From choosing the correct support channels to using online resources to get out of the way, to empowering teams to keep customer happiness a priority, understanding how to properly conduct online support is paramount to creating an amazing customer experience.
What follows are our best tips for improving your online service today.
1. Ask yourself: What are my customers’ support needs?
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to online customer service is finding what your customers typically need from your support team.
As an example: Say you’re looking for a company to host your website. You might want to make sure they offer live chat, since you’ll want to make sure you can get an immediate response should your site go down. In that instance, you don’t want to get sent through a ticket system or to a forum.
On the flip side, great companies like Loco2 have removed their phone number from their site and still provide the exceptional customer service they’re known for — because they’re keenly aware of what their customers’ needs are.
2. Get out of your customers’ way
Self-service can be an enormous benefit to your customers — not the hindrance you may perceive it to be.
One of the better examples out there can be found over at WooCommerce. The Woo team offers WordPress themes for site owners, many of these folks being beginners. If you’ve never run a website before, even on a relatively simple platform like WordPress, know that there can be myriad headaches and questions as you take your first steps.
3. …But don’t stop at knowledge base documentation
The idea of “content as customer service” is one that many businesses can benefit from.
We’ve taken this to heart at Help Scout, taking time to create a variety of customer service resources that run the gamut of free e-books, webinars, and whitepapers that aim to help people excel in customer support. When customers ask about these sorts of topics, we have a full suite of content pieces that can help them out, instead of creating a separate reply each and every time
4. Respect your customers’ time
Do you know how long your customers wait for an initial reply? Or how long the average time to resolution is? What about how many times a customer has to go back and forth with your team before they get their questions answered to their satisfaction?
The longer you make customers wait to hear from you, the more time you give them to start exploring your competitors’ offerings. We don’t have to tell you that what gets measured gets managed — unless you’re already keeping an eagle eye on your customer service metrics, chances are there are some opportunities for optimization.
5. Recognize that ‘online service’ ≄ ‘robotic service’
When you’re working with customers online, via email or chat, the temptation can be toward a just-the-facts-ma’am style — but a pleasant tone (or any specific tone, really) is more difficult to convey via text, where you don’t have additional signifiers like swings in vocal pitch or friendly body language.
Conveying empathy via your virtual tone is critical in online customer service. One crucial skill that goes a long way with customers is mirroring — matching their tone lets them know you’re on their side. When a customer is formal, keep your tone strictly professional. If they’re more casual, relax your tone too — it’s OK to crack a joke or include a funny GIF in your reply if the customer has sent you a queue that they have a sense of humor.
6. Empower your entire team to help customers
One of the biggest benefits of conducting most of your support online is definitely the flexibility, and empowering your entire team to talk with customers and handle their questions is critical if you want to turn your support from good to great.
Why take the risk of running into a customer service trainwreck? Create a customer-centric culture into your employee’s mindsets by having everyone do support. It won’t hinder their long-term company-specific skills, and it will make sure that each employee knows how to properly talk with customers.