At Gorgias, we know customer support inside out. We know how hard it is to build a team of excellent support agents, manage hundreds of tickets every day, make customers happy with the responses, and maintain productivity while working from home.
That’s why we always think of our customer support team as superheroes — each of them plays a key part in running Gorgias smoothly and contributing to the overall success of our company. We’re proud of our heroes, and we want to help you build your own team of heroes too.
Last week, we created a survey asking our customer support team to share their best strategies for doing their best job. Today, we’ll share those strategies with you.
In this post, you’ll learn their most practical tips in this post — everything from how they deal with angry customers to what they do to maintain productivity.
Here they are:
Tips for Delivering Better Customer Support
1. Anticipate Customer Needs
You sense a customer might need help with finding information about an item, so you reach out to them and offer support — you don’t wait for them to come to you.
By doing so, you help the customer solve their problem and give them a good impression, which likely makes them want to add the item to their cart and make a purchase. That’s the power of being proactive in customer service.
Anticipate the client’s needs. Sometimes, the client won’t really know what they need, and it’s up to us to help guide them.
— Milos Ivanovic, Support agent @Gorgias
2. Response Fast
Speed matters in customer service because no one wants to wait for hours or days just to receive an answer to the question, “what is the shipping cost?”
If you don’t give customers what they want at the time they want it, they’re more likely to switch to your competitors.
Need proof? Forrester’s data shows that “53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question; 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.”
That said, Aleksandra, our Customer Support Manager, notes that while being fast and responsive is important, you should avoid rushing. “Rushing can lead to some easily avoidable errors, so always take your time and double-check everything,” she said.
3. Be Human
Being empathetic, polite, friendly, helpful, and patient are the foundation of customer support and customer relationship management. Those are the skills every support agent should master from day one.
“If you’re giving a negative response, avoid just providing the answer without any empathy (example: ‘unfortunately, no’), but include a more sincere and empathic reply, with a personal approach so that they believe you,” Marija Danilovic, one of our fantastic support agent.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Sometimes, customers may not understand the exact problem they’re going through, so they may give you a vague question. In this situation, ask them before providing a solution.
Think and then think again. If you do not come up with a solution after that, ask the client for clarification. They are often happy to elaborate further. Also, contact your colleagues for additional insight and help. There is no shame in that.
— Aleksandra, Customer Support Manager @Gorgias
5. Know Your Products
Each support agent must have a deep knowledge of products and always stay on top of any new updates. The better you know about what you’re selling, the more confident you’re when replying to customers’ inquiries.
Our support team emphasized that when you guide customers to do something, for example, completing the checkout process, you should always ensure that the information is correct. “Otherwise, they might be stuck doing something that does not work or is deprecated, and they will not be happy about it,” Alek shares.
6. Exceed Customers’ Expectations
Do the extra mile for customers as long as it’s within the scope of support. For example, show customers a couple of product recommendations to choose from. Also, give them a clear explanation, rather than just informing them of what went wrong.
Try to go above and beyond to meet the customer’s needs.
— Aleksandra, Customer Support Manager @Gorgias
Tips for Making Use of Rules and Macros
Auto tags, auto close, and Shopify action macros (like change shipping address or cancel order) are what our support team recommends you create from the get-go. Because these rules and macros will help you simplify your work process and save tons of time to do other tasks.
For auto-close rules, use them to close any tickets that aren’t from your customers, like spam or marketing messages. By doing this, any tickets that don’t need attention from your agents will be closed automatically, and your agent can focus solely on the tickets that customers submit.
Tips for Dealing With Angry Customers
1. Keep Your Composure
Angry customers can make it hard for you to keep calm, but if you lose your cool in those situations, things can be bad. Your customers won’t be happy and start spreading unpleasant words about your business across social media, which you never want to happen.
Here are some tips from our team:
- Handle angry customers’ requests urgently. Try to calm them down, and if possible, involve others to reassure the customer their issue will be resolved.
- Always approach customers with a direct explanation and soft skills. Don’t let the situation affect your emotions.
Be the coolest friend ever to those customers, that’s the secret
— Richard, Support Agent @Gorgias
2. Put Yourself in Customers’ Shoes
Trying to understand customers’ problems first goes a long way. Because when you do that, you see things with their eyes and practice empathy.
It’s important to put yourself in their position and understand their point of view. It’s also crucial to be as polite and apologetic as possible — but not too apologetic in case the issue is not caused by our system or human error. Let them see that you really understand how they’re feeling and convince them that you’re taking care of it.
— Marijana, Support Agent @Gorgias
3. Be Transparent About What Happened
Be absolutely transparent with whatever happened, as your customers likely get agitated when they feel they’re being given the runaround.
Your customers need to know you’re always doing 120% to help them resolve whatever issue they’re experiencing. If the problem was from your end, you need to communicate what you’re doing to avoid it happening again.
Customer Service Metrics You Should Pay Attention
1. Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is of prime importance for our business in general and our customer support team in particular. All of our efforts are focused in the same direction: we strive to make you happy and delight you as much as possible.
That’s why we pay most attention to the customer satisfaction (CSAT) metric, as Milos explains, “the most important thing is that the client is satisfied, and for every client different things will matter (speed of resolution, good explanation, quick first response time), but they will all reflect in CSAT.”
“CSAT is a direct feedback from the customers if they are satisfied with how you handle their concerns.”
— Shem, Support Agent @Gorgias
2. Resolution Time
The next metric you should care about is resolution time because it shows how fast you resolve customers’ issues. It also has a huge impact on CSAT.
3. First Response Time
First response time is the time between the first message from a customer and the first response from your agent. It shows how long your customer waits until they feel that you’re working on their issue.
You can use this metric to determine the typical amount of time it takes to get in touch with your shoppers when they open a new ticket. And, since they expect you to reply swiftly, this should be your goal.”
Mistakes to Avoid as Support Agents
1. Interrupt Customers
One of the most critical rules in customer service is never interrupting customers. Because if you do it, your customers may think you don’t want to listen to them and don’t respect them. As a result, they won’t be happy and leave you immediately.
2. Use the Wrong Language
Words can affect us in a good or bad way. Researchers even stated that “the way businesses have used language to persuade, satisfy, or rectify has been more art than science.”
Our customer support team understands the power of words well. That’s why we always use positive words and avoid phrases that could be interpreted as rude.
Using insincere/rehearsed responses at the wrong time (such as ‘I understand,’ when you couldn’t have possibly been in that situation, or before the issue is even presented, etc.). When explaining something to the customer, try to be brief and efficient, and avoid long sentences and long conversations in general, as some customers may view that as wasting time, especially if the issue is not complicated and could’ve been resolved sooner.
— Marija, Support Agent @Gorgias
3. Heavily Rely On Canned Responses
Using canned responses is a good way to quickly answer customers’ tickets. But it can backfire if you rely too much on canned responses without modifying them according to specific cases.
The best practice is to personalize canned responses based on customers’ questions. Avoid using them when you’re not clear about what a customer is trying to say.
Also, if you can’t find a relevant canned response, ask your teammate to look into it. Never use a canned response just for the sake of giving customers an answer while you know it doesn’t help.
Tips for Improving Productivity for Your Support Agents
1. Do One Ticket at a Time
Chatting with a customer while taking notes and reading other customers’ tickets is common among support agents. But if you continuously do that, you can easily mix tickets up or get overwhelmed. No matter how hard you try to do many things at once, multitasking only kills your productivity.
Here’s what Milos advises you to do: “Take one ticket at a time and focus on resolving it. Don’t get too stressed out, and if you do, find a way to deal with it in a constructive manner. Don’t take things personally; sometimes the client just has a bad day, enjoy the praises instead.”
2. Get Up and Move Around
Aleksandra explains that sitting for prolonged periods of time in one place takes both a mental and a physical toll on you, even if you don’t notice it at first. “I know people who forget to eat or even take a bathroom break because they get so engrossed in their work and although they feel that, at that moment, they are super-productive, they burn out very quickly.”
If you have horrible posture, she recommends that you do back exercises and some other light ones outside of your shift. “It’s an awesome way to relieve stress! You don’t have to lift weights, just riding your bike for a bit or having a jog can help,” she says.
Apart from that, you should also give yourself regular water, coffee, or tea. But Aleksandra advises avoiding energy drinks. “I am saying this from experience, as someone who was addicted to soft drinks and drank several cans a day + about 3 cups of coffee on top of that. The temporary adrenaline hit is not worth it and it will degrade your health,” she explains.
3. Set Daily Goals
Setting daily goals will guide you through what you need to work on and achieve every day. When you consistently accomplish your daily goals, you’ll have more motivation to keep doing your job.
According to our excellent support agent Sandra Alvarenga, you should think about immediate goals and long-term goals.
For immediate goals, consider:
- Latest internal updates from your team, for example, new issues, new tickets, changes in inventory, etc.
- Pending tickets that remained unresolved from the day before. For example, if you asked for help from your manager or other agents, did they help with the issue? Do you need to follow up or further troubleshoot with the customer?
- Anything that you need to keep an eye on. Did you receive any requests to handle urgent tickets from your boss? Do you have any call requests that you need to book for the day?
For long-term goals, consider:
- Provide feedback, tips, and training to the members of your team who have less time than you to improve as a team.
- Learn product knowledge and customer service skills so you can do your work better.
Sandra shares that since immediate goals aren’t easily controlled, you can make a mental list of them at the beginning of your shift. Meanwhile, long-term goals are more stable, so you can plan in advance how you want to set them up. “I like to stay on top of the most immediate matters since the start of my shift, and I also try to assign more time that is needed to each goal because I know the unexpected can happen,” she adds.
Sometimes things may be out of your control. In that case, don’t stress yourself out if you can’t complete your goals by the end of the day. Instead, share with your team about your roadblocks — they may give you great tips to improve yourself.
Working in support means there are many things out of your control, so adapting and learning fast from those experiences will become your best ally.
— Sandra Alvarenga, Support Agent @Gorgias
4. Play Music Before Starting to Work
Playing your favorite songs or music is an effective way to start a day and “get in the zone.” It improves your mood and energizes you, as research explains, “the pleasant state that can be induced by music leads to special physiological changes which eventually lead to stress reduction or direct immune enhancement.”
“Depending on my mood or the type of work I am focused on, I switch between Lo-Fi, synthwave, medieval-inspired instrumental music, or classic compositions. I seldom listen to any music with text in it — I am more focused on the melody. It can help me relax, focus on my tasks, or simply drown out external noise. As for the headphones, I recommend using something that is super-comfortable and sits on your head nicely. My recommendation is any headset from HyperX, they have great noise cancellation, and you will not even notice you have them on.” — Aleksandra Pavic, Customer Support Manager, @Gorgias
5. Prepare Your Workspace
One of the biggest challenges when working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. That’s why it’s important to have a dedicated corner to work so you can stay as productive as in the office.
Here are some tips to help you set up your workspace, according to our customer support hero Marijana Coric:
- Use good natural lighting, a nice comfy chair, and a few decorations to bring comfortableness to your workspace.
- Declutter your desktop regularly. Divide documents into different folders so you can find stuff easily when needed. Also, save your favorite answer templates into a separate folder — it’ll help you reduce response time and provide consistent service.
- Write a task plan for the workday and then cross out everything that is done from the list. Doing this will please you from the results of the past day and motivate you for the next one.
Start Applying These Support Tips to Your Team
There you have it — best support tips from our world-class customer service team.
We hope that you learn a thing or two on improving your support skills and managing your support agent team. Use our tips today to ensure every response you give customers provides value and helps you create an exceptional customer experience.