Ensuring your business support is the best in your industry can sound like a lofty goal. But, if it wasn’t for loft goals, we would rarely try to achieve things above our station and to truly progress us to the next level. Someone very wise once said that if you aim for the stars, you’ll at least land on the clouds. Another wise individual once stated that if your boots aren’t too big for you, how can you ever expect to fill them. With this in mind, you might be considering just where your business should try to implement this go-getting and blooming mindset.
Support is the thing. Support is something you will need to take care of when selling your first product or service, and it is one of the considerations that can keep customers returning again and again if achieved successfully, even if their initial experience wasn’t as good as it could be. They say that a first impression can never be repeated, but great support surely opens you up for a second impression, to either compound the experience of the first or to replace it with something better entirely.
With the following advice, the support your business offers is sure to be something you’re proud of:
Your support is nothing if it’s not reachable and available when customers might need it. Of course, you shouldn’t be expected to have always-on phone lines, but there are measures you can take to help you adapt to an always-online, global world. For example, using social media dashboard suites can allow for messages to be sent through the instant messaging feature, allowing you to treat them as pending emails to some extent. This also means that an instant reply can be given much more frequently if they happen to catch a support representative correctly. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are starting to offer this functionality, and of course, a platform on all of these websites is essential if you’re hoping for maximum visibility in the first place.
There’s something quite essentially important about being able to respond to a case quickly, efficiently, and to ensure the lowest amount of red tape or hurdles will be involved when a specialist is trying to find the solution. But first, you must be aware of the ticket ordering system. Phone call queue orders, online ‘estimated time to connect to a specialist’ timers, and a range of other welcoming or apologetic pre-recorded or automatically posted messages can often help a customer feel less peeved if having to deal with a high call volume.
Low-Cost Or Free
Support should not be something that a customer has to pay for. Setting up a toll free number can ensure that anyone is able to contact your company. Of course, they will likely use minutes from their plan if calling, or an SMS message with their carrier, and if that’s the case you’ll need to fully display that in your disclaimer to avoid people misdirecting that annoyance at you.
Of course, people need to pay their internet bills, but overall, your online outreach should be completely free. This is not a service you conduct for a product, to sustain your bills, or for any reason like that. Customer support is a form of PR, perhaps one of the most pressing, regularly influencing forms of PR. Without it, you can expect customers to quickly wonder what they are paying for, or to review-bomb you with negative attention on all online business listing pages. In order to ensure a high degree of frequent competence, consider:
Your customers aren’t the only people you should be interested in helping during your support efforts. Your staff is the people who deliver this support, day after day, week after week, and year after year. This means anything you can do to make their job easier is often a worthwhile one. Customer accounts are that first step. Requiring customers to make an account registered to a verifiable email address is important, but it’s better if this is the foundation of your entire website interaction rather than a simple request for the support side of your website. This way you’ll be able to track orders, have them tie their information, log-in IP’s and a range of other identifiable markets that help their customer ID stand in a unique manner. Of course, if collecting this information, you must have them sign a full disclaimer in their account opening that tells them what you’re to do with the data, how support might use it, and their rights if wishing to close an account or summon what data you have on them.
Back to the support staff. A staff member looking through this unique customer ID will be able to get to the heart of the claim much more quickly. They might be able to verify the claims that a customer is making. For example, if a replacement item was received or not, or if they have made this claim before. Also, customer accounts can bring with them immediate small benefits in order to satiate the annoyance of a customer. For example, have they had to wait on the phone for over three hours before anyone managed to answer and deal with their support request? An extra week or two of your free delivery or premium discount service could soothe that pain a little.
If you run your website with any form of utility such as product listings, service bookings or a range of other functionalities, it is essential to ensure customer accounts aren’t an afterthought.
Treating Customers With Respect
Treating customers with respect is of course essential. You likely don’t come to find online advice to learn something as basic as that. However, there are elements of respect that can be important to clearly lay out in your staff guidance. For example, not all members of the public will be fully able to understand your business online or support architecture. They might not know the split between specialists and departments, how long it might take to resolve an issue or the power of an immediate support specialist. They are simply calling with an issue.
It is your job to never patronize them. Some might not understand the issue they are having or how to articulate it, and it’s your job to slowly, respectfully, coax it out of them. Some might not be able to communicate as clearly as you’d like or have a heavy accent that can sound difficult over the phone, or a range of other small problems that might cause contention if not handled well. This is why respect for the customer should overshadow everything. Teach patients to your support staff above all things. This should be clearly laid out in your staff training and policy they have easy access to.
However, staff should also be extended this courtesy. If continually contacted by the same customer despite the issue being resolved, they should be able to transfer that to a higher-up, or close the case and fill out a report as to why. If spoken to with profanity, venom or disrespect, they should also be able to terminate the call or support request. The supported functionality should always be there, but it should work in two directions, and be mutually supportive both ways. Do not expect your staff to wade through the muck thrown at them, they have enough on their plate already. This will enhance their motivation and willingness to help the respectful customers.
A Goal Response Time
Of course, businesses often run on goals. These might serve as hard and fast parameters, or they might simply serve as custom guidelines. It is important to set some of these regarding your goal response time. Of course, requiring each staff member to respond in two minutes might not be appropriate. But let’s say each support query should have a goal solution time of around 3-5 minutes. This way, many can be solved in an hour. If they go over, they go over. If they don’t, they don’t. But your staff must always be looking to aim for that. This helps them avoid conjecture when giving advice, motivates them to get to the heart of the issue, and allows the customer to feel like their question has been dealt with correctly.
However, a customer dealt with well is always, always, always better than a customer dealt with quickly. Do not penalize your staff for taking a decent amount of time to settle the woes of an annoyed customer. It could lead to a lifetime of further purchasing. So, instead of measuring average response time or call duration, you might have auto-generated emails sent to them afterward, politely asking the customer how the support specialist did. A rating from 1-10 can often help build an average over the years, as well as a notes section to provide further context.
With these tips, ensuring your business support is the best in your industry is all but assured.