or simply a feedback mechanism in the customer support platform you are using (a chat service, for example). But keep in mind, you must invite feedback immediately after the issue is resolved. Once you’ve collected enough feedback, analyze it to notice trends and insights.
Very business of every size, small and large, must take a dedicated approach to customer service. It’s also important to be very strategic in hiring the right people to staff your customer service team and to invest in them and value their contribution.
Providing customer service is a notoriously challenging role and needs to be recognized as such. So remember not only to focus on your customer’s happiness but also that of your customer service team!