In 2017, American Express released a “Customer Service Barometer” and it found the following:
So what does this mean? It means that strong customer support is essential to client retention and store success. When the e-commerce economy is filled with stores just like yours, you need to stand out with stunning customer service. And we’re here to tell you just what it takes.
Let’s Break it Down
There are a few building blocks that make for a strong wall of customer support. Of course, active listening is at the top of the list. You need to be attentive to what your customer is really saying, find the root issue and try your best to resolve it. With this should come A+ communication. You never want your customer to have to read between the lines, this is a recipe for misunderstandings. Clear and concise communication will ensure that problems are resolved quickly and customers leave feeling heard and valued.
For this reason, let’s shift our mindset from “customer service” to “customer advocate”. After all, you are the one with the product knowledge and expertise. You are the perfect person to bridge the gap between what the customer wants and what your store can provide.
You can probably expect that patience would be on this list - not every issue will be a quick fix, and your customers need you to stay level headed. But have you ever considered how teamwork could play a role in customer advocacy? Whether your customer support is just you or an entire group of people, teamwork plays a vital role in solving problems. That can look like utilizing others’ expertise or even brainstorming with your customer to find the solution that works best for both parties.
That being said, the ability to take ownership of your part in the problem is essential. Nobody likes the blame game and having a thick skin and taking responsibility will show your clients that you are honest and that you care. Oftentimes, we might feel like we need to show the “perfect” sides of ourselves, but that does not translate well to the customer. Humans make mistakes and humans can’t know everything. Showcase your growth mindset and be willing to learn in every interaction. Not only will this kind of humility help build rapport with your customers, it will also lend it’s hand to another important skill in customer advocacy - improvisation. No two customers are alike, and no two problems will be exactly the same. But if you keep an open mind and are ready to think on your feet you can find some amazing new solutions to problems and have some very happy customers.
Important to Note
When you are interacting with your customers you should keep in mind your voice and your tone. Your voice is the style of communication you have for your brand. Let’s think about Old Spice. From their commercials and marketing you can tell that their voice is humorous and hyper-masculine. Voice can be a very useful tool for setting yourself apart from competitors. Tone, on the other hand, is utilizing a specific style of communication for specific situations - like when solving customer’s problems. It’s important to consider both voice and tone in every customer interaction and make sure you adapt your tone to the context. If you called Old Spice with a serious complaint and they continued to crack jokes, I’m sure you wouldn’t be too keen to buy their products again. Similarly, you need to match the tone that you are getting from the customer by using the active listening mentioned earlier. Your brand’s voice might be upbeat and personal, but if a customer’s communication style is professional and reserved, you’ll want to match that to give them the best support experience.
No business is perfect and there will always be issues. Whether they are out of your control or not, it is vital to your business that you handle them with the great care that your customers expect you to provide. Using these building blocks will help you hone your customer advocacy skills and in turn unlock the door for stronger customer retention.