The consumer-driven world we live in continues to evolve and adjust. Especially in a post-pandemic environment where we have endured countless changes to the ways we interact with customers and provide service to them. Customer service has become one of the most important departments in almost every industry from consumer goods to healthcare, banking to hospitality, and everything in between.
“According to a Walker study at the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.” (Niklas Stattin, 2022) With technology allowing more room for convenience, it also allows a bigger gap in the human-to-human connection. So how do we bridge that gap and return to the fundamentals of customer service: to make our customers feel heard and know they matter? The answer is simpler than you may think.
Here are 3 ways that your live customer service team can make a real connection in our world of modern technology:
1. Listen before solving – I have never been afraid to call the 800 number or send an email to customer service if I have an issue with a product or service so it’s safe to say I have had my fair share of customer service conversations as the consumer. When I make a call or send an email, or talk to a rep at the desk in a retail store, I am looking for one main thing: I want to be heard and have my problem acknowledged.
It has become an easy rebuttal for people that work in customer service to assume the issue and jump the gun on responding to the customer on how to remedy the problem. Especially when their responses are scripted and use the “if this, then that” strategy of problem-solving.
The alternative is to train your customer service staff to listen to the customer’s issue in its entirety before presenting a solution. Once the customer has expressed their problem or concern, the customer service person should respond with sympathy and understanding. Train them to repeat the customer’s problem so they can reassure the customer that they are being heard and a solution will be presented.
2. Repeat what they say – As mentioned above, repeating the customer’s problem/reason for talking to customer service can make the customer feel heard and acknowledged. Another excellent way to create a connection between the service rep and the customer is for the rep to use the customer’s name when speaking to them.
Using the customer’s name will create a connection and strengthen the sense that the customer is being heard and treated like their problem matters (because it does).
3. Allow for conversation in scripting – Many customer service departments have chosen to script every possible conversation with customers, especially if they outsource the customer service department to another country with potential language barriers. While this can create consistency in how problems are resolved, set expectations for the reps and the customer as well as potentially provide conflict resolutions, it does come with some drawbacks.
When there is no room for real conversation, the interaction can feel robotic and inauthentic to the customer. These types of interactions create the exact opposite feeling of being heard and essentially make the customer feel like just another number and even a nuisance for trying to get a solution to their problem.
It is critical to train your customer service team to remember that they are talking to human beings and that they are human beings, not robots or computers simply following equations and data.
These three things are just the beginning of how you can create a customer service program that makes the customer feel heard and know they matter. Though they may sound simple, they are critical in setting yourself apart from your competition and ultimately improving your bottom line.
Focusing on improving your customer service program will increase your brand loyalty, and encourage repeat customers, referrals, and positive reviews. The companies that focus on correcting and/or improving their customer service experience vs. continuing to build new products/services will meet the call of the customer and ultimately come out on top.
It is the time of the customer and that means if you want your company to thrive, you need to lean-in to the importance of creating an outstanding customer service experience which starts with simply going back to the basics of treating people how they want to be treated.