The recipe of a Winning Customer Support Strategy

Poor customer service costs businesses an estimated $1.6 trillion.

Great customer support does not fall from the sky on your plate. You need the right ingredients to prepare a gourmet meal. Otherwise you will end up with a low-quality dinner and stomach ache. In the following you find recommendations for the right ingredients. Bon appetit!

Ingredient No 1: Outsourcing wisely

In case outsourcing is an option, be sure to choose a service provider that offers an excellent customer service, industry expertise with high agent skill level and an acknowledged quality track record. Assess the service provider’s strength and weaknesses and define clearly which key performance indicators (KPI) you want to achieve. You should never base your decision on the lowest pricing, but rather do research on the used technology, service offering, location and communication skills. This will give you a good insight into the service provider, their previous work and reputation. You should also take a look at the company culture. We always recommend a site visit to get a feeling of the project team and agents. How engaged are they and do they represent the same values. Make sure you share they are in line with you vision and mission. Evaluating the qualities may take some time, but it will be worth the effort.

Ingredient No 2: Integrating channels

Customers require multiple channels to communicate with your company. A customer might be fine with one channel, but may not be comfortable with another one. So the communication channels should always be updated and advanced by incorporating new contact options. Voice and phone are still important channels, but try to make the most out of the digital channels. Do not fear, but rather embrace them to offer an exceptional voice and digital support. Evaluate which channels your target customers use and communicate through the same channels. Interact in similar ways to show that you are in line with your customers. Just make sure you do not establish silos, but incorporate an omnichannel customer experience. Ensure that you are prompt at responding through the new channels and the trust and loyalty of your customers will grow.

Ingredient No 3: Enabling agents

The agents are your face to the customers. So the better they perform, the happier are your customers. A simple, but efficient formula. In order for your agents to exceed your customers’ expectations, they need all relevant information. A knowledge database is just as important as regular updates and coachings. To make it clear: Coaching is not training. It’s an individual feedback with a one-to-one approach to master the skills. It will have an immediate effect as the agents can implement the specific feedback directly in practice. You should also empower them with ownership, so that they are able to make own decisions to resolve issues and improve customer interactions. The mindset has to be result driven. For this to work the agents need to understand your strategy. If you want to retain customers, the agent will make sure that the customer satisfaction is met, instead of watching the clock to meet the average handling time. They need to understand the big picture and how they can contribute to it. A combination of regular feedback and ownership will help your agent and customer support to flourish.

Ingredient No 4: Personalize the experience

In this digitally driven world, personalized touch can bring all the difference. The unexpected personalized emailer or a handwritten note can bring all the difference and set you apart from your competitors. It can also be wonderful to revitalize an old business relationship. It works great with new as well as existing, loyal customers. Customers appreciate the time and effort you take to create a heartfelt message, note or email. Humanize the customer experience. Even the latest marketing trend is all about personalization. And when you have to hand a customer over to a different agent or manager, make sure that the customer is not feeling like they got left hanging. The agent should take the time to explain to their colleague what they have done and should always ask the customer for their current phone number or email address, in case they get cut off. Humanize the customer experience and it will have a huge impact on your customer satisfaction.

Ingredient No 5: Active listening

What do your customers want the most from your customer service department? To be heard – here it means honestly heard – especially when things have gone wrong. Whether you have an in-house customer support team or an outsourced one, coach them in the art of active listening – a task easier said than done. A lot of listening already solves half of the customer problem. Ask your customer service team to listen then reflect carefully. It is the key to effective communication. By developing this skill you will have the opportunity to win a life-long customer.

In general be also open to your agents suggestions. They listen to the mood and wishes of your customers and can give you valuable hints on how your customer service can be developed from good to great.