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Giving Customers the Support They Need

26th Jun 2017
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Customers want a lot of things, such as good quality goods at a fair price and a great customer service experience. But above all else, what they really want from a company is support and the knowledge that the company is looking out for their interests and not just the corporate pocketbook.

But while companies today preach the importance of customer support and service, many fail to live up to it. A recent study of 500 companies found that 41 percent of companies do not respond to customer service emails and that “The average response time to handle a customer service request is 15 hours and 17 minutes.”

These are some of the most basic customer support measures which every company should do, and yet it is not being done. So it is time to review basic customer support measures, advanced measures, and everything in between. Above all else, strong customer support requires strong communication within a company so that everyone knows exactly how to handle frustrated customers and keep their loyalty.

Have Multiple Contact Channels

Every business knows in theory the importance of having a rapid response time to customer complaints, but the aforementioned survey shows that it is not being done. But first, your business must ensure that customers can quickly and easily get in touch with your customer representatives so that you know there is a problem.

Given that everyone has their preferred ways to get in touch with others, it is also important to have multiple contact channels so that customers can contact the business on their terms and feel comfortable doing so. If your only method of contact is through phone, people who do not like to others over the phone will often just not bring up the problem, which prevents your business from fixing the problem and regaining their trust.

At bare minimum, businesses should have a phone number and email which customers can quickly find, and should consider having a form of self-service directly on the company website. These three methods are by the most popular methods for getting in touch with a company.

Do not have too many Channels

While it is important to have multiple channels so customers can quickly contact you, remember that it is possible to spread yourself thin. If you have too few employees in the call centers, customers will get irate with the long wait times and inevitably turn elsewhere.

Outside of the three best methods to ensure rapid customer contact, your business may consider addressing some complaints through social media or other channels. However, keep close watch over all channels used with an emphasis on how many people use each channel and how effective workers are at satisfactorily addressing consumer complaints. Depending on what the data reads, do not hesitate to close down less effective channels in favor of ensuring that you have enough personnel to man the more used channels and ensure a rapid, satisfactory response.

Fix your Mistakes – When they’re Mistakes

When a customer contacts a business with a complaint, a business has an obligation to listen. As noted above, customers want to know that a business will support them. And if a business has made a mistake, it is important to go the extra mile to get it fixed. A customer service representative should not try to pass the problem off by claiming that it was the fault of someone else in their business. The customer could not care less, and a business is a team. The mistake of one person is a mistake of everyone and should be promptly responded to.

But this only applies if the business actually made a mistake. And while you should give a customer the benefit of the doubt, avoid the trap of falling into the lazy assumption of “the customer is always right.” Some customers are just jerks who will not accept responsibility for their own mistakes. Ordering a customer service representative to automatically help such unhelpful individuals only encourages their bad behavior and lowers employee morale.

Treat your Workers well

The above section touched on this somewhat, but remember that as a business leader, your actions set the tone for what your workers do. If you do not treat your workers with respect and give them important information, why do you expect them to treat your customers with respect and give them important information?

Treating your employees does not mean lavishing them with pay and benefits. It means having god communication, listening to their complaints, and treating them like they are part of a team. Fast Company rightly notes that “employees have pretty much the same expectations about quick and convenient access in the workplace as they do as a customer outside of it.” And all the grand ideas and technology in the world will not improve customer service a lick if disgruntled employees do not execute.

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