Customer service is one of the most powerful factors that affects loyalty and sales. Providing great customer support might seem easy in theory, but it is actually pretty challenging in practice.
Each customer you interact with is different. Emails they get might be the only method of communication they have with your company. And while it is a daily routine for your support team, receiving a response from you is a unique experience for customers, which determines whether they will continue buying from you.
So if you don’t want to lose your customers and your money (as companies lose approximately €50 billion due to poor customer support), your clients’ satisfaction should be your number one priority.
1. Give clear instructions about what the customer should text to you.
Texting should be more than just easy; it should be efficient. To make a short, rapid exchange with a customer work, your texts should tell the customer exactly what to do next, what kind of information to supply, and how to supply it.
2. Avoid service clichés
“Please come again!”
“Thank you for your business”
Many companies use them to sound professional, but in reality, they just sound cold and fake and will, unfortunately, make people think you’re more robot than human.
Instead of using these cliché phrases, you should aim to sound warm and genuine by talking like an actual person. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figures of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Customer service should follow the same rule.
Customers want to feel like they are conversing with a real human who is actively listening to them. When you resort to clichés, they feel like you are on automatic. Ditch the clichés and talk like a person.
3. Use a polite, friendly, upbeat tone.
The tone of the texts we exchange with friends and family can be silly, sarcastic, angry, even sexy. But the texts companies write to customers should have a business-appropriate tone as well as a text-appropriate tone.
Finding this tone balance isn’t always easy. A business-appropriate tone may sound too stuffy in a text. For example, no one would text a customer “As per our recent conversation…” And a text-appropriate tone may sound unprofessional. No business would text a customer “Whazzup? Sry yr order is late…”
So how should companies find the right tone balance? Their texts should be polite and upbeat. Energetic texts that have a let’s-get-things-done tone connect well with customers.
For example, here are company’s text request for customers to complete a satisfaction survey, plus two follow-up texts.
- Please reply 1-10 to show how likely you would be to recommend our business to someone you know.
- [for low scores] Sorry to hear that we haven’t provided the level of support you deserve. Please tell us how we can improve to serve you better in the future.
- [for high scores] Thanks for the great rating! We’d love to have you rate us on www.capterra.com.
What’s polite and upbeat about the tone of these texts?
- They use courteous language without sounding stiff: “Sorry to hear…” and “Please tell us…”
- The writing conveys energy: “Thanks for the great rating! We’d love to have you…”
- The personal pronouns help the company connect. The texts use our, you, we, us, which helps the writing sound friendly.
4. Understand the Customer
When you’re reading the messages that your customer has sent you, it’s crucial that you’re actually reading the message they’ve sent you, rather than simply skimming over it. By skimming, you may miss a vital part of information that results in your trying to resolve something that the customer doesn’t want resolved.
Before you take any action, or even reply to your customer, make sure you’re fully aware of what they are talking about, which leads us nicely to point number four…
5. Explain why
There are few things more frustrating in customer service than an unexplained “please wait”. Your customer will feel left out and ignored.
The good news is that giving a reason for why you’re asking them to wait or just explaining what you are doing and why will make the customer much more patient and satisfied with their experience. Customers are much more likely to be accommodating if you are transparent with them.
An interesting Harvard study shows just how important transparency is. In it, researchers tried to cut in line at a copy machine with one of three lines:
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Canon machine?” 60% of the people agreed.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Canon machine because I have to make some copies?” 93% agreed.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. Could I use the Canon machine because I am in a rush?” 94% agreed.
The reason is not always so important, but having a reason is.
Although you want to be efficient in your customer service, take a little time and explain to your customers what is going on. It can make all the difference for them.
6. Write Naturally
When writing to customers, remember that you’re not writing an academic essay – you’re writing to another person.
People look for conversation, not business jargon. To ensure you come across as friendly and approachable, maintain a conversational tone. People prefer to be addressed this way because it helps them to process the information.
When reading through an academic article, I often find myself having to re-read sentences to capture the meaning – which makes me feel like I’m not smart enough for the content. That’s not how you want to make your customers feel.
Your objective is to make people feel relaxed and reassured. When you write conversationally, they feel as if they are being spoken to, not lectured.
7. Break up long stories
Chatting is fun because it’s quick and easy consumable. The same should go for your customer support via live chat. Instead of writing a lengthy paragraph including all solution steps, it’s better to press enter after one or two sentences:
“OK, I'll explain”
“To upgrade you first have to go to your dashboard.”
This way you are engaging your customer in a conversation rather than overloading her with too much information.
Another bonus of breaking up your thoughts in small bites: The customer can intervene when she notices that you're talking about apples, while she meant pears. The conversation can be redirected by a quick “That’s actually not what I meant.”
8. Laugh with your customer
For your customers, live chat is a fun and safe medium to converse. This doesn’t change when they are chatting with a company. It’s possible that cheerful customers will come up with a well-meant joke or pun. And the natural response is laughing, of course.
A happy image or “Haha” strengthens the bond with your customers and ensures they walk away with a positive vibe around your brand. While your live chat agents are not advised to turn into laughter-seeking clowns, there is space for rolling along with the customer’s jokes .