Today, customers know more than ever before. They have access to customer reviews via social media, use self-service resources to educate themselves on products and services, and are well-versed on the web to find the information they need. With 4.33 billion active internet users across the globe, there’s no doubt that your customers are browsing your website, social media platforms and review sites to get to know your brand.
While we’d like to think that every website visit has positive intentions, some customers may come to complain or discuss their negative experience. These situations often require an effective customer service conversation, one in which your agents can turn what started as a discussion with a dissatisfied customer into a positive situation. With the right skills and resources, you can train your agents to conduct effective customer service conversations that leave your brand with a positive reputation.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what defines effective customer service conversations, some of the benefits that come with having an optimal customer service team and how Kustomer can help your agents better support your customers.
What Is Effective Customer Service?
Effective customer service is a term used to describe a set of best practices to proactively respond to today’s customers, whose access to the internet empowers them to directly contact brands and potentially ding their reputations, influencing other customers’ decisions. It can help your organization get ahead of potential issues before customers are even aware of a problem and even create opportunities to build loyalty and generate sales.
In an episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, hosted by Kustomer’s VP of Growth Gabe Larsen, titled “How Customer Service Has Transformed Over the Last 20 Years,” Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum joined Larsen to discuss how the customer experience has drastically evolved thanks to the adoption of online support. Today, many customers are using live chat to connect with brands for support, and will only continue to do so in the future.
When a customer service conversation occurs, agents are expected to support each person in a way that will drive loyalty and retention. On the podcast, Birnbaum shared his thoughts on the topic and how customer service staff can step up their game to ensure an effective conversion:
“I would say make sure you’re supporting your customers in the way that they want to be supported. Right? … The bar is going up and up every single day, right? … When you have a bad experience, you’re taking it to Twitter, you’re telling all your friends about it, right? So over-index on those amazing support experiences and the ways to do that would be through the higher caliber of agents here that are very well trained and then a tool that’s going to enable those agents to be successful. And certainly, our product can help you do that. But I would focus on that. I think that’s one of those amazing support experiences that will drive customer loyalty and retention.”
To have an effective customer service conversation goes beyond setting the bar high, however. Customer service agents should be well equipped with not only the skills and knowledge needed to provide positive interactions — they can also benefit from valuable resources to streamline their response. Overcoming tricky situations may be intimidating and difficult to navigate, but the right response tools can ease the process. Here are a few ways to have a more effective customer service conversation:
Have the right skills.
According to Indeed, some of the top customer service skills include: communication, empathy, patience, active listening and quick thinking. A customer service representative should be equipped with these skills to handle tricky situations as they arise.
Remember: Not all customers are created equal.
In another episode of “Customer Service Secrets,” Peter Fader, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, joined Larsen to discuss why focusing on the right customer gives companies a major advantage. He said that customer treatment simply isn’t “one-size-fits-all,” and focusing on the customers that can bring more value to the company are the ones that can really help the business grow.
Take in customer feedback.
Allow customers to rate the conversation or provide feedback to help agents improve the customer experience based on past interactions.
Top 5 Benefits of Effective Customer Service Conversations
Effective customer service conversations can go a long way. When customers feel empathy and receive a personal response from the company, both the customer and the business win. Here are some of the many benefits:
1. Positive Brand Reputation
When customers feel more comfortable sharing their questions and concerns with your company, it could impact the outlook they have on your business entirely. An Accenture Strategy Research Report found that 42% of consumers will stop giving a brand business if they’re frustrated with the company. Additionally, 21% of those consumers admit that they’ll never go back after walking away. An effective customer service conversation can solve issues before they turn into lost business.
2. Customer Loyalty and Retention
When customer service conversations go well, consumers are more likely to continue purchasing a brand’s products or services regularly. According to a 2017 Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report, 95% of customers surveyed across the globe consider effective customer service to be one of the most important factors in determining their loyalty to a brand.
3. Repeat Business
Customer loyalty goes a long way; it generally means that repeat business is inevitable. In fact, according to the Accenture report, nearly half of consumers spend more money with companies that they’re loyal to. An effective customer service conversation can help consumers feel more comfortable and confident in your business — enough to come back for more products or services — especially if a problem is solved or a relationship is built during the conversation.
4. Competitive Advantage
Companies within the same industry are constantly searching for strong differentiators, but customer service has become a competitive priority. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 89% of companies compete on the quality of their customer service on its own. An effective customer service conversation, via live chat, social, emails or customer care line, can be what sets your business apart from industry competitors and keeps customers choosing your business over their other options.
5. Friendly and Helpful Customer Service Staff Members
Effective customer service conversations don’t only have an impact on your consumers and the bottom line of your business; they also largely affect your support team. The Microsoft service report found that 30% of customers say that speaking with an agent who is both knowledgeable and friendly are the two most important factors during a customer service interaction. Staff members can feel a sense of satisfaction by having effective customer service conversations, motivating them to be even more helpful and friendly for future interactions.
How Kustomer Can Help You Support Your Customers
Kustomer’s business model is built around helping companies better connect with their customers to meet their expectations. With the Kustomer CRM you can achieve continuous omnichannel conversations by using artificial intelligence as a supplemental tool to aid agents and deflect low level support.
Consumer expectations are shifting. In our research, we discovered that CX professionals believe live chat (79%), social media (72%) and SMS (56%) will become more popular in the next three years while legacy channels like voice will stay the same. It’s important for your organization to prioritize these channels in order to deliver effective customer service.
Unsure on where to start? We’ve put together a five-step guide on how to develop a more efficient and effective customer service strategy at your organization.