Steps to offering great customer support

No matter how much you learn about technology, there’s always something new to troubleshoot. As user-friendly as WordPress is, there is always something new to learn. And sometimes the way you learn something is by having to troubleshoot the problem. Troubleshooting WordPress is so much less frustrating when you know you can get an expert on the line to help you solve things quickly.

In the age of social media, customers have the ability to both celebrate your company and also express frustration with it. We’ve written before about how important it is to provide great support every step of the way so that your customers can see evidence of your support on social media.

But what happens when a customer just gets frustrated? And this is going to happen from time to time, despite everyone’s hard work. Either the technology is going to stump someone, or a mistake will be made, etc. The way your company handles customer frustration makes all the difference in the world..

I’ve talked about how Apple hires support folks based on the level of empathy they display to their customers who call in. Apple knows that a frustrated customer simply needs to feel like the person helping them out cares about them. Displaying empathy is the best way to develop a real relationship with your customers, and to be the best possible representative of the company you are a part of.

So what are the steps to a successful customer support interaction?

Show your customer you care about their experience first, and the problem second

What’s the difference between painful customer support and painless customer support? It’s simple. Painless customer support feels like you’re talking to a friend on the phone. You can tell they care about you, they’re actively listening to you, and you know they’re collaborating with you on a solution. Painful customer support sounds like someone is reading a script, and scripts don’t allow much room for connection.

Great customer support means relating to your clients as soon as they hop on the phone or open a ticket. It means remembering that they’re just like a family member or a friend who just needs a little help with your website.

Remember the problem is probably affecting their life or their business

Have you ever broken your smartphone? How did it feel? Terrible, right?

Not only was the phone expensive, but if your phone is broken, your ability to function screeches to a halt. You may even feel a bit of panic. Same thing with your website. If your website is down, chances are it’s going to affect every area of your business. The same will be true with all your customers. When customers have a support issue, it’s because they need expert help to get things fixed and to get back to running their business.

Say things like “Wow, I’d totally be frustrated if I was in your shoes as well”, and “Yep, that’s affecting your business, so we need to get it resolved ASAP.”  That lets your customer know that you *get it* and are engaging with them at a very deep level.

Explain what you can do to help

When a customer is feeling frustrated, it’s usually because they are uncertain about what they can do next to solve their problem. That’s why they’re calling you. They want someone to explain the steps to solve a problem, and then to let them know how they are going to take those steps, and to point out key decisions to make along the way.

Taking the time to explain concepts to your customer with language that they are familiar with is critical to their positive experience. If they’re technical, you can use technical language  If they’re non-technical, you can use analogies to explain technical concepts. The better your customer feels about the steps to resolve their trouble, the more their frustration is going to evaporate, and the more likely they are going to walk away from the interaction thinking, “Man, that company really has great support.”

Treat every interaction as if the whole world was watching

Because the whole world could be watching. It’s so simple for a customer to take a screenshot of their support ticket and share it with all their friends on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, it’s so simple that it happens all the time. This is a potential liability that is an easy reminder to be classy, respectful, honest, and patient with every single customer interaction. Always remember that if someone chooses to, they can share their customer experience with the whole world.

But wait. If they had a stellar customer experience, they can also share THAT with the world, right? Exactly. They can, and they will if you can keep providing awesome support that reminds them why they choose to be with your company over all the other companies that they could be with.

Follow-Up

Remember to come back around to ask how things are going with them. A customer relationship is just like any other relationship. The more you are able to invest time and energy into your customers, the better your relationship with them will be. When you follow-up with your customers to “just check in,” you’re communicating, “hey, I care about how things are going with your business all the time, not just when you have a problem.”

Do everything you can to make them look good

You know how awesome it is when you bring a great solution to your boss, or solve an impossible problem for them? That’s what it’s like when you do something awesome for your customers and they can take it back to their bosses. Go out of your way to make them look good once or twice, and you’re well on your way to building a real relationship between the customer and your organization. A relationship that will last for a long time.

What do you guys think? How do you approach interactions with your customers? Do you have any secrets to making their day? We’d love to hear from you.