10 Customer Support Best Practices You Should Know
Your online reputation is everything. To ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect it, you need to know these customer support best practices.
Customers hate when they call customer service and get a message saying, “Sorry, but all our staff are on calls.” Even worse is a message that says, “Thank you for calling Customer Support, but our help desk is closed for the rest of today.” If you’re not careful, your support reps can turn a great experience for a customer into a nightmare.
Customer support is one of those things that most people either don’t give much attention to or try to do without. It can be an absolute nightmare or an essential part of your business model. It all depends on whether you want to run or be a business.
1 – Customer Support Basics
Here’s the short version: you’re providing a service to someone who needs your help. Your goal is to make the person you’re supporting feel that they have received value for money – and to do this; you need to be friendly and helpful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a company representative, a shop assistant, a call centre agent, a social worker or a consultant. There’s always a ‘customer’, and your role is to help them understand the value of your service and, if necessary, to offer alternative services.
You must be friendly and helpful.
Being helpful means:
- Understanding the customer’s problem. The more you understand their concerns, the better able you will be to answer their questions and resolve their problems.
- You are treating them with respect. This includes ensuring you are polite, firm, friendly, and not confrontational. It’s not an easy balance to maintain, but it will mean that customers will feel that you genuinely want to help them.
- You are providing information. If possible, you should always provide relevant information to the person calling you, even if they ask you not to. They might be worried about confidentiality or other reasons for not wanting to discuss their issues, but if you can reassure them, they will usually be grateful. If you don’t have the information they are asking for, tell them that you will provide the information to them as soon as it is available.
- Offering help. As a company representative, you should always help the person on the other end of the phone. Even if you cannot solve the person’s problem, you can suggest they go elsewhere to get further help.
- Giving advice. If a person asks you for advice, offer help rather than advice. For example, if someone asks you to send them a password, suggest that they take the information they need from the company’s website or the system’s Help menu.
- Resolving the problem. Finally, if you think the person has found a solution to their problem, explain it to them. Explain how the solution will work, and let them decide whether they agree with your explanation.
If a customer asks a question you are unfamiliar with, you will need to find the answer before offering help. This means learning more about the customer’s issue.
The more you ask, the more you will learn. It’s essential to take the time to understand your customer’s problem. Ask about the details, such as the product’s name, the date of purchase, the type of product, etc.
Ask for clarification.
If a customer is unclear about the problem, you must clarify the details and ensure that you fully understand the customer’s concern. For example, you may ask if someone wants to buy a specific item. You may also need to ask if the product is working or if it’s having problems.
Sometimes you will receive instructions from a customer’s computer. The instructions may come in the form of a message or email. You should read the instructions thoroughly, follow them carefully, and ensure you understand them.
Help them solve their problem.
You should do so if a customer asks you to resolve their problem. If you can’t resolve their problem, you should refer them to other customer support options that can help them.
Never give the impression that you are busy.
You will have to wait for your turn to speak to a customer. Make the person who’s called know that you will be there when they call again. Remembering that they are paying for your time is also essential, so be courteous.
2 – Set Up an FAQ Page
Customer support can be challenging for anyone. People need help with issues and problems for many reasons, but the key is that the customer support staff are usually happy to help.
An FAQ page (Frequently Asked Questions) is an excellent way of providing this information to customers. It is quick and easy to add and is also searchable – making it very useful for finding information quickly and easily.
But it has to be written with care, thought and sensitivity.
So how do you do it? Here are some tips for writing an FAQ page:
Be clear and concise
FAQ pages answer questions rather than provide a sales pitch or make excuses. So be brief and precise and make sure you use the right words.
Your customers will not want to go on a wild goose chase looking for answers in customer support. You should include easy-to-find contact details and make it clear where they can find out more about the issue.
Be clear on your position
If you are selling a product, you should explain why you think your product is the best solution and explain why it works. If you offer advice, explain your qualifications and how you would like to help.
Give an apology
There is nothing worse than having your customers read through pages of technical jargon to find the answer to their question, only to discover that the answer you provide is inadequate and doesn’t solve the problem. Always include an apology explaining why things haven’t been done correctly or that the answer you have provided is not adequate.
Do check the facts
Don’t just copy and paste from other websites. It may sound like a quick way to generate lots of content, but it can be misleading and cause misunderstandings. Make sure you have checked the facts and rechecked them. It would help if you were careful about advising unless you know what you are talking about.
You may want to include links to further information, products, services, and resources. But ensure they are helpful to customers. Don’t create a link to another site if your customer has already visited that site and you want to draw them back.
Make sure you give your customers credit. They might not have paid for your product, but they expect you to provide good service. Use copyright information and links to other relevant sites.
Don’t forget to ask
FAQ pages can be pretty powerful tools. But you can also use them to provide poor-quality customer support. Make sure you ask your customers questions and listen to their responses carefully before you respond.
3 – Conduct a Competitive Analysis
There is no one size fits all approach to conducting a competitive analysis. But in general terms, there are three approaches that you can use to do a competitive analysis, which I will outline below. The three approaches are:
- Compare yourself to others.
- Find out what others are doing.
- Learn about their success.
When doing a competitive analysis, the main aim is to discover what others are doing so that you can learn from them and get ideas on how you can improve your customer service and make it better.
In this section, I will share the key things to consider when conducting a competitive analysis.
Compare yourself to others.
This approach is similar to the “what if?” questions approach to conducting a competitive analysis. Still, instead of asking “what if?” questions, it asks “how” questions, such as “How does this company compare to the other companies in my market?”
It’s important to ask “how” questions because you can only find valuable answers to these questions by comparing yourself to others.
You can think about it like this. Suppose you have two different companies in the same industry. They both offer the same product or service. What would you expect to happen? Would you expect one company to be cheaper than the other? Or would you expect the company offering the higher-priced product to have a better service than the company offering the lower-priced product?
Find out what others are doing.
The second approach is to find out what others are doing. This is often referred to as market analysis and involves finding out what other companies in your market are doing.
You can conduct a market analysis in many ways. You could look at company websites to find out what they offer or talk to people in the market.
You could also search online to find out what others are doing. If you are looking for market analysis, an excellent place to start is with Google. If you type the name of the company you are interested in and the keyword “market analysis”, you can find out what others are doing in the market.
Many accessible sources can give you information about the market analysis. You can find a list of the best free tools to use in a market analysis online.
Learn about their success.
The final approach is to look at the success of others. This can be useful for learning from the experiences of others.
You can ask, “what if they had chosen to do something differently?”
The idea behind this approach is that if you can learn from the successes and failures of others, you can take better decisions and make better choices.
4 – Use a CRM System
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are software tools companies use to manage their customers’ relationships with them. The main advantage of using a CRM system for customer service is the capacity to collect information from a customer through its software and store it in one single source for easy retrieval at any time.
CRM systems are usually used by companies that offer online services, such as web hosting and email hosting, so it can be easier for customers to track their data and communicate with the company. Some businesses looking to improve their customer relations will also choose a CRM system to keep track of their customer relationships.
A CRM system can be used as an effective communication tool. Most CRM systems include the following features:
- Sales: A CRM system helps businesses organise sales leads and to ensure that leads are converted into sales. This is achieved through a marketing lead tracking system that organises sales and marketing processes.
- Support: A CRM system can also help businesses efficiently manage customer relationships. Through the system, customers can easily communicate their problems, and the problem is easily solved.
- Service: CRM systems are also used for the service of customers. For example, a business may use its CRM system to provide 24/7 customer support and ensure people are happy with the service received.
- Marketing: Some CRM systems also allow marketers to track customers’ buying habits, customising their communications and product information.
A CRM system provides businesses with many benefits. It saves time and effort, enables businesses to build customer relationships, and improves sales and customer service efficiency.
To get the best CRM system, businesses need to select the correct type of system for them. This is done based on the needs of the business. The system must be simple to use and must be easy to integrate into the other systems.
In addition, a CRM system must be able to meet the demands of the business and the market. It should also provide businesses with a solution to address all their issues related to the customer.
The most suitable CRM system is a system that integrates all the features mentioned above.
5 – Automate Customer Service Calls
The best thing about customer service is the human interaction and the chance to build relationships. But the downside of customer service is the high number of calls we receive daily. Sometimes we receive calls from the same customer all day or even all week.
We know that it is not easy to manage your time effectively, but it is possible to automate your calls with call centre management software.
There are different automated call centres, each offering different features and benefits. The three main types of an automated call centre are:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – This call centre requires you to interact with a computer-generated voice. An IVR system will require you to press numbers to continue your call or ask for help.
- Interactive Self-service (ISS) – This call centre requires you to interact with a computer-generated voice. An ISS system will require you to press buttons and enter data to continue your call.
- Software Enabled Services – This type of call centre can handle the entire interaction with your customers without requiring human intervention.
Each automated call centre offers different benefits and can be used for different situations. For example, an interactive self-service call centre can be used for inbound calls, while you can use a software-enabled call centre for outbound calls.
Each type of automated call centre has its pros and cons. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, which are detailed below:
Interactive voice response
- A good choice for inbound call centres where your goal is to ensure quality customer service.
- Can reduce costs by reducing the number of staff needed to provide customer service.
- Customers have less chance of reaching a busy agent.
- Easy to use.
- May not be able to handle inbound calls with special requirements such as recording or transferring a caller to another department.
- May not be able to handle certain types of calls, such as credit card calls.
- May not be able to handle calls from many countries.
- Can handle customer interactions such as outbound sales, order entry, account enquiries, technical customer support, etc.
- Can provide real-time feedback to agents.
- Can handle calls that need to be transferred to another department.
- Less costly than using a software-enabled call centre.
- It cannot provide a satisfying customer experience when a caller doesn’t respond to the prompts.
- Difficult to use.
- Can handle customer interactions such as outbound sales, order entry, account enquiries, feedback support, etc.
- Can provide real-time feedback to agents.
- Can handle calls that need to be transferred to another department.
- More cost-effective than using a software-enabled call centre.
- It does not offer the ability to handle a customer’s interactions from a specific country.
- Difficult to use.
A software-enabled call centre is an excellent option to replace a call centre that employs human agents. It has the advantages of lower costs, greater flexibility and scalability.
It does not matter which type of automated call centre you choose, as long as it can provide customer service efficiently and effectively.
So why should you choose to automate your customer service calls?
Automated customer service call centres can save your company money by:
- Reducing the number of human resources needed to handle the number of calls received daily.
- Reducing the amount of time spent on the phone.
- Increasing the chance you will get through to a live customer support representative.
Automating your customer service can also help your business reach new markets and increase its profit margins. It can allow you to scale your business in new ways and provide new growth opportunities.
6 – Provide a 24/7 Live Chat Feature
We know that customer support is one of the most critical aspects of your business. For many businesses, the online presence is the main selling point, and they must ensure they provide an excellent customer experience. This means providing a 24/7 live chat feature for your customer support team. We say that because it helps you answer your customer’s questions immediately. In this day and age where people are constantly checking their phones or tablets, live chat is a great way to ensure they know they have a solution to their problem within seconds.
Provide Instant Access to Customer Service
To provide the best customer experience, you must give your customer service agents instant access to their customers. As soon as a user has a question or problem, they need to be able to get in touch with customer service and speak to someone trained and qualified to help them solve their problem.
Live chat allows you to answer their questions within seconds, not minutes or hours. This can mean the difference between a happy customer and a disgruntled one. If you have to put a customer through a frustrating wait time, they are less likely to return to your business and less likely to recommend you to their friends.
Enhance Customer Experience
If you are a business that sells a product or service to other businesses, then you are bound to get many customer service issues that you can’t resolve yourself.
As you are bound to get more customers than you can handle, you’ll want to ensure that your customer service staff are qualified and trained to help them solve their problems. It will ensure that your customer is always satisfied with how you handle their issue and will encourage them to return to your website and purchase your products.
Live Chat is a Great Way to Build Trust
One of the most important reasons a customer will purchase your products is your reputation. If a customer buys something from a business they have never heard of before, they will usually do their research before they purchase. This means they will check the reviews others have written about the company. When they find out about a negative review, they will be less likely to buy the product from that company.
Live Chat allows your customers to view the ratings and reviews of your company. With a live chat option, they can see that others have had a good experience with your business and will be more willing to purchase from you. They can even leave a rating and review of their own. This makes it easier for them to leave a positive reviews about your company on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
You’re Only Providing a Bad Customer Experience
When a customer is trying to place an order, they will almost certainly ask for your company to send them an email address so that they can get a hold of you if they have any queries. Many businesses will simply ignore these requests because they are busy and want to ensure they give their customers a good service.
This means they are leaving many potential sales on the table. Customers are less likely to return when they receive a rude or dismissive response. They are less likely to recommend your business to others when they return. It means you’re not giving your customers the best customer experience you can offer.
7 – Have an Open Door Policy
There is no such policy for any other service providers. For a company to offer services to its customers, they have to understand the importance of customer service and customer satisfaction. A company must listen to customers’ wants, provide customer support per the requirement, and provide what customers want.
But in this case, the companies face the problem of serving its customer in the most efficient manner possible.
An open door policy helps a customer to communicate his/her issue or complaint to the company’s representative. The representatives help the customers in the resolution of the issue. In the communication process, the company provides feedback to the customer, which helps improve the products and services provided by the company.
In a nutshell, the customer gets what they want and paid for.
Now the question arises what the customer expects from the company? The company must provide the correct type of service to the customer and ensure that the customer is satisfied.
Open Door Policy is based on the following three principles
- Customer Care
Customer service is offered to the customers, but the customers must not be bothered in the communication process.
The customer is not treated as an idiot, and the communication process is simple. It’s a process of understanding the problem or issue of the customer. And it involves understanding what exactly the customer wants and then resolving the issues.
8 – Utilise Videos
You need to make your customers understand their problems to relate to them. Videos play an important role in customer support as they help people to understand your product and services better than any other medium. Videos are a great way to create interest in your product and services. They also serve as a visual aid in case of any issue.
So, here are a few tips to make the best out of videos.
Keep it simple
Don’t try to over-explain your product and services, and keep the videos simple. The best way to make the video enjoyable is to show real-life examples of customers’ problems while using the product. Also, don’t talk too much about features and services as people do not like reading and listening about them. Instead, focus on the problem and how you can solve it. This way, people will connect with you better.
Know your audience
Do not make videos just for your customers. Try to get feedback from potential customers who could potentially buy your products. Make a list of customers’ most common issues while using your products and services. Then, use these common issues to create videos. It will give you an idea of what your customers need.
Record your videos
You must record your video and upload it on YouTube. If you don’t, no one will watch your video. Also, make sure that the quality of the video is good so that your customer will be able to watch it. Also, ensure you have provided a link to your video in your customer support email.
Use relevant images
Use images that match the theme of your customer support page. You can also add a watermark at the beginning of the video to be visible to all your customers. This way, people will know that the video belongs to your company.
Make sure that your video has a call to action
As you know, your customers must visit your company’s website to get in touch with you. So, you should include a call to action at the end of the video. For example, you can add a button that says “Submit a query”. Then, clicking the button will redirect the user to your company’s website.
9 – Let Your Customers Share Their Experiences
Letting your customers share their experiences through customer reviews on your website is a powerful way to improve your overall customer service. When your customers write a review, they tell other customers what they like and don’t like and how they found your services. In return, they are helping to build trust in your brand. A positive customer experience is one of the most critical factors of customer loyalty.
You can see what customers expect from you by reading customers’ reviews. You can then adapt your customer support strategies and services to match what your customers are looking for. You will be able to spot areas where you can improve your service and provide a better quality of products and services to your customers.
The following questions will help you decide whether your customers would benefit from writing reviews on your website:
- Do I receive regular customer feedback on what they think of my products and services?
- Would my customers be willing to review me on Google or another review website?
- Would they be willing to publish the reviews on my website?
- Would they be willing to provide specific details about their experiences?
- How do I encourage customers to write reviews on my website?
- Do my customers use social media to communicate with my company?
To encourage customers to write reviews on your website, you can ask them directly. You can also provide them with a unique link where they can share their experiences.
You can also offer special discounts to customers willing to share their experiences. For example, you can give them a discount on any other purchase they make from you.
Customer Reviews on Social Media
Social media provides an excellent opportunity for your customers to interact with you. You can create an online presence through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
However, it’s not all about posting and replying. You can interact with your customers and listen to their experiences with your products and services.
Here are some of the questions you can ask on social media:
- Do I have a Facebook page?
- Is there a Twitter account available for my brand?
- Are there customer ratings available for my products and services on Google?
- Can I send out tweets to my customers to see if they are willing to share their experiences with my company?
The answers to these questions will help you understand what kind of interactions your customers expect from you.
10 – Make it Easy to Leave Feedback
As Customer Service Agents, we need to understand why our customers visit our site/store, how they get there, and what they look for. If we can make it easy for them to leave feedback on our website or mobile app, we can give them a reason to return to us again and recommend us to others.
We also need to be clear that customer feedback will be kept anonymous and used only to help us improve our products and services.
We need to provide a quick, easy-to-use way for customers to leave feedback that must be consistent across all channels. For example, I would expect to be able to leave feedback through a contact form, via the website, and by text message on my mobile phone.
We also need to offer a way for customers to tell us why they gave us low ratings and make it easier for them to give us constructive feedback. This way, we can listen to our customers’ concerns and find ways to improve.
It’s essential to have a consistent set of procedures in place to ensure customer service is consistent. This ensures that your customers always know how to get help and will always be able to expect the same response when they contact you.
A quick online search for customer service best practices will turn up plenty of great resources. But to save you some time, here are the 10 top customer support best practices we believe every business should implement.
Read my blog post on the best practices for customer support, and get more tips to help you make your customer support team the best in the industry.