If customer service is your job, and you want to succeed in it, this article is for you. Wether you have large experience or you are new at customer service, it is never late to improve your skills.
Learn to listen to your customers.
Only great listeners can become great at customer service. Learn how to listen actively, ask questions and summarize the answers. Show genuine interest and willingness to help.
Know your product.
Deep knowledge of your product is important. No matter if you sell used furniture or a complicated software, you must be an expert in it. If you are not able to explain customers how your product works, you will not sell it. If you are not able to understand what kind of issues your customers experience with your product, you will not be able to help them, and you may lose them. Ask yourself “Am I able to answer all possible questions about my products?” If not, start learning the answers right now!
Customer service is a very stressful job if you are not able to manage your emotions. You may find some useful advice in our post “How to keep calm at work”. To be good at customer service, you should learn how to stay cool under pressure, and also how to calm down a customer (See our post “How to calm an angry customer”). Sometimes customers think that the world is falling down due to their current problem, and it is your job to stop their panic and continue with a positive and meaningful dialog.
Admit that you may need help.
When you learn how to work under pressure and how to listen to customers, and you know your products pretty well, the situation still may run out of control. When you ask someone for hep, it does not mean that you show your weakness. It means that you are doing your best to help your customers. You need to know who, when and how you may ask for help, if any extraordinary situations happen. Work out a “Plan B” if there is no one to help.
Be ready to go an extra mile.
Good customer service is when you match customers’ expectations. WOW customer service is when you exceed them. If you are able to do more than your customers expect, and you do that with enthusiasm and willingness to make your customers happy, you have a great future in customer service.
Big companies spend a fortune on numerous researches to learn who their customers are. With the HelpOnClick live chat even small companies may learn more about their website visitors, with no extra cost.
We have released a new feature, an integration with the FullContact software. From now on, when you start a chat with your website visitors, the system searches the web for the information about them. The search is based on the provided email address. Once any information is found, you may see your visitor’s picture, full name, related websites, and their social profiles. (Note: if the customers’ emails are not used for any social registrations, you may not see any additional information about them.)
It is really a great feature because now you are able to make a portrait of your current and potential customers absolutely for free! Why is it important to create a portrait of your client? It is vital to know your customers, their age, gender, education, occupation, interests, family relations, etc. With this information you are able to focus your propositions on those aspects that are important to your customers. Now you do not have to guess, you may know exactly what they like.
How can you learn this information? Our FullContact feature shows your customers’ profiles and related websites. Social profiles are now one of the best and the cheapest source of information about people. Once you get the list of social profiles of your customers, you may learn about them a lot. It is useful that this information is not only available during a chat, but also it gets saved in the archive. You may browse the chat archive anytime, and see who your current and potential customers are, what they are interested in, and much more.
A portrait of a client is the main point of any marketing program. Without it, it is impossible to work out an effective proposition. With the HelpOnClick live chat you may learn about your customers effortless and without extra costs.
Log in to your account now to see how it works.
Following rules is one of the most difficult part of life and of business. Some rules should be followed day after day, for many years, for as long as a company lives. But these rules finally bring companies to success.
Some rules are not obligatory, but when we speak about the Golden rules, you cannot afford ignoring them. In customers service there are core rules, that sound simple, but in real life they are very hard to follow. Those who manage to provide customer service by following these rules, stand out from their competitors.
1. Customer service is everyone’s job.
Every contact with your clients is important. Customers do not make the difference between the staff who is supposed to help them and who is not. They expect responsiveness and support from everyone in your company.
2. Ask questions and listen to the answers.
The less questions you ask, the more chances are that you misunderstand your customers. Last week I called a bank to solve a small problem, and they switched me to the wrong assistants three times in a row, because they thought they understood what I was telling them. But they were absolutely wrong. They did not even try to ask questions and identify the problem correctly. As a result – from their loyal customer I have downgraded to a customer with a negative attitude.
Ask questions and listen to the answers. Also pay attention to the words, tone of voice, body language, when possible, and try to understand how your customers feel. You cannot help your customers if you are not able to understand them.
3. Promise only what you can deliver, and then over deliver.
There’s nothing worse than disappointing customers’ expectations, and there’s nothing better than delivering WOW-service. Providing WOW-service means significantly exceeding customers’ expectations. WOW-service is the best way to win loyal customers.
4. Know how to apologize.
Sometimes things go wrong. Do not just give angry customers their money back and let them go away angry. Admit you were wrong and issue a great apology. When you let customers go away angry, you lose customers. When you go an extra mile to make the situation right, you may win the customer back. Humility can calm anger faster than a refund.
5. Treat employees well.
None of customer service strategies is viable without well-trained, enthusiastic and capable employees. Unhappy employees are not able to make customers happy. Give your employees the most effective training and proper motivation. Show that you value and respect them, and they will pass this attitude to your customers.
Following these rules is not as easy as it seems, but if you start following them just little by little every day, it will bring your customer service to an absolutely different level months and years after.
We are happy to introduce you our new amazing contact toolbar, which includes several contact options for your website visitors. Log in to your HelpOnClick operator panel now to check out the new toolbar!
The HelpOnClick live chat software offers several engagement options for the online chat, such as a widget, a button, a direct link, and an iframe. Now we have added another powerful option, that may become the main contact point on your website. You can find it in your operator panel under the following tabs: “Admin” —> “Code”, and on the “Code” page choose “Toolbar”.
The contact toolbar is a set of buttons that allow website visitors to enter a chat, send an email, contact you via Skype, or read your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The toolbar can be placed on the bottom of your website, or on a side (vertical position). You can customize the color of the toolbar, buttons names, and select icons. You decide if you want to use all available contact options, or only some of them. There is also a possibility to create up to three custom buttons. Live preview will help you estimate the results of customization in the real time. To access the toolbar editor, click on the “Open widget builder” button on the “Code” page.
Another great tool that is released is eye-catchers. Eye-catchers grasp your visitors’ attention and engage them to start a chat, or contact you via other available options.
You can select an eye-catcher from the library (“Admin” —> “Code” —> “Toolbar” —> “Open widget builder” —> “Invitation” —> “Custom image” —> “Choose from library”), or upload your own design.
The eye-catchers use the same automated invitation rules, that apply to the chat widget. There are two types of the eye-catchers. The first one has a classic view: a picture of an operator and an invitation text. It is fully synchronized with the invitation rules regarding timing and messages. The second one is more creative. It is a custom image which pops up in correspondence with the invitation rules, but the invitation text stays unchanged, as it is a part of the image.
Customer service today is one of the most important aspects of any business. Bad customer service can ruin a company. Good customer service can always be improved. See what you can do to improve your customer service.
1. Listen to your customers.
Your customers are a great source of learning. They would be glad to tell you how you can deliver better service if you are ready to listen to them. You can ask them in person or conduct a small survey. In any case you may be surprised with the number of things that your customers think you could improve.
2. Let customers get to know you.
Online business is much more anonymous than offline business. To assure customers that you will not disappear overnight, add some personal information to your website. This can be your office address with a map, some pictures of your office or your employees. Personal information can minimize concerns of accessibility, trust or safety.
3. Set and communicate clear standards.
Many small businesses do not have communication standards, because their owners think that they do not need them. As a result, all employees behave according to their own idea of good service. Does this look familiar to you? Here is the room to improve. Service standards ensure that the service is consistently good, in every location, from everyone, every day. And, of course, your staff need to know what you expect of them.
4. Be available to your customers.
People hate waiting. As well as they hate writing to nowhere. When you offer phone, live chat support, or email support, make sure that your customers can reach you via these channels. If you are not able to provide 24/7 support, specify your office hours on the website. If a customer can’t get hold of you when they need to, you could lose them forever.
5. Train your staff.
There are a huge number of staff training methods available today. Start from hiring the right people and continue with improving their skills, work at their motivation and objectives. Here is an example of a cheap and effective method: send staff as “mystery shoppers” to your competitors. Let them see for themselves what others are doing. Get them to share their experience and see what best practice you can adopt.
Good luck in improving your service!
When you open a business, you need to decide which customer service channels you are going to implement. If you have a website, you will probably choose to show your phone number and email address on your contact page. And what about a live chat? Do you think that your clients might need it?
Software Advice, a consulting company for customer service software buyers, conducted a survey of 346 respondents and 30 businesses to find out the impact of demographics on live chat customer service.
The research shows that younger people (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to have used live chat once or several times, while older people (aged 55 and over) are more likely to have never used live chat, or to have used it without success.
There is also a strong relationship between a consumer’s age and their preference for using live chat versus the phone. Look at the charts below too see how the relationship persists across three types of queries.
Financial Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Simple Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Online Shopping Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Younger customers prefer chat over phone for simple queries and online shopping queries. The most obvious reason for using chat during online shopping is that the customers are already online, and thus can use live chat with little effort: they do not need to reach for the phone or worry about hold times, and they can expect a quicker answer than if they called or emailed.
Some companies also state, that they successfully provide chat help to the middle-aged people. Lesley Cowie, marketing manager of Everblue, provider of sustainability training and certification, explains that its audience is primarily men aged 35 to 55.
“These individuals often come from occupations that include architect, engineer, construction manager, general contractor, home inspector, home builder or facilities manager,” Cowie says. “I don’t believe that there has been too much of a learning curve for our audience to use live chat. We’ve been pleased with the number of individuals who reach out to us through live chat on a daily basis.”
A majority of U.S. adults surveyed have used live chat at least once—and many express a clear preference for it over more traditional customer service channels. As an online service channel, live chat meets customers exactly where most of them seek pre-sales product information and post-sales support. When you start a business, do not forget to add live chat service to your website.
Retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones, and customer experience management is the most cost-effective way to drive customer satisfaction. Loyal customers ensure sales, reduce costs associated with consumer education, and recommend you to their friends.
However, not every customer who regularly purchases your products is loyal to your company. There are many reasons why they repeat purchasing from you:
- You are currently the low cost provider;
- It takes too many efforts or it is to expensive to change suppliers;
- They are used to using your products, and habits are hard to break;
- They may have relationships with one of your employees;
- Your location is currently the most convenient to them;
- You are currently the only available supplier to them;
- There is a contractual arrangement with your company.
All these reasons mean that as soon as a desirable competitor comes around, they may switch to them easily. On the contrary, loyal customers believe that your products and services are superior to those of the competition. They do not seek for alternatives, even when they have options.
Customer loyalty does not mean, that customers are loyal to your company alone. In the real world, customers are more often loyal to several companies, when it is possible. That means that they may tend to purchase brand A 60 percent of the time, brand B 30 percent, and brand C 10 percent of the time. They are loyal to these brands, but not to others, and yet 100% loyal to none. In this case the objective of companies is to make customers as loyal as possible, to maximize customer share of wallet.
Loyal customers may represent no more than 20 percent of your customer base, but make up more that 50 percent of your sales. You need to be communicating with these customers on a regular basis. These people are the ones who can and should influence your marketing decisions. Nothing will make a loyal customer feel better than soliciting their input and showing them how much you value it. Still you need to consider the fact, that not all regular customers are loyal to your company (see the reasons above). You need to be able to classify your customers and identify the loyal ones correctly if you plan to make marketing decisions based on their interests.
Customer service is perhaps one of the most vital parts of conducting business, because every interaction the company has with a customer can affect the business’ bottom line. Establishing a successful customer service program in your business requires commitment from yourself and your staff.
Customer service training for your employees do not just add value for the customer, it can drive sales and give you a competitive advantage. Training on customer service provides higher employee motivation and engagement, improves customer service skills, increases customer satisfaction, reduces employee turnover and increases sales.
To create an effective training program, first of all you need to identify customer’s needs. You need to know what customers expect from your company and your staff. This can be accomplished by setting up a feedback section on your website. Live chat tools also allow customers to leave a feedback, or rate the service. Another method to learn customer’s needs is to conduct a survey.
At the second step you need to evaluate each employee’s skills. The most effective training program should be based on the employee’s current skills. It will allow to fill in the gaps and strengthen weak points.
It is important to communicate the value of the training with your employees. They must be willing to apply the new skills they learned in training. No training program will bring significant results when trainees do not understand the importance and the aim of training.
There are many training methods that may work for your company. You can create a customer service manual, use video and audio records, purchase books on customer service for your corporate library. You can have experienced employees or supervisors shadow new employees. You can also have a professional business consultant or training agency conduct training classes.
Customer service training should not necessarily cost you a fortune. You can start with little things and gain results step by step. It is only important to have a plan to follow.
It is essential that you support your employees’ learning, provide feedback and track progress. Many training programs fail when employers do not show interest in the training results and do not encourage employees to apply their training.
Investing in a customer service training program improves business performance, profit and staff morale. This is what all companies need.
Posted by Tatiana » Add Comment »
Filed under Live chat
Today there are almost no industries with no competition. In the highly competitive environment companies have to consider many aspects of their business to survive.
Some companies focus on low price as their main competitive advantage. Now when consumers can easily browse internet for the cheapest offers, companies have to pay attention to their price policy more than ever. When you compete on price alone, you have to dramatically reduce costs. And at some points margins approach zero. E-commerce businesses also have to not only offer low prices but also offer free or low-cost shipping. This definitely does not help to develop your business.
When the price bottom is reached you realize that there should be something else to attract customers. And it is better to realize that before it is too late.
The second step is to offer better value for money. Better product quality may help you win more customers, but even if you sell the best product in the world, this does not guarantee you success.
53 percent of United Kingdom-based retailers surveyed for a recent Econsultancy report, said customer service and customer experience would be the primary way retail organizations will differentiate from competitors over the next five years. That means that price and product are not enough to win the competition race.
Customer experience is now one of the most important aspects of competition, and you need to clearly understand what customer service and customer experience mean.
According to Adam Richardson, a customer experience innovation strategist, “to be really successful on a long-term basis, customer experience needs to be seen as all these things, and more. It is the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”
Focus on customer experience means that you care about every contact with your customers, no matter when, where and how they happen. Opposite to the price competition, customer service gives you endless opportunities to improve your competitive advantage.
When visiting a retailer’s website, shoppers search for warranty information, pricing, specs/model information, payment/financing information, sales/discounts, availability and shipping information. You can provide all this information in details, and still customers will want to contact you before making a purchase, or after it. Make sure that you are able to assist your customers via all the channels below.
1. Phone support. It is the most popular way of contact. If you offer phone support, make sure that the phone is always answered during business hours, and use voice-mail for off-hours. You need to decide if you want to use a local telephone number, or a toll-free number, depending on the nature of your business.
2. Live chat support. It is the second most popular of contact for offline business. You can provide 24/7 chat support or use a virtual agent for offline hours. Live chat is more convenient when customers need to pass account details, links, screenshots and other information that can be hardly passed over the phone.
3. Email support works when an issue requires time for investigation, or when a case is not urgent. Still the sooner you reply, the better.
4. Facebook and Twitter. Many customers nowadays prefer using social media channels to contact a company. Since public messages are available, you must monitor these messages daily, and provide timely replies. Otherwise your potential customers may think that you do not care about customers inquiries.
5. Forums. It is good to have your own forum where customers may share their experience, but not every business really needs a forum on their website. There are a lot of independent forums dedicated to various topics. You need to find those that are related to your business, and become their contributor. This way you will be able to assist your customers, and also attract new clients.
Providing great customer service means being available for customers when and where they need you.