Customer Service Complaints on Social Media Gone Wrong

So someone made a mistake and responded poorly to a customer’s complaint on Social Media. What will you be able to do to make things right? Is fixing it even possible?

Crisis Management for Service Complaints

Today, complaints are received through social media and traditional channels. And as a result, it’s harder than ever to step in and help the customer.

Of course, it’s still the human’s duty to respond and as a service provider, it’s your responsibility to help the customer. Of course, unless there is legal liability, doing so is also generally beneficial to the brand.

Since your customers are likely shocked at being criticized online, you’ll want to start your mitigation strategy well in advance. Don’t forget to include information about rescheduling your phone call or meeting the person personally. In fact, sometimes you’ll want to reach out through social media. If you can only resolve it by tweeting, perhaps it’s time to tweet out the inquiry to the company at your name for their sake and to your satisfaction.

When You Won’t Even Be Able to Say No

When a customer does reach out on social media and you can’t help them, you might be able to solve it with professionalism.

So how can you support them when you’re not even able to get in touch? From here, there are some steps you can take to resolve their problem.

The first is to respond quickly. If you can find out who wrote it, the second option is to handle the problem internally if possible. Finally, it may be time to consider taking the situation to a customer service manager who is knowledgeable in this exact area.

Mistakes Can Happen

This is a huge misconception when it comes to customer service. As a matter of fact, mistakes can happen all the time with customer service and you won’t be able to avoid them. But the fact is, they can be avoided to a degree and this is why it’s worth taking a look at what else can be done when a customer service complaint is called out.

Manage the Relationship

The first step is to simply apologize. You can also show them that you take their problem seriously. Understand where the issue occurred and then talk about what you can do to resolve it. It’s a good idea to address the issue with the customer as soon as possible. If you can find out who it is who brought it up, you can address it quickly as well. Do Your Homework

Once you’ve addressed the problem, it’s time to research the issue. You may not be able to fix the problem immediately.

Taking time to research the issue will show the customer you have a good idea of what you’re dealing with.

Listen

When the customer realizes how much effort went into addressing their concern, it will be hard for them to walk away. They’ll feel like you got their problem resolved. Remember, you should never try to resolve the situation unless you can. So keeping your word is a good idea.

It’s not a Guarantee

There are chances that you may not be able to resolve your customer’s issue easily, especially if it is outside your job description. This is why it’s so important to reach out to a customer service manager when this happens.

As a matter of fact, customer service managers can even save you from making common mistakes. When you do reach out, they’ll be able to handle things more professionally than you could. Keep in mind, handling a social media complaint is not a one-time deal. So, always remember to keep in mind the above steps to handle a customer service complaint.

Discount

Taking care of the customer is more than just writing a review, taking a picture of the issue, or offering a discount. Treating a customer well means ensuring they’re satisfied.

Therefore, don’t just send a message to them but instead take the extra step of having a face-to-face meeting with them. Or even better, get a dedicated counselor to help them on their own. It won’t cost you anything to set it up for the service managers to handle it. That way you can deal with the problem before it escalates.

One Tip

As a business owner, you’re in charge of keeping the company afloat. However, you also must remember to treat your customer s with respect and dignity.

Disrespecting them, speaking poorly about them, or alluding to their problems will not reflect well on your business. In other words, treat your customer s as you want to be treated. Do not underestimate them or make them feel like you are treating them with contempt. But if you truly want to win their business, don’t make them feel like that.

Supportbench unifies customer support, success, experience, knowledge management, and account management into one simple platform. Do more, with less, to maximize your retention.

Ready to provide excellent customer support? Contact us today!

Leveraging the Power of Proactive Customer Service

Supportbench unifies customer support, success, experience, knowledge management, and account management into one simple platform
The first step in resolving any customer service complaint is to set up a relationship with the company. If your company employees are always calling, emailing, or texting complaining customers, their relationship with you isn’t ideal.

They’re the only ones who know your company’s standard and want to make your business an easy place to work. The first step to fixing a customer ‘s relationship with your company is establishing a relationship and asking questions.

1. Set up a system to investigate complaints.

Make sure that your company is taking the time to set up a complaint investigation process and make sure you have a system in place to hand it out to customers when they call in a complaint. The complainant and the first party will be the focus, but as a business owner, your company must be on the same page.

Use different timelines for different parts of the investigation. For example, if a complaint is called in at 1 p.m. and you’re still late to the office at 6 p.m., they may still get support from you. “Set up a system for monitoring actions you take to make complaints less likely to occur in the future,” says Michael Schneier, Head of Operations at Hilliard Brands Group. “This allows you to take proactive steps to address issues in a timely manner to make those complaints less likely to occur in the future. ”

Take notes of what your employees are doing, and reference the written procedures that specify when and how they will respond to customers who have issues. In addition, find ways to assist the complainant and make sure that they have a voice in the decision-making process.

Take notes of what does and doesn’t sit right with a company representative.

2. Stand behind your IT systems and procedures.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: IT should be the first line of defense for your company. Your IT department should be aware of everything that you are doing to your customer service infrastructure. “To the extent that your IT is present and helpfully supporting your company , your customers will hopefully be benefiting,” says Jason Park, Director of Operations at Freshness Software, a provider of software solutions.

3. Track complaints internally.

The same goes for customers. They need to be aware of any problems they have with the customer service process. This will be the first step in resolving the customer’s relationship with your company. Locate the complaints that your customers have to go through and track what happens within the system, according to Park.

When your business is ready to address the complaints, the issue can be identified, either as “happy-hour” or “problem-solving” depending on how the customer does their job, say the experts.

Do this before you write any notes or recommendations to your manager.

4. Respond quickly.

If you don’t find your customers’ problems solved within the first 24 hours after receiving a complaint, you’ll need to be fast to solve the issue. There’s nothing more annoying than waiting several days for help to arrive or when they appear to be receiving a lot of complaints. These excuses will generally be unfounded, and if a customer can’t be right all the time, they’ll turn to you.

5. Show your understanding.

If your customers keep complaining and the brand doesn’t understand their concerns, or even tries to hide them, your customers aren’t likely to keep coming back. Some companies don’t share their real feelings when dealing with customers, but your company should do so. If they don’t, you should respond to them often and without the need for intermediaries. If a customer does call your company in a complaint, let them know the truth.

Even if they feel helpless, they can still voice a concern and you will hear back.

6. Refer questions to other departments.

If a company starts to have issues with their customer service, consider outsourcing some of the skills they’re hiring as employees. You should also get help from other departments that can help you develop an appropriate response for customers.

7. Be transparent about situations.

When a company gets ready to fix the same issues with their customers, it’s important to give them some time to react and test their processes. They’ll likely have a lengthy message to send, so it’s important to notify them as soon as they have their first feedback.

Supportbench unifies customer support, success, experience, knowledge management, and account management into one simple platform. Do more, with less, to maximize your retention.

Ready to provide excellent customer support? Contact us today!

7 Skills that Every Customer Service Rep Should Have

A customer service representative might not be immediately good at his job, especially when he has no previous experience dealing with customers. It’s a good thing that customer service skills can be developed, with proper training and guidance you can have an outstanding customer service team that you’ll be proud of.
When conducting training for your team, here are 10 essential skills that they should learn to become successful in their role

1. Be Attentive

To know the real concern of a customer, a representative should have the ability to truly listen. This can only be done by paying attention. Some customers don’t say their problems outright so a rep should be able to pick up on what they are telling without directly saying it.

For example, a client may say, “Your website design is confusing,” instead of asking for help to find a certain feature, like the search tab.

Keep their feedback into consideration but by asking the right questions you would able to give the assistance that they need.

2. Patience

Patience is one of the most crucial skills that a customer service professional needs. It is not uncommon to encounter customers who feel overwhelmed and confused. Customers need your support rep to be patient to alleviate their frustration.

There is a tendency for customers to lay all their frustrations on the customer service representative. A good rep should not take this personally, instead he should listen to the grievances of the customer, take the time to listen and fully understand why the customer is acting that way.

When customers feel that they are being listened to, not only will the rep be able to address their concerns, the good service of the rep will also be instrumental in building a good relationship between customers and the company.

3. Communicate clearly

Miscommunication can be a big problem that is why it’s important to be mindful of how some of your communication habits translate to customers. Err on the side of caution whenever you find yourself uncertain about a situation.

It is best to uncomplicate how you explain things to customers and make sure that they understood your explanation before you end your conversation with them. You can do this by a quick summary of the problem and the suggested solution or by asking them if they have any more questions regarding their concern.

4. Become knowledgeable of the product

It is imperative for a customer service professional to understand how their company’s product or service works. It would be difficult to give assistance on something that you know nothing about. Knowing a product inside and out will help reps address customer issues when they run into problems.

When customers are assisted to navigate the most complex situations, they become your company’s strongest advocate.

5. Using positive language

Language is a crucial part of persuasion and as a representative of the company, your message will affect how customers view the company’s reputation. Your language can be a basis of people’s perception of you and the company you represent.

It isn’t just the tone of your voice that can express the cheerfulness or positivity of your message. Your choice of words, how you phrase them, can also matter significantly.

Here’s a difference between a message with and without a positive message:

Without positive language: “I’m sorry but the perfume you are looking for is out of stock. It is backordered and will be available next month.”

With positive language: “I’m sorry but the perfume you are looking for is currently out of stock however I can place the order for you right now and once we have it in our warehouse, we’ll make sure to deliver it to you.”

None of those messages are negative per se, but with a few adjustments, you were able to provide a solution for what the clients is looking for.

6. Time management skills

As mentioned before, it is important to be patient and spend some time listening to what the customer’s concern really is, however, spending too much time talking, can be wasteful not only of your time but also the customer’s.

While it is encouraged to be patient, it is also imperative to be efficient, especially when you have more than one inquiry lined up.

There might be times when a customer asks you a question that you do not know the answer to even after searching for it in your databases, it is better if you escalate the call to someone more knowledgeable about the issue on hand. You might end wasting a lot of time that you could’ve used to assist other customers who also have concerns.

7. Ability to handle surprises

We know that in life everything does not always go according to plan. Same goes for customer service-related problems, sometimes you get surprised with questions or issues that you have no answer to.

Keeping calm and having your wits about is the best way to deal with situation like these. Accept that you are not all-knowing and that from time to time you really have to ask for assistance from others.

While this is probably the most general skill on this list, being able to handle surprises is one of the most important. After all, eagerness to learn is the basis for growing your skills as a customer service professional.

Supportbench unifies customer support, success, experience, knowledge management, and account management into one simple platform. Do more, with less, to maximize your retention.

Ready to provide excellent customer support? Contact us today!

The future of customer support

Customer support was once confined to in-person, one-on-one interactions. It has come a long way since then, and there is more to come on the horizon.

With the advent of technology such as bots, artificial intelligence (AI), and much more, customers support will transform significantly over the next few years. Gartner predicted that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement.

The technology that will transform customer support is already all around us. Let’s take a look at the technologies that will help pave the way for the future of customer support.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI takes massive amounts of data from multiple touch points, filters, analyzes, and ultimately learns from the information. AI does all that with two capabilities:

1. Machine learning

is how AI learns from data. It processes mountains of data to learn from it. Everyday applications of AI include spam email folders and Facebook suggestions.

2. Natural language processing (NLP)

is AI’s ability to understand, process, and interpret both spoken and written speech. Some examples of well-known NLP applications are Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa.

AI is the best student because it never stops learning; it only gets smarter the more data it’s given. This technology will help enhance customer support because it takes all that data (previous interactions, saved preferences, etc.) to paint a complete and cohesive understanding of what the customer wants, needs, and expects. With this deeper understanding, AI will help businesses anticipate, predict, and better cater to their customers’ needs. 32% of executives believe that AI will help guide their sales, marketing, or customer service functions by 2020.

 

Chatbots

Chatbots marry AI’s machine learning and NLP together in an instant, personalized experience for your customers. They’re logic technology wrapped up in a conversational user interface. Everyday examples of bots are iMessage or Facebook Messenger.

A lot of the same issues often come up and as a result, support agents spend a lot of their time repeating answers to common questions – bots can help automate this process, enabling agents to focus on more complex support issues. 79% of support agents feel they have a bigger impact when chatbots take on the easy questions.

Customers these days seek support on multiple channels. The challenge for businesses to to provide an omnichannel support system and meet customers at each touch point, ready to help. More and more businesses have been building chatbots into their messaging platforms. Chatbots combine data and the machine learning of AI and uses data to deliver a personalized experience when their customers reach out for support. Research has found that chatbots messages have a high response rate; private messages sent by businesses have a 96% response rate.

Chatbots benefits

    • 24/7 support. They’re always on, allowing you to offer around the clock support
    • Scalable support. Even the fastest agents can only help one customer at a time, but with bots, you can automate responses for mass simple inquiries.
    • Reduced costs. You also save on the costs of hiring and training more agents as you grow.

While chatbots are not able to tackle the more complicated support issues, the technology can be taught to escalate cases that require a live agent’s help.

 

Self-service support

Customer now expect more self-service options like a knowledge base when they reach out for support.

Self-service support is brilliant because it reduces your operating costs (customers are enabled to find answers themselves), as well as provide a method that meets your customers’ evolving expectations of support. These days, customers want to figure it out themselves; 72% of millennials feel that calling support isn’t the best way to resolve their issue.

 

Face-to-face support

Big brands and industry-leading companies such as Amazon have started providing webcam-facilitated support.

Amazon launched a Mayday button on their Kindle Fire tablets and phones that connects users and support agent with webcams. Among tablet owners, 75% of customer service interactions come from the button, and the average response time is 9.75 seconds.

A common misnomer is that machines will replace humans but that’s not the case. These new technologies automate mundane, routine tasks, which frees up your support agents to concentrate on finding the answers to the customers’ issues quickly, delivering the most value to your customers. Customer support is primed to become one of the main competitive advantages in winning customers’ businesses and new technology will help businesses get there.

Ready to provide excellent customer support? Contact us today!

What does a customer support agent do?

Rarely is a role one-note, and a customer support agent is no exception. Customer support agents don’t only provide support. This role is nuanced with various duties and functions that an agent is responsible. From providing support to cross-selling to providing valuable feedback, the customer support agent wears many hats.

Awesome support agents are crucial to providing your customers with an excellent customer experience. Below are five jobs a customer support agent is typically responsible for.

1. RESOLVING ISSUES

First and foremost, a customer support agent is responsible for resolving issues. That is what the bulk of the role will entail. Agents are reactive in that the response when customers reach out for help, as opposed to the proactive nature of customer success agents.

When customers are reaching out, it’s because they have a problem or issue they need to be resolved. It’s not uncommon for agents to deal with irate customers, so resolving issues require customer support agents to use tact and exercise patience.

On top of providing efficient and effective support, agents have to be fast. Customers these days expect fast service and will give their money to the companies that can provide that speed.

2. CROSS-SELLING

While customer support agents are not a part of the sales department, there are a plethora of sales opportunities that fall under the domain of a customer support agent.

Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase related or complementary products or services.

Because agents are perfectly positioned to know what customers want and more importantly, need, they have a prime opportunity to suggest other products or services that a customer may benefit from.

But it has to be done right so that the customer doesn’t feel that you’re trying to squeeze more money from them. By getting to know the customers’ pain points, your agents will be able to organically but strategically make product recommendations that provide the most value and deepen relationships with customers.

3. EDUCATING CUSTOMERS

Customer support agents not only resolve issues, they have to educate customers on what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it.

This includes distilling complex technical information into digestible, clear instructions that help customers resolve their issues quickly. This can also mean crafting comprehensive, well-structured knowledge base articles to cater to customers who prefer self-service support.

4. PROVIDING FEEDBACK

Your customers support agents are on the front lines every day. This means that they have a direct line of sight into what customers are struggling with.

This means that they can provide invaluable insight. Customer support agents can flag bugs, identifying gaps in both internal workflows, external procedures, and recommending solutions on how to improve the product or service.

5. RETAINING CUSTOMERS

Finally, customer support agents also actively prevent customer churn.

When support agents interact with customers, it’s because customer have a problem or issue that needs resolving. Sometimes, customers can get frustrated enough that they consider cancelling their services.

So it’s up to customer support agents to not only resolve the issue but to do so in a way that turns the bad experience into one that will make the customer reconsider leaving.

This takes an intricate mix of fast response time, active listening, empathy, exceeding customer expectations, and efficient resolution.

It’s a such a crucial job to ensure that customers have a memorable support experience because it’s not only what will retain customers in danger of leaving but also turn them into brand advocates.

Customer support agents do a lot. They are professional multi-taskers, often juggling many cases and roles at once. Their jobs are extremely dynamic, and as always, it boils down to how agents can provide customers with the best possible experience.

Ready to provide excellent customer support. Contact us today!

5 ways to use data to improve customer support

Customer support has come a long way. Technology has made interactions with customers more accessible and automated. With these advancements in technology comes the opportunity to gather information that helps you understand the needs of your customers and makes it easier to better support them. There is valuable insight that you can obtain from each customer interaction. Here are five ways that you can use data to improve your customer support.

Get to know your customers

In today’s day and age, customers expect fast, personalized, and efficient service. So it’s not enough to just gather customer data from your interactions, you need to use it to improve your customer experience – and to do that you need to understand what your customers need.

To better understand what your customers need, you need to understand how your customers interact with you and gather data at each touch point. You can then use data you’ve gathered to identify patterns, segment your customer base, determine preferred channels, and more. The more information you have about your customers, the easier you will be able to understand how to cater to their needs, better support them, and ultimately turn them into happy advocates of your brand.

Improve processes

With data, you can learn track your agents’ performances and identify potential bottlenecks in your processes. More than 90% of customers say that customer service is key in who they give their business to so it’s crucial to improve your customer support processes so customers have a great experience. To gather data that can help you improve, look at data such as:

  • Response rates
  • Hold times
  • Abandonment rates
  • Resolution times
  • Reasons for reaching out

Customer satisfaction surveys can also help you to uncover insights on which internal processes are working and which are not.

The data might identify patterns and reveal processes that you didn’t even know needed improvement. For example, if you find that a lot of customers are reaching out about the same issue, you may want to create knowledge base articles to encourage self-service support.

Personalize the experience

While there are less one-to-one interactions in modern customer support, customers today still expect personalization, and analytics can help you provide it.

Once you use data to gain a firm understanding of your customers, you can determine the best way to deliver that personalized experience.

Data can help you anticipate your customers’ needs when they reach out for support. You can better assess and predict which additional services or value-add offerings to recommend to a customer based on their previous purchases and activities.

Personalizing the customer experience will help increase customer retention and strengthen customer loyalty.

Supportbench offer omnichannel icons image

 

Provide an omnichannel experience

Customers typically encounter a lot of friction when they reach out for support. Customers do not care how your company is structured or departments are set up – all they care about is the quickest way to resolve their issue and how seamless the experience is. In other words, they want an omnichannel support experience.

It’s valuable to look at all of the customer touch points as it provides a more holistic look into their interactions with your company. Customers these days reach out to companies over multiple channels and expect one seamless interaction. With the data of a customer’s previous interactions, your agents are better equipped to field questions and resolve issues faster.

Support these days has to be multi-channel. Some of your customers may prefer traditional phone support, while others may prefer live chat, email, or even social media. While it’s not feasible to offer every support channel under the sun, it’s important to use data to determine which channels your customer uses. And then in order to provide omnichannel support, you need to keep your support channels equally efficient.

Provide faster support

Customers these days expect speedy service – especially if they need help with a product or service. Fast responses to complaints on social media can increase customer advocacy up to 25%.

Use data to calculate response times across multiple channels and determine which channels have areas for improvement. You can also determine times of peak traffic and staff accordingly to ensure there are no bottlenecks or delays.

Gathering data, interpreting it, and actioning on your data and analytics will help you improve your customer support to stand out from your competition and keep your customers happy.

Ready to provide excellent customer support? Get in touch with us today!

Customer service as a competitive advantage

A company’s competitive advantages are typically their price points or product offerings, but another aspect of the business that has the ability to get a company a significant competitive boost is customer service.

Customer service is generally considered reactive – a customer reaches out because they need help or have questions. Great customer service has the potential to convince your existing customers to stay and even refer their family and friends, expanding your customer base.

Customer service done right has the power to increase brand loyalty, customer advocacy, and increased revenue. 86% of customers say that they would pay more for a better customer experience.

In today’s competitive and crowded market, it’s not enough to have a good product, you need to have great customer service as well to stand out.

These days, there are so many choices to choose from that customers often suffer from decision fatigue. To differentiate yourself from competitors, you have gain customers’ loyalties and turn them into advocates of your brand.

There are typically three types of loyalty; a combination of all three will produce strong loyalties to your brand:

1. Behavioral loyalty

The customer is loyal primarily out of convenience (i.e. proximity or price).

2. Rational loyalty

The customer is loyal as long as the brand provides the most value (i.e. loyalty programs, discounts).

3. Emotional loyalty

The customer is loyal because of a preference or attachment to the brand (i.e. the brand resonates with the customer’s own personal values or aspirations).

behavioral rational emotional loyalty

While all three types are important, an emotional bond is crucial for customers to form strong brand attachments. Customer experience is largely emotional, with 70% of purchasing experiences are based on how the customer feels like they’re being treated.

According to Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions, there are eight main positive/negative emotions that drive responses: sadness and joy, disgust and trust, anger and fear, as well as surprise and anticipation. Loyalty is more easily gained if you can invoke a positive emotion from your customer. According to CustomerThink, 74% of customers with positive emotions will become advocates, while 63% will remain customers.

Customer loyalty and brand advocacy are extremely important to a company.

Just as a great customer experience can encourage loyalty (a 5% increase in customer retention has been shown to increase revenues by up to 95%), a bad experience can exponentially damage your brand – especially in this digital age of social media. Customers who have a negative experience are two times more likely to share their experience than those who had positive ones

So great customer service can give your brand a competitive advantage, but how do you go about providing great customer service? Below are a few tips:

  • Anticipate customers needs
  • Provide a seamless experience (omnichannel support)
  • Be available 24/7 and respond quickly
  • Offer self-service support
  • Set realistic expectations for your customers
  • Hire awesome agents
  • Actively listen to your customers and use the feedback to improve processes

Don’t underestimate the value of excellent customer service – it all comes down to creating a memorable experience for your customers. Great customer service as a competitive advantage will increase loyalty, bring in new customers, increase revenue, and help you stand out from the pack.

Ready to provide better customer service? Get in touch today!

The difference between customer support and customer success

Customer support (or service) and customer success are often used interchangeably. While there are differences between the two, customer support and customer success should work hand in hand to provide the best experience to customers; companies lose about $62 billion a year because of a poor customer experience.

Let’s take a look at the differences between customer support and customer success.

Purposes

The two have very slightly purposes within a company. Customer support is often thought to be reactive, responding to problems that customers reach out about, resolving issues, and keeping customers happy.

On the other hand, customer success is more proactive. Customer success agents aim to understand and anticipate customer needs in order to increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn. Customer success teams proactively reach out to customers, initiating conversations first.

Another way to distinguish the two is simply from the names. Customer support provides support to customers ad hoc (whenever customers reach out for support). Customer success is dedicated to the success of customers, so they identify needs and reach out to customers. It’s for this reason that onboarding typically falls under the domain of customer success. During onboarding, customer success agents ensure customers are educated about everything they need to know to successfully use the product or service..

Customer success is responsible for:

Customer support is responsible for:

  • Deepening customer relationships to foster loyalty
  • Improving processes to enhance the customer experience
  • Preemptively anticipating customer needs (i.e. up-selling)
  • Monitoring customer health and engagement
  • Reducing churn
  • Billing inquiries
  • Technical problems
  • Resolving issues that customers call in about
  • Turning bad experiences into positive ones
  • Ensuring customer satisfaction
  • Reducing churn

Interactions

Customer support interactions are initiated by the customer and are transactional, meaning they have a beginning and an end.

Interactions with customer success teams don’t necessarily have an end date. It’s an ongoing relationship over time that continues as long as the user is a customer.  

 

Metrics

Because customer support and support teams have different functions, they have different metrics to look at.

Customer support metrics typically measure the quality and speed of the resolution, whereas customer success metrics are more concerned with the long-term business goals so they look at things such as the lifestyle value of the customer. Customer success works to prevent customer churn and uses indicators like product usage to identify and reach out to customers who are in danger of churning.

Customer success metrics include:

Customer support metrics include:

  • Customer churn rate
  • Expansion revenue
  • Customer retention
  • Repeat purchase rate
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT surveys)
  • Net promoter scores (NPS surveys)
  • Average resolution time
  • First response times

 

 

The rise of customer success

This idea of customer success was really only born in the last few years. Part of the reason that there was this need for customer success came from the rise of software as a service (SaaS) companies which made customer satisfaction and loyalty more crucial than ever. Enter customer success.

B2B companies saw the value of customer success teams as well. Companies across industries started to focus on nurturing existing customers and strengthening advocacy – this helped increase customer retention and loyalty over time.

 

Support and success needs to be complementary

In many companies, customer success and support often work in silos. While customer success and support have different functions, the two teams should work in tandem in a company because at the end of the day, both teams ultimately have the same end goal: providing the best experience possible for their shared customers.

They need to work hand-in-hand to provide a cohesive experience to the customer because 70% of purchasing experiences are based on how the customer feels like they’re being treated. Customers don’t care whether they’re talking to someone from customer success or customer support; they’re only concerned with resolving their issue, getting the most value, and how seamless that interaction is.

Supportbench can help you deliver excellent customer support. Get in touch with us today!

8 helpful tools for your customer support team

Customer service is crucial to the health of your business, which means support agents have a tough job.

A good customer support software can streamline the team’s workflow and processes with multichannel ticket management, customizable SLAs and customer satisfaction surveys.

But in addition to a reliable customer support software, there are many other tools that can help streamline your day-to-day tasks. From grammar checks to reminders to take breaks, here are eight tools that help increase productivity and maximize your time.

1. Slack

Slack is a communication tool that is great for cutting down on emails. You can create private and public channels, as well as message team members directly. Slack is not only great for team communication, but it’s also helpful in creating a sense of community, especially if you have remote workers. For example, you can create a virtual water cooler with a #general or #funny channel.

2. Skype or Google Hangouts

Speaking of remote workers, if your whole team or even part of your team works remotely, it’s important to check in with them – both for regular team huddles as well as one-on-ones. Since you don’t have the luxury of popping into a meeting room to have a face-to-face conversation, you can use online conversation tools such as Skype or Google Hangouts to talk virtually. It’s important to have these check-ins with remote workers so they feel connected and supported as a team member.

3. Zapier

Zapier is a tool that integrates with thousands of applications and helps you automate apps that you use every day. You set up “zaps” so that when a “trigger” (when your company is mentioned on social media) occurs, certain actions will happen automatically (a ticket is automatically created or it goes to a Slack channel feed).

The possibilities with Zapier are endless. You can set it up so that tasks are automatically created in project management tools or customer information is automatically synced with your CRM system.

4. Boomerang for Gmail

Many support technologies allow you to send and schedule emails directly from the platform. If your support software doesn’t have this functionality, Boomerang is a helpful extension that lets you schedule emails to send at a later date. This is super handy if you need to send follow up emails because you can prep them to be sent on a particular day and time – just set it and forget it.

5. Docusign

As you help customers resolve their issues, you may need to get a customer to sign documents from time to time. The electronic signature application DocuSign makes it super easy and seamless to send documents to customers for e-signature.

DocuSign also has a Chrome app that lets you quickly send out documents for signature by right-clicking a file. And with the DocuSign extension, customers can conveniently sign the PDFs right from Gmail.

6. Trello

Trello is an extremely easy to use project management tool with features such as drag and drop, color-coding, and deadlines. Your team can use Trello to keep track of projects that they’re working on or to brainstorm ideas for knowledge base articles.

7. Grammarly

When writing emails to customers, it’s important to make sure the communication is free of mistakes such as typos or grammatical errors. This is where Grammarly comes in, you can plop your email into the app and it will catch any grammar errors that you might have missed. It will also suggest another word if the one you have used seems out of context.

If you want to go one step further and eliminate the need to copy and paste your email, Grammarly has an extension that will automatically check as you type.

8. Stretchy

A support job means sitting down for most of the day. It can be easy to lose track of time and by the end of the day, you might be burnt out. Getting up every so often to stretch your legs or take a coffee break has been known to increase productivity. Stretchy is a desktop app that reminds you to take breaks throughout the day. You can customize the reminder times (i.e. 20-second breaks every hour). And you have the choice to skip the break if it’s not a convenient time or you’re right in the middle of a call.

These tips will help take some of the unnecessary friction and frustration out of the day-to-day tasks and make providing excellent customer support easier.

Ready to talk about how Supportbench can help you provide better customer support? Get in touch today!

How to write effective knowledge base articles

With multiple ways for a customer to seek support these days, more and more prefer self-service options. In fact, 70% of customers expect self-help options from a company when they reach out for support.

Self-service support options include community forums, FAQ pages, and knowledge bases. These options are appealing to customers because it allows them to access the information they need anytime they want. Knowledge bases can be customer-facing, internal, or both.

An effective knowledge base article serves two purposes:

  • To enable customers to find the information needed to resolve their issue fast
  • To reduce the number of support calls made

If you notice a high volume of tickets on a particular topic or certain recurring search terms, consider turning these topics into knowledge base articles.

We’ve got four tips to help you write effective knowledge base articles.

Tip 1: Follow a structure

Using a template ensures consistency and clarity across all of your knowledge base articles. Think of the template as a recipe and to whip up an effective knowledge base article, you need these ingredients:

  • Title: When you’re writing a support article title, keep in mind what the customer would search for when seeking help (i.e. “How to change my password”). You want to make it as easy as possible for them to find the article.
  • Table of contents: If it’s a long article, consider adding a table of contents at the beginning that allows customers to jump to the section they want to read.
  • Problem: Next, describe the problem or issue and include as much detail as possible, (i.e specific error messages, common triggers).
  • Step-by-step solution: Once you’ve outlined the problem then tell customers how to solve it with step-by-step instructions. Keep it clear, concise, and properly structured with numbered steps that are easy to follow.
  • Screenshots: A picture tells a thousand words. Use screenshots wherever possible to provide additional clarity.
  • Next steps: At the end knowledge base article, include links to other relevant support resources.

 

Tip 2: Write for the web

In addition to following a structured template, remember to also write for the web. A good rule of thumb to follow is to make the support article scannable:

  • Use proper titles, subtitles, and headings that summarize the paragraphs below it
  • Use short paragraphs and plenty of white space to break up content
  • Use callouts, bullet points, tables, and visuals to highlight important information

 

Tip 3: Clarity over creativity

When it comes to knowledge base articles, always choose clarity over creativity. Find a balance between engaging content that keeps customers reading and clear content so customers can solve the issue themselves. Do this by:

  • Avoiding technical jargon
  • Using simple language
  • Writing how your customers talk (use words and phrases that they would search for)
  • Focusing on features instead of benefits. Support material is the opposite of marketing copy – the purpose is to help and solve, not to convince and sell
  • Being consistent with product names
  • Being thorough, no detail is too tiny. The reader doesn’t have the luxury of a support agent walking them through a solution so the article needs to be as informative as possible
  • Writing so that both a beginner and a more advanced user will understand. If the difference between the two audiences is too great, consider writing two versions of the article – one for beginners and one for advanced users.

 

Tip 4: Make it easily findable

If a support article is written but no one can find it, does it really exist? You’ve created a super helpful knowledge base article, now you need to make sure that customers can find it.

  • Group your articles under logical and intuitive categories so that when customers are browsing your knowledge base, they can easily find the article
  • Identify keywords that your customers might use to find a specific article and include them in your article
  • Use those keywords as tags so the article is searchable within your support software
  • Write a good search summary so customers know at a glance that the article contains the information that they are looking for
  • Invest time in SEO for your knowledge base articles so that when customers are searching for solutions, your articles will show up in Google results.

The beauty of knowledge bases is that you can continuously add to it and improve the content. After you’ve created your knowledge base articles, monitor how effective they are by looking at your analytics. Have your support articles reduced the number of questions and calls about the problems? If the common questions you decided to tackle are still frequently appearing in support tickets, you need to revisit your support articles and revise.

6 customer service tips that increase sales

Customer service has changed drastically over the past few years. With so many different ways for a customer to interact with a brand, and social media to amplify those experiences, customer service has a far bigger impact on sales these days.


Great customer service improves your bottom line because happy customers are loyal customers that will continue buying from you and tell their friends and family:

 

We’ve rounded up six key tips that will help you provide the type of excellent service that increases sales.

1. Listen and always respond to customer feedback

There’s no better way to improve your product and service than to go straight to the source. In particular, negative feedback provides valuable insight into what’s not working and pain points. These customer comments can help you increase sales by providing direction on what your customers want, giving you guidance on how to improve your product or service and increase sales. Set up CSAT and NPS surveys to capture customer feedback that you can action on.

It’s also not enough to just use the customer feedback to improve your product, you also have respond to your customers – especially if it’s on social media. Customer interactions are no longer a one to one interaction – your responses are on a public stage. How you answer has the potential to either gain you strong advocates or alienate customers.

You should aim to respond to every mention on social media but it’s extremely important to address the negative ones. 58% of people who have tweeted a bad experience never get a response.

Addressing negative comments shows your customer – and other potential customers – that they’re being heard, and more importantly, that you value their opinion. It also gives you a chance to turn that negative experience into a positive one, reducing churn and lost sales.

2. Respond quickly

Customers these days are used to instant results. Speed is key – the faster you’re able to respond to a customer, the better. Customers expect a speedy response to their comments – an angry customer or one who has a time-sensitive issue will expect an even faster response.

Research shows that 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour. Fast and genuine responses help keep customers satisfied, which head to higher sales.

3. Cross-sell

Another way that great customer service can help you increase sales is cross-selling, which means recommending products or services that are relevant to the ones that the customer already has or has expressed interest in.

However, there’s a fine art to cross-selling. The product or services you recommend have to make sense to the customer or else they will think that you are just trying to squeeze more money out of them.

Cross-selling is also only appropriate in certain situations, for example when the customer is satisfied with the company – never try to cross-sell to an angry customer – or when the customer has a need for a product or service.

4. Go the extra mile

To create loyal customers, you have to go the extra mile and provide excellent customer service. Some tips to achieve that are to:

  • Properly manage customer expectations
  • Make a good first impression
  • Really listen to what customers are saying
  • Turn bad experiences into good ones


These tips above will help make your brand more memorable to your customers, build deeper relationships, and encourage them to sing your praises. To learn more about the tips above, read our resource, Delivering Excellence through Customer Service.

Nurturing deeper customer relationships through excellent service results in stronger brand loyalty and increased likelihood to recommend – both of which translate to higher sales.

5. Anticipate customer needs

Anticipating your customers’ needs help increase sales because it’s easier to sell to your customers when you understand exactly what it is they need.

Customer service isn’t only responding to technical issues or complaints, it’s also about providing relevant value to your customers at the right time. Once you identify their pain points and provide a solution to their problem, customer satisfaction and sales go up.

Do you have a company blog? Consider using that medium to create blog posts on topics that your customers are interested in. This keeps you top of mind and shows your customer that you not only understand their needs and interests, but are providing a solution, encouraging referrals and repeat purchases.

6. Invest in new technology

Whether it’s a social media platform or ticketing system, invest in the technology that will help you best communicate, engage, and nurture your customers.

Customer service has evolved over the years. Where customers used to interact with a company in person or over the phone, customers can now connect with brands through social media, email, live chat, text messaging, and the list goes on. Consider implementing technology that will allow you to keep up with your customers in today’s technology-driven age.

Great customer service can help you increase sales by turning customers into repeat buyers and brand advocates. And the key to achieve great customer service is to provide a fantastic experience for your customers that leaves them satisfied and happy. Focus on that, and watch your sales increase.

Get in touch with us to know more about the benefits of Supportbench!

7 tips for dealing with angry customers

The reality of customer service is that not all of your customers will be happy all the time. An unavoidable aspect of a customer support role is dealing with angry customers.

It’s a tough job to not only resolve their problem but to turn the bad experience into a good one. Below are seven tips to keep in mind when you’re dealing with angry customers.

 

1. Practice active listening

 

Active listening means really listening to what your customers are saying. Often, the most important thing you can do for a customer, especially an angry one, is to make sure they feel like they’re being heard. This ensures that they feel like you truly understand what they’re saying and in turn, will make them more receptive to your help.

From their emotions, tone of voice, or technical knowledge, learn how to assess what your customer is saying to determine the best way to connect with them – whether that’s a straightforward method or a more explanatory approach.

It helps to paraphrase the customer’s words back to them – this will drive home the fact that you’re not only listening but that you understand what they’re saying.

 

2. Be empathetic

 

Empathy is one of the most important qualities a support agent needs to have. Make sure that the customer feels like you not only understand their plight but can relate to their problem. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

The ability to put yourselves in their shoes and understand their frustration can go a long way to assuaging an angry customer. Try saying something like, “I completely understand – if that happened to me, I would be frustrated too.”

 

3. Assure the customer that you will do everything you can to help them

 

We’ve established that when dealing with an angry customer, it’s important to take the time to make sure they feel like they’re really being heard and empathize with their frustration.

But it’s also important to make sure they know that you’re dedicated to solving their problem.

A great tip to help achieve this is to consistently use the customer’s name during the call. This helps create a more genuine connection with the customer and show them that they’re not just a nameless case to you.

Show the customer that action will be taken to resolve their problem by outlining the steps you will take – whether that’s consulting with third parties or following up to inform them of the progress made. This shows the customer that their concern is not falling on idle ears and that you are actively trying to resolve the problem.

And if you can’t do exactly what they’re asking for, avoid just saying no. You may not be able to completely solve the customer’s problem, but you can suggest alternative solutions. Reframe it in a positive way by saying what you can do instead. For example, “We’re not able to do that, but we could do X, Y, or even Z.”

 

4. Take ownership of the problem

 

It’s important to take ownership of the problem. It can be tempting to pass the blame to another department or person when a mistake has occurred, especially when there’s an angry customer on the line. But the customer isn’t concerned with who made the mistake – they’re only concerned with the issue at hand.

Passing the buck and pointing fingers is not going to help calm an irate customer. Plus, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is – at this point, it’s about the customer and the resolution.

Taking ownership and apologizing to the customer for their inconvenience helps give customers a sense that the first steps have been taken to resolve their issue.

In addition to addressing their issue, thank them for bringing the problem to your attention. This shows that you’re not only dedicated to solving the problem for them but also to making sure that it doesn’t happen to other customers.

 

5. Don’t take it personally

 

This tip is crucial. Always keep in mind that angry customers are frustrated at the situation, not you. You are bearing the brunt of their anger because you’ve given them an outlet to voice their frustration, but they are not attacking you personally.

Let the customer vent and release their pent-up anger. Allow them the opportunity to say their part before you even try to resolve the issue – interrupting them before they’re done will just agitate them further.

 

6. Smile!

 

A co-worker used to walk around as he talked on the phone. He’d say, “motion creates emotion.” While it’s not always practical to walk around while you talk to customers on the phone, what you can to is smile when you’re greeting customers.

It may feel silly but there really is a vast difference when you talk to a customer while smiling, compared to without. The result is that you sound friendlier, nicer, and more approachable.

This tip is vital because it’s not a pleasant experience for any customer, let alone an angry one, to talk to someone who sounds monotone, bored, and emotionless. It makes them feel like you don’t want to talk to them or care about their problem.

 

7. Follow up and keep the customer informed

 

Always follow-up with the customer to reassure them that their case hasn’t fallen through the cracks. And follow up in every scenario – when the case has been resolved as well as during resolution. The latter may be required if the case turns out to be more complicated and requires more time.

Follow-ups go hand in hand with the previous point of showing that you are doing everything you can to solve their problem. It demonstrates that you care even after the initial phone call and are dedicated to resolving their issue.

If you are troubleshooting or looking into the problem while the customer on the line, put them on hold but keep them informed by letting them know what you are doing and the steps that you’re taking.

It’s not easy to deal with angry customers. Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re speaking to an irate customer to help turn the experience around and leave the customer happy with your company.