Customer Service 101: What You Need to Know

December 10, 2014


Today’s guest post comes from Emma Siemasko. She is a content marketing specialist at Grasshopper, the entrepreneur’s phone system, and author of Jump: The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Growing a Business.

Ever have a bad customer service experience? You just wanted something simple, but they made it so difficult. You had to call three numbers, send twelve emails, and your issue still wasn’t resolved. Even when you finally talked to a human, you felt like they didn’t hear you.

We can’t control how other companies handle their customer service, but we can decide to make it a priority in our own businesses. And we’d be silly not to. Seventy-eight percent of consumers have bailed on a transaction because of poor customer service. Yikes.

But it’s the positive experiences that make the real difference. Loyal customers—those who are satisfied—are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase with you. Good customer service can inspire these customers to stick around, buying from you over and over again and vouching for you wherever they go.

How to get magical customer service? Here are some tips:

Be Easy to Reach

If it’s hard for a customer to get in touch, then they’re going to be even more miffed when they finally find your email address or phone number. Make it as easy as pie for customers to solve their issues, and be prompt about replies. Create an online knowledge base that is so helpful they never have to call or email you in the first place.

You can create customer expectations as well, and then surpass them. Tell customers you’ll get back to them within 48 hours, then get back to them in 24. Instead of being disappointed that it took you one whole day, they’ll be pleased you got back before you said you would.

Listen More Than Talk

There’s nothing more annoying than a support representative who blathers on without listening. Often, assumptions are made before the issues are even understood. This doesn’t accomplish anything. Listen first, and be ready to listen for a long time. Let the customer air out all their grievances, and then address them one by one. Be patient and try not to get annoyed.

Go Slow

It might seem like you want to get off the phone as soon as possible, but go slow and be patient. Things are more easily resolved with patience and care. Don’t rush. Go slow and be patient as you work through each and every phone call. This will make customers feel as though you have all the time for them in the world, which will make them happy they’re doing business with you.

Consider Your Tone

Words and tone are completely different. In fact, according to a study at University College London, words and tone are sent to two different parts of human brains. It turns out that 65% of customers prefer a casual tone than a really formal one, no matter if they’re VPs or entry-level employees. Most were totally ok with the use of emoticons. It’s been found that removing the word “actually” from customer service interactions improved the experience. Instead of saying “Actually, you can do that!” say “Sure, you can do that.”

Get Personal

Personal touches generate a lot of love. Many businesses send thank you notes to customers after a support interaction. Sometimes agents even take note of things they’ve said or the type of business they run, and send a gift along. For example, Grasshopper sent custom dog bones to a customer who ran a kennel. The customer was overjoyed, and will surely be a fan for life.