We could give you a dozen stats and more on what people expect from customer service, but that rather defeats the whole point. Your customers aren’t just numbers. They’re not just tickets to close. The kind of customer service stats out there tell us what we already know: Customers want to be treated like human beings because their patronage truly matters to your business. And it does! Customer loyalty is one of the best assets a business can hope for.
Bad experiences happen—that goes hand in hand with any service provider. Customer service reps are the one who patch the wounds, repair the trust, and keep the relationship growing. Otherwise, the rest of the team has to put more time, energy, and effort into finding new customers and starting new relationships from scratch. Consumers are well aware they can leave your business for another if they have a bad experience or don’t feel valued. So when it comes to customer service, one path stands head and shoulders above the rest: building that relationship.
We tapped our Senior Director of Customer Success, Larry Browne, for his take on best practices in his field. Our team is invaluable to the rest of us at OnSIP, as well as to our customers. It only takes a quick scroll through our Trustpilot page to realize that our customers respect and value our customer service team—in no small part because the customers feel respected and valued in every interaction. Others take notice as well, leading to regular accolades like BIG’s Excellence in Customer Service Award. So when it comes to building that all-important customer relationship, here’s what Larry has to say.
“Handle each encounter with the knowledge that the customer is calling because they don't know what's wrong or what to do, and you do.”
Attitude is everything. A few kind words to express that you understand a customer’s frustration goes a long way. When you have a problem you can’t solve, the last thing you want to hear from someone with the answers is a sense of superiority. Validate the customer’s feelings, empathize, and let him lead with the issue. Don’t cut him off even if you know the answer right away—your customer wants to be heard.
“It may be hard to tell the truth because it's not what the customer wants to hear, but honesty builds and strengthens relationships.”
At the risk of sounding like your grade school teachers, honesty is the best policy! Think about any calls you’ve made to a support line. Did you prefer hearing the truth or useless platitudes that help no one and likely only added to your frustration? When customers know to expect honest responses from the company they pay for a service, that strengthens the relationship. And that’s what keeps them coming back.
“Listening, understanding, and honesty go a long way to getting them back on track and having a better day.”
This should go without saying, but nobody calls a support line because their day is going great. On top of that, there are plenty of stereotypes around support lines, particularly, *ahem*, phone and Internet service provider support lines. Said stereotypes are a main reason building relationships with customers is paramount.
It’s tough to hear anger spewing through the phone lines from the people who called you for help! Keep a kind, friendly demeanor, especially in the face of anger or adversity. Remember, you’re there to help. Think about your reaction when something goes wrong and affects your day, your business, your mood. You never know what other factors are at play in someone’s day. Also think of that rush of calm you experience when someone helps you fix your issues, no matter how small. That’s your role here, and customers will both remember and thank you for it.
We’ll leave you with one last tidbit from Larry, to help sum all of this up: