Buffer’s 5 Components of Customer Care

Darcy shared with CloudApp a few of Buffer’s Customer Support tips.

Zight | May 12, 2017 | 5 min read time

Article Last Updated: June 28, 2023

Buffer’s 5 Components of Customer Care

Everyone’s favorite social media productivity tool, Buffer, came to hang out at Zight (formerly CloudApp) HQ (via webinar) where we got the chance to learn a lot from Darcy Peters, Buffer’s happiness lead. Darcy’s job is just that – to ensure that her team of Happiness Heroes keeps Buffer customers happy,“surprised and delighted.”

Buffer goes above and beyond in customer care and perhaps what sets them apart from the pack is their honesty, lack of ego, and true transparency with their customers.

Darcy shared with the Zight (formerly CloudApp) community a few of Buffer’s 5 must-do components of great customer care.

1. Positivity

As Darcy explains “positivity doesn’t mean forced optimism.” In this case, positivity means empathy and matching a customer’s tone. If you get an angry email from a customer and your reply is filled with emojis and exclamation marks, you aren’t meeting the customer where they are in the moment. Sure, you might know that you’ll be able to resolve the problem, but you want to mirror the customer’s tone in your reply. This means pulling back on the fluff, the smileys, and instead be straightforward and nurturing.

Lowering the intensity of your optimism is a bigtip that can help your future interactions with clients – and keep it real without disappointment. A great example of this Darcy shared: many customer support teams want to promise the moon and the stars and say “this will be resolved this afternoon” when in actuality the engineers had something else in mind. This puts the customer support agent in the awkward position of having to go back on their word and apologize, breeching customer trust.

Matching customer tone and lowering the intensity of your optimism will help you not just resolve issues, but keep customers happy for a long time.

2. Transparency

You owe it to your customers to say “no”.

The truth is you can’t say “yes” to something you can’t guarantee and let the customer down later.

Darcy suggests focusing on what you know for certain can be fixed, or making promises that you can keep (i.e. I’ll meet with the engineers and update you).

Another way Darcy and her Happiness Heroes practice transparency is by listening to the needs of the people who contact them. From time to time, people will ask for features that are outside of what their product offers. Instead of offering alternative work arounds, sometime referring potential clients to competitors if there’s another company that suits their needs better, can be the best way to go. While this sounds counter-productive it’s a great way to build trust and potentially work with them in the future or on their secondary needs.

In a nutshell, transparency delights and surprises customers.

Buffer’s team

3. Humility

Move your ego out of the way, because the first question Darcy wants you to ask yourself is, ”was it your fault?”

Start my not only recognizing that it is your fault (when it is) and apologize, but also recognize how is it your fault.

Did you give bad information? Was there a bug in the system? Apologize to the customer and explain to them what happened. Recognizing your role will show that you care, you heard them, and that you’re working on resolving it.

As Darcy points out: there is no such thing as a user error. If a customer uses a feature in a way that the feature was not intended, the issue is internal. It means that either the user flow was not working properly or the feature needs tweaking.That in no way is the customer’s fault.

4. Exceptional Care

Understanding what the customer’s expectations are is critical if you’re going to aim to surprise and delight them – and at Buffer, that’s the goal every, single time.

In Buffer’s case, customers expect them to publish and schedule social media posts in a reasonable amount of time. But the idea here is to go above and beyond whenever possible.

Not too long ago, Darcy spoke with a customer on a free trial who commented that he would have to check out Buffer analytics tool from his phone since he was traveling during the trial period.. Instead of letting that opportunity slide, Darcy extended his free trial so he wouldn’t have to worry about checking analytics while traveling. Talk about a serious win for Buffer and the customer.

At the end of the day, customer care reps have to focus on doing the right thing. And as Darcy points out, if something just doesn’t feel “right”,talk to your team lead about how you can work that in if there’s no protocol in place to guide you.

5. Productivity

The root of productivity starts with clarity for the customer.

When explaining something to a customer, Darcy suggests that you use your judgment to decide if a customer will benefit from more or less explanation.

Reinforcing emails with visuals helps cut down on time and aids in customer clarity. Adding webcam video allows the customer to not just hear you, but see you and connect with you. In Darcy’s experience, some customers loved the videos so much they even send video responses back.

In fact, 40% of Darcy’s emails include Zight (formerly CloudApp) links to some sort of GIF, visual or video. Because of this, she saves a full minute and 25 seconds with video when helping a customer, and Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s annotation tool helps her save a minute and eighteen seconds. All of which means more time to help another customer, and every minute counts.

Customer support isn’t an imposition. Darcy and her team of Happiness Heroes remind us that your customers are doing you a favor, by giving you a chance to fix your product issues and are fighting to work with you. The fact that they are reaching out means that they are fighting for your product so they can get back to using the product. If they didn’t care, they would just move on. Instead they want to work with you.

The support team’s job is to make it the best decision they’ve made all year.

Watch the full webinar:

YouTube video


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