In our busy lives, we touch so many products and services, we are bound to call, email, or chat with those businesses (perhaps your business) for help with directions, questions, and problems we are having. Over the past several months, I’ve had more than my share of interactions with customer service departments. Here are the 10 most important lessons I learned:
- Don’t Leave Customers On Hold – If the government knows this, why don’t we? When your customer service lines, live chat, or even in-person CS desk starts to stack up, offer customers the option for a callback. It really makes all the difference. Even the IRS does this!
- Ask For A Callback Number – Great way to get permission to follow-up, can be used to identify the customer in the future, and of course gives you a way to call the customer back if you get disconnected. If you haven’t already, you should read this by Seth Godin, his first big hit… http://www.amazon.com/Permission-Marketing-Turning-Strangers-Customers/dp/0684856360.
- Ask How To Pronounce The Customers Name (and what they prefer to be called) – Calling someone by his or her name makes a big difference.
- Listen Carefully To Your Customer’s Questions and Concerns – Although many customer issues can be very similar, every customer is unique, and so are their concerns. It isn’t enough to say; “I understand” from a script. Sure there are tricks like repeating back what the customer said, but without authenticity, it feels hollow. Disney rocks it here!
- If Transferring To Another Representative, Stay On The Line Until That Connection Is Made – My bank (Wells Fargo) does a great job with this. It makes the customer feel safe and shows you care.
- Don’t Script Everything For Your Reps – A simple example, delivering a rehearsed apology without real knowledge of what you are sorry about is worse than not saying you’re sorry at all.
- Train, Don’t Just Script – Go to the Genius Bar in an Apple retail store and you will see and feel what good training will do. Knowledge of a product or service is everything. Spend the money to train your staff properly.
- Follow-up – So easy to do, yet so few of us do it. Make sure you have resolved your customer’s question or concern. It can be as simple as an email. Less than a minute. Asus makes the best routers, their customer service is amazing, and they followed-up to make sure everything was straight.
- Keep Your Promise – If you say you will call on a specific day, do that. If you promise to have your customer’s issue resolved by Friday, make sure that happens.
- Don’t Reward Only New Customers – I’m an AT&T and DirecTV customer, and have been for many years (been through several name changes with AT&T…remember Cingular, AT&T Mobility). AT&T is running a promotion with DirecTV but the small writing in their TV ad says “DirecTV new customers only”. Rewarding loyal customers will get you far.
When is the last time you went through your own customer service process? If you haven’t lately, do it now! You may be shocked at what you find, and remember, the customer service team should be a big marketing advantage for you. Want to create a message for your customers to spread? Solve a problem for them. Exceed their expectations. The money will come.