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Credibility in business is essential for success. If customers do not trust you, they will not purchase from you. The more credible your company is, the less efforts your need to take for selling your products.
In online business customer service affects credibility of a company even more than in offline business. Online customer service transforms a virtual company into a real one, with real people behind it.
Many things matter when we talk about customer service that makes people trust a company. Let’s take live chat support.
The first thing that may affect your website credibility is unanswered requests. Make sure that operators pick up all incoming requests, and set their status to “offline” when they are away form their PC.
Secondly, follow up on all messages that are sent through your offline form. These messages should be your first priority when you are back online. Remember that it is easy to send out requests to several companies online, and those who answer faster may win the client.
Also your chat operators should know more about your products and services than it is written on your website. Everything that is written on your website your website visitors can read without your help. In the most cases people contact you because of the four reasons:
- The required information is not on your website, or they cannot find it.
- They want you to take some actions, e.g. recover their password, or fix an issue.
- They are not sure that they are choosing the right company, and they want to talk to real people to check.
- They are not sure that they are choosing the right product.
The first three reasons are about your website credibility. If a shop assistant in a store does knot know anything about a product, customers can ask another assistant. But if a chat operator does not know something, customers will not try to contact another one. They will not even contact you via phone or email. They will just switch to a company whose operators are more knowledgable and capable.
Make sure that all your chat operators work for your website and business credibility.
Customers do not always need to see or hear a customer service representative to understand their mood or attitude. Even via live chat the words you choose can tell a lot to your customers.
We often start our sentences with the “NO” word.
Compare the situations:
- Do you have this shirt in black color?
- No, we only have it in grey.
- Well, ok, I’ll get the grey one. Can you deliver it tomorrow?
- No, we can deliver it in two days.
- Should I pay for it now?
- No, you can pay on delivery.
- Do you have this shirt in black color?
- This model comes only in grey.
- Well, ok, I’ll get the grey one. Can you deliver it tomorrow?
- We can deliver it in two days. Will it be convenient for you?
- Should I pay for it now?
- You can pay on delivery when you make sure that it fits you well.
The information is the same in both cases, but it is delivered in different ways. How would a customer feel in the first case? Looks like the agent is not willing to help and just wants to get rid of the customer. There is an opinion that you need to get three “yes” in a row from a client to get them buy. What if you hear three “no” from an agent? Sounds like this is not the product that you are looking for. Though you can see that the third offer works better for the client, as he does not have to pay immediately. But when the information is wrapped in a negative sentence, it sound like a worse option.
Positive phrases show your positive attitude and readiness to help. Positive sentences sell more than negative. So open your chat scrips in the archive and check how often you use negative phrases. Copy out all negative sentences and transform them into positive ones, when possible. Next time when a similar situation happens, use the new positive phrase.
Good luck in delivering better customer service!
HelpOnClick introduces updates in the “Code” area (Admin -> Code) of the live chat operator panel. The updates are available for all users on all plans.
As you may already know, all the HelpOnClick plans include free chat setup on up to five websites. From now on you can customize unlimited variants of each engagement option for every website.
Our engagement options are: a toolbar, a widget, an icon, a combination of a widget and an icon, a direct link and an iframe. When you register a new account, on the Code tab you will see three options: an icon, a widget and a toolbar. Click on the blue buttons on the top to add more options. If you want to implement several options on the website, you need to copy the code and paste it to your website separately for each option. If you are our current customer, on the code tab you will see all the six options. You can remove those which you do not use by clicking on the Remove link. You can also add more options if needed.
How can you benefit from this update? Here are a few examples.
Example 1. You can set up a toolbar linked to your sales team on your pricing page, and a toolbar linked to your service team on the help pages. They may have different colors and eye-catchers.
Example 2. On different pages you can locate your toolbar differently. It can have a horizontal or vertical positions on different pages.
Example 3. If you prefer icons to engage visitors into chat, you can also use various types of them, depending on a page. They may vary in colors, images or texts.
You have a great opportunity to play with the settings and find the best combination of engagement options for your website.
Forty-eight percent of people who had negative experiences with a company told 10+ people about it, and only twenty-three percent of customers who had a positive experience told 10+ people about it. How many satisfied and unsatisfied customers does your business have? How can we measure customer satisfaction?
When we talk about customer satisfaction, we think of the following measurements:
- Perceived quality
- Attributional satisfaction
- Intention to repurchase
Perceived quality is the overall experience with your company. Loyalty is readiness to recommend your company to a friend. Attributional satisfaction is satisfaction with a part of your business, for example, your location or new interior design. Intention to repurchase shows if you customers want to buy your products on a regular basis, or if they are ready to renew their subscription when it ends.
While you need to ask different questions to measure different types of satisfaction, the following methods may suit for all of them.
1. Examine recent correspondence customers have sent and your live chat archive. See if your customers use a lot of emotive words, whether they are positive or negative. Pay attention at the cases when your customers mention that they are still waiting for a response, or when they contact you via chat because there is no answer via email.
2. Use feedback tools of your help desk and live chat software. Ask your customers to rate your service according to a 5-star system or a 10-point scale. HelpOnClick help desk and live chat software have a 5-star rating system, which allows you to measure customer satisfaction.
3. Conduct a survey. You can create a web-based survey and invite your customers to participate via email. A simple questionnaire can be created via Google forms for free. Make the questionnaire short and clear to attract more respondents.
4. Call random customers and ask them what they think about your products and your company. Or follow up on a recent call and find out if your customers were happy with the service.
5. Monitor social media and review websites. See if you get positive or negative reviews, get in touch with the customers who review your products.
It is important to measure your success, because it is the only way to see if your service gets better. The above methods are very simple and cheap, they are available for every business. No matter how big or small your business is, measuring customer satisfaction is a must for you.
Small companies often provide better customer service than big companies. This sounds ridiculous, because big companies have more resources to provide better service. But it turns out that a big budget does not mean good service at all.
Why big companies provide worse customer service? The main reason is customer service staff. Owners of small businesses often serve customers themselves. They are the most passionate and motivated people in business. They understand the importance of every interaction with customers. They are eager to help customers and win their loyalty. Business owners are the perfect people for customer service, because they understand the importance of great customer service, they know everything about their business, and they are empowered to make any decision on behalf of their customers.
We can see a similar situation in small teams. When a team is dedicated to their business, the can provide the same level of customer service as business owners do.
The problems start when a business grows. Business owners in big companies are unable to work in customer service, and the members of small teams take their places in management teams. They have to hire people who do not know ins and outs of their business and in most cases they are not fully dedicated to their job. The new customer service team is limited in decision making and often lacks proper training.
A real disaster and downgrade in customer service level happens when companies outsource customer service. An outsourcing company can only act according to provided scripts. Their help is similar to assistance of a Virtual Agent, but several times more expensive. Have you ever contacted a service team of a big company, and they could not provide any information beyond the text from their website? This is really annoying because normally you contact support team to get more information, but they are unable to help you, because the company’s website is their only source of information.
Of course, many companies succeed in expanding their support team. When your company grows, you need to realize, that your service should play by different rules. You need to reconsider you support policies, motivation and training programs, communication processes and success metrics. This may sound too complicated to a small business owner, but this is the only way to continue delivering great customer service when your company grows.
Customer service standards determine service quality. But only people can make any system work. Only a well-trained and motivated customer service team can deliver superior customer service. It is not easy to find the right people, but if you know what to look for, your plan may come true.
An ideal service guru should have the following skills:
1. Thick skin
Everyone knows that customer service job is stressful, even if you work for the best company in the world. If a member of a support team is too emotional, he will break down sooner or later, and that does not work for good customer service.
2. Clear communication skills
Customer service is all about communication. In the most cases, customers do not choose the best product in the world, but they choose a company where they feel comfortable, where they can easily get on with the staff and get answers to all their questions.
3. Persuasion skills
The majority of prospects compare several products before making a purchase. The aim of your customers service representatives is to make customers interested in your products and dispel clients’ doubts.
4. Ability to “read” customers
What is said is not always what is meant. Sometimes non-verbal signs say more than words, and can explain a situation better. This skill is the most useful in offline communication, but sometimes it is even possible to read between the lines.
5. Ability to use “positive language”
Customers do not want to hear about problems, difficult situations and out-of-stock products. They want to hear about your solution, challenging experience and new arrivals. Customers describe your company in the words you do.
6. Goal oriented focus
Communication in customer service is not a mere chit-chat. Every interaction should be focused at solving customers’ issues. Ability to reach goals is important for those employees who want to be good at customer service.
7. Closing ability
Many deals fail only because of inability of a customer service representative to close a deal. Without this skill, all other skills become almost useless, because customers won’t buy even if your rep is a great person with good communication skills. They will be happy to talk and then buy in another place.
8. Work ethic
Working with people requires ethic. Companies may set up their own standards, but basic standards are essential for everyone.
9. Willingness to help
Those who do not like helping people, cannot succeed in customer service. Great customer service can only be provided by people who is ready to go an extra mile to help others.
10. Willingness to learn
Willingness to learn is a key success factor in any profession, including customer service. Effective team is a well-trained team. Your customer service people may lack many of the above skills when you hire them, but if they really want to learn, they may become your best employees.
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 help, 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.