Customer support is the backbone of a successful business. It’s the difference between negative reviews and positive reviews and it can foster positive word of mouth, repeat clients, or cause bad customer experiences. Since customers are the backbone of any company, businesses must nurture their customers for a better competitive edge in the marketplace. That’s because a bad customer experience can cost businesses dearly.
According to research, 91% of unhappy customers will abandon a business without complaining after one poor customer experience. Further, 33% of consumers will walk away from a business if their customer experience lacks customization.
Do you know that 75% of the time, you’re distracted when you’re listening? That means you can only remember 50% of what someone said immediately after listening to them talk. And after an hour of conversation, we can only recall less than 20% of what was said. Thus, active listening is a crucial skill, especially in the workplace.
Active listening in customer support can elevate a mediocre customer experience into an exceptional one, and it can help customer support agents become more capable, confident, and productive team members.
In customer support, active listening involves focusing entirely on what a customer is saying, the words they’re using, what those words mean, and responding empathetically. Also, this comprises hearing their tone and acknowledging the power of their vocabulary.
However, this is more challenging for many customer support representatives to achieve over phone calls than face-to-face conversations. After all, a customer can’t see your gestures or expressions. But it’s crucial to have excellent active listening skills in customer support.
Active listening is a critical customer support skill because customers want to be heard and understood. However, when a customer calls up a business with a problem, it is amplified when they feel like the company doesn’t hear their concern. It’s a frustrating experience for those involved.
Angus Yang notes that customers want to receive insights. Active listening helps customer support reps get to the root of problems and queries. Also, it encourages customer support reps to treat customers as the unique individuals they’re. It fosters better communication, improves customer trust, and ultimately delivers an outstanding customer experience.
For better active listening in customer support:
- Focus on what a customer is saying instead of what you’ll say in response.
- If you can see them, focus on what a client isn’t saying—their body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
- Don’t interrupt the customer.
- Give the customer your maximum attention, and cut off all distractions; don’t multitask while dealing with customers.
- Make quick notes, but don’t let this distract you from what the customer is saying.
- Once in a while, repeat what the customer has said back to them to ensure you have the correct information and show them you’re attentive.
- Don’t take it personally when a client is angry. Most often, they want you to validate their frustrations before you can resolve their issue.
Active listening is especially critical where customers are angry, upset, and even being hostile. By asking follow-up questions, relaying back their information, and empathizing with their situation, you can make customers feel understood and cared for, ultimately leading to a positive customer experience.
2. Failing to Be Proactive
Have you ever received a pleasant surprise from a customer support team? Maybe you ordered a jacket online, only to find the online store didn’t have it in stock. Rather than issuing a refund, the customer support agent had the jacket shipped from another location and delivered to your home. Or maybe you and your family booked a flight, and because the airplane was under capacity, the flight attendant offered to change your seats so that the whole family could sit together.
These instances of pleasant surprises of added value are forms of proactive customer support. Being proactive improves customer retention and fosters customer delight.
Being proactive involves making the first step to help your clients before they feel the need to contact you for help. It may include making glitches and errors known before they occur, introducing new services or products that your customers like, or simply doing everything you can to deliver a better customer experience. Thus, proactive customer support focuses on anticipating and resolving customer problems.
Here’s how being proactive in customer support can benefit your business:
- Reduce customer tickets. By being proactive, companies can identify problems and solve them before they become issues, reducing the amount of customer support calls you receive. Research shows that customers are positive with proactive support. Nearly 87% of adults are happy to be contacted proactively by businesses concerning customer support issues.
- Gain new customers. Being proactive can help you find opportunities to contact potential customers and encourage them to do business with you.
- Keep existing customers. Proactively reaching out to customers can strengthen your relationship with them even when they haven’t mentioned your brand. With most customers turning to social media for support, you must move steps ahead to meet their customer support expectations.
- Create loyal advocates. Proactive customer support allows you to convert unhappy customers to delighted customers and convert them into brand advocates because 72% of consumers will share a positive customer experience with six or more people.
To offer a proactive customer experience:
- Make your brand available. This means much more than having a contact number on your site—it means being available across a wide range of communication mediums, such as email, social media, and phone. By enabling customers to contact you in their preferred channel, you’ll serve them more effectively.
- Help your clients to help them themselves. Enabling your customers to help themselves and solve their problems empowers them. For instance, this may include creating a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section or alerting your clients of existing issues they can troubleshoot by themselves via a step-by-step guide. Putting your clients first will improve your company’s reputation and, ultimately, improve your bottom line.
- Ask consumers for feedback. Customer support is about giving your customers what they want, but first, you must find out what they want, and the best way to do that is to ask them. Companies that frequently check in with their clients can quickly spot their areas of weakness and fix them before clients become unhappy. To collect customer feedback, include a feedback form on your site, interview your customers, ask them how your products or services can improve their lives, and check your social media messages for feedback on your products or services.
Being proactive in customer support isn’t about just keeping your customers happy. Still, it can also help you convert your customers into loyal brand advocates, which is a potent marketing tool that can help you scale your business.
3. Over-Promising Results
Keeping promises is crucial if you want to improve customer trust and scale your business. It should be your top priority. Although some companies that experience high customer turnover are complacent with delivering substandard work, most businesses can’t afford to operate that way. It can take years or even decades to build your credibility and one or two unhappy clients to water everything down. Be upfront about it if you can’t deliver a product within a specific time frame or by a certain date. If the customer needs to go elsewhere because you can’t meet their time limit, so be it.
In the long run, your honesty will bode well for your brand. For example, being honest by telling a customer that their timeline isn’t feasible shows them you’re dedicated to quality work, and you know how long it takes to accomplish it.
Further, in today’s digital space, if you over-promise and let your customers down, odds are everyone will hear about it. Customers are tech-savvy, and they won’t hesitate to post their frustrations and complaints on social media or review sites. If many negative reviews are posted on your pages, then your business risks losing potential clients before they even consider doing business with you.
Negative reviews are daunting to recover from, so your best option is to do everything you can to avoid them. This involves managing your client’s expectations upfront and always being honest. Never make your customers feel you promised them something so that you could get them to work with you. That’s because negative reviews come with unhappy customers.
Strong customer relationships are the backbone of any successful businesses, and when your actions result in unhappy customers, that can be a significant roadblock to business growth. Thus, if for any reason you can’t honor a deliverable, can’t meet an agreed-upon deadline, or have to go back on your word, then take responsibility for the situation. Call the customer immediately, give your reasons, and give them an updated fulfillment date by which you can realistically complete the project. Don’t pick an imaginary date and risk disappointing the customer a second time because that may cause you to lose their business completely.
Over-promising and under-delivering don’t just affect small companies; they can also hurt the reputation of big corporations. Thus, it’s best to find the right balance when it comes to making promises. Be realistic with your promises so you can under-promise and over-deliver every time. Also, be transparent about what you can and can’t do and develop a lasting relationship with your customers instead of pushing them away with empty promises.
Making customers happy and delivering excellent customer experiences is the key to a successful company. And, by avoiding the three customer support mistakes mentioned above, you can gain more loyal clients and positive word of mouth, which causes improved sales and credible reputation in the marketplace.
Leveraging customer support software, such as Zight (formerly CloudApp), you can deliver an outstanding customer experience. For instance, the customer support team at Buffer saves 24 hours per week while using Zight (formerly CloudApp) to eliminate customer frustrations. In addition, Buffer’s support team uses Zight (formerly CloudApp) to create personalized GIFs for customers as a ‘surprise and delight’ to show them how much they care.