Customer Support Best Practices
Share your thoughts or start a discussion on best practices around CS
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Hey Community & CX experts I am thrilled to be introducing @Micah Solomon (if you haven’t already heard of him), customer experience and customer service consultant, subject matter expert and author of 5 books today! Watch his video on the topic of his new book, ‘Ignore your customers (and they will go away)’ Customer experience is the new marketing. 93% customers say they make decisions in full or part based on word of mouth recommendations, or as Micah puts in word of thumb. From sharing a glimpse into the world of Don Draper, a fascinating conversation between an Amazon agent, Thor and a customer, Odin, and a heartwarming incident on the Seabourne Cruise Line, Micah takes us through his 5 principles for creating exceptional customer experiences - 1. Today’s customers are the enemies of stupid 2. Beware of the cliff of dissatisfaction - Perceived timeliness is what matters i.e you are able to match the consumers scheduling expectations. 3. Today’s customers prefer an eye le
We're excited to announce our fourth "Community Hours" session and bring the opportunity for you to learn from the experts and connect with the fellow members in the Freshworks developer community.REGISTER Topic:Deep-dive into Entity Storage Speakers:Harish Janjam - Product Manager at Freshworks (Follow Harish)Kaustav Das Modak - Lead Developer Advocate at Freshworks (Follow Kaustav) When:26th May 20225:30 pm IST (India)| 2:00 pm CET| 1:00 pm GMT (London)Check your time zone About the session:What is Entity Storage, when and how to use it, and the roadmap ahead Introduction to Entity Storage Comparison with other data storage features available for Freshworks apps Hands-on: Learn how to use Entity Storage by building a simple todo app Roadmap for Entity Storage Q&A What’s in it for you?The Entity Storage (entity storage) data storage feature recently went GA for apps built for Freshdesk and Freshservice, with support for more products in the pipeline.Entity Storage allows
We’re back with the fifth episode of Masters of Moment!Optimizing a customer service environment for impact demands is, first and foremost, an investment in improving personal productivity.Connecting customer service professionals partly ensure this to tools that help them do their best work. But technology is typically optimized for velocity, not efficiency - it can help you do more but not necessarily better. Unless the investment in customer service technology is supplemented with an investment in productivity training, the strain on customer service professionals to produce extraordinary results can be immense.To reconcile productivity-quality tension and ensure customer service professionals don’t fall short of their goals, prioritizing tasks that align with their strengths, business goals, and complexity of customer complaints is a valuable check. Attention is key.Join us on the 18th of May for an interesting session between Alan Berkson of Freshworks and Markus Demirci, Founder
Customers recently reported that they’d rather be stuck in a traffic jam than have a bad customer experience! We know they want things that are faster, more personalized and more pleasant. I’m excited about how chatbots, centralized customer data, and friendlier agent tools can help these experiences happen.But we know the AGENT sometimes puts on the superhero cape and gets things done - regardless of obstacles or challenges!What are some of the ways agents can help make experiences faster, more personalized, and more pleasant for the customer? Let’s share our best ideas here so others can learn and grow! (And the customers will benefit!)
Having a service recovery framework is important because, even in the best of times, it’s hard for most of us to improvise entirely from scratch without a structure to guide us and upon which to fall back. And a situation that calls for service recovery is, by definition, far from the best of times. When things haven’t gone smoothly and a customer is upset, employees are likely to feel embarrassed, or defensive, or put-upon, or angry—or all of these at once. With so much emotion flying around, it’s hard for even the most seasoned and even-tempered customer service professionals to do their best.All great customer-focused organizations have one, and they tend to form a mnemonic for easy recall under the gun. For example: Marriott’s spells LEARN; Starbucks’, quite adorably, spells LATTE.If your organization hasn’t already committed to a different service recovery system, let me offer you my own four-step MAMA service recovery framework. I expect it will stand you in good stead. [NOTE: He
🤔Next week on April 21st is Get To Know Your Customers Day.I’m writing a post about this and would love YOUR ideas.How do you get to know your customers? What do you recommend to leaders who are pretty far away from their actual customers? What do you wish you knew about your customers?It’s ironic but often as someone rises up in an organization they get farther and farther away from customers. It becomes more difficult to really stay connected to who they are and what they’re looking for.What methods or fun ideas have you seen work OR what ideas do you propose?Let’s get to know our customers!!
🖐Hi there! I’m curious what you have to say!Teams today are struggling with employees moving from one job to the next or “the great resignation” or other labor shortages. I personally have seen how delivering a great customer experience and focusing on ways to make employees more efficient and effective helps reduce employee turnover. And referred job candidates tend to get hired faster and stay longer, so it seems like a huge opportunity to encourage employees to refer others.But many organizations don’t ask current employees what they like or what the organization can provide for them to deliver a better experience. I’m curious, have you participated as an employee in a “stay” interview, not just an exit interview when you leave? Did you see changes? Did they close the loop with you on your feedback?My hope is that leaders are starting to realize the value in checking in more often with employees on their experiences. What do you think?
We’re back with the second episode of Masters of Moment!This episode is about writing, something that dominates customer service activities - be it email, chat, or conversations over social media. In customer service scenarios, as far as precedence goes, writing is purely transactional. Yet, injecting more life into all forms of written communication is the need of the hour.Writing can be every bit as effective and engaging as conversations over the phone. The right techniques can help customer service professionals investigate matters deeply, weave in emotions, and respond with great clarity and conviction. Guided practice is particularly effective in achieving these ends.Join us on Jan 21, 10 am PST/6 pm GMT for a 30-minute LIVE workshop with expert Tanya Baker on what good customer-facing writing looks like. Tanya will share simple techniques to write compellingly and informatively, and workshop a piece of customer-facing writing LIVEon Linkedin. You will have to registerfor the eve
Disha Gosalia and Micah Solomon (that’s me) tear it up--with the help of great audience questions--on the essential subject of“How to Delight Unhappy Customers.” Here’s the complete archive, courtesy of YouTube. Micah Solomon Featured InfluencerCustomer Service Consultant • Trainer • Author Forbes Senior Contributor •President and CEO, Four Aces Inc. email@example.com • micahsolomon.com
ABasic customer service takes care of customers’ expressed wishes and answers their stated questions. (The customer requests something, and you provide it to them; the customer asks a question and you answer it.) Of course, these basics are important. But world-class customer service also seeks out what’s been left unexpressed or unasked. This is a master practice of customer service and one that brings the service you provide up to an entirely higher plane. Why would customers not ask for something they would benefit from? There are three basic reasons:They’re not technically knowledgeable enough to know they would benefit from it (you, after all, are the professional, the expert) They simply don’t know that it’s available, that you offer it. They’re not an assertive person in public and they “don’t want to be a bother.” By stepping in proactively to serve them on this deeper level, you can become, and stay, head and shoulders above your competition. Plus, it’s a good feeling.
No matter how good our customer experience is today, innovation is required to a) keep up with our competition and b) keep up with the ever-growing service expectations of our customers. Here are five steps that I suggest that will drive--and sustain--customer experience and customer service innovation. 1. Set up a transparent framework for reviewing proposed innovations. For an innovation culture to thrive, you’ll want to establish a framework to submit suggestions for innovation in an organized manner and have them reviewed—within a transparent system—for potential action. USAA, the insurance and financial services giant, has used such an approach to encourage and harvest nearly 1,000 patents based on employee suggestions, most of them from non-technical employees, including a staggering 25 from a single security guard employed at the company.2. Build a blame-free culture and embrace your mistakes. Some of the best innovations come from serendipitous accidents rather than linear pro
Let's Talk About Customer Feedback Customer Feedback
Most businesses would tell you that understanding their customers is of utmost importance but often quite difficult. This naturally means that customer feedback is a valuable resource since it provides an unfiltered way to understand what customers actually think. Simple right? Not really- a study found a full 42% (you did not misread that) of Companies don’t survey their customers or collect feedback.Collecting feedback isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially at scale. Customers constantly provide unsolicited (and incredibly honest) feedback about their expereinces with a business- could be through emails, support calls, chat or social media. These inputs could offer a whole array of customer insight but only if you’re truly listening. Electronics retailer Best Buy uses NLP (natural language processing) tools to analyze billions of conversations with customers every year to understand what they needed to pay attention to and improve on. For example, when they learnt that customers were
All great customer-centric companies have what I call a default of yes, an ethos of, “The answer is yes; now what is your question?” As a customer service consultant customer service trainer, helping companies develop and sustain the default of yes is one of the most important disciplines I can share. The default of yes is a powerful, transformational principle. I can walk right into your business and tell whether you have a cultural “default of yes” or not. More importantly, your customers can too. Of course, you must be thinking: What if you can’t say yes—to a ridiculous customer request on price, deadline, and so forth? Here’s the secret: even if you can’t give a customer the exact “yes” they were hoping for, never say “no” without providing one or two reasonable alternatives. Think of it this way: “No” is a dead end,” while “Here’s what we can do” keeps the channel open. *******If you’re in a leadership position and want to work toward a default position of yes in your company or
Internal customer service isn’t exactly the same as external customer service, but it’s no less essential. Allow me to share the list below of the principles and essential subtleties of execution involved in internal customer service: internal customer service best practices/principles for transforming your company culture into one where internal customer service is a powerful force.1. Respect is expected. With no exceptions. Bullying has to be addressed immediately, no matter how high up in the organization it occurs.2. Fine points of etiquette don’t have to be the same internally as externally (for example, we can informally answer an internal extension with “Purchasing–Jim” rather than “XYZ Homewares, Jim speaking, how may I help you today?”), but the spirit of kindness must prevail.3. Through lateral service, we do more for each other, and for the company. By moving out of our assigned positions to help fellow employees when they are temporarily short-staffed, we build a stronger c
How does a culture of customer-centricity, of exceptional customer service grow? One secret, as I see it, is positive peer pressure. If you are unflagging in your devotion to trait-based hiring, you soon (or at least soon-ish) end up with a peer group devoted to exceptional customer service. At that point, you’ll be in the enviable position of potentially building an unstoppable force: positive peer pressure.For a B2C example that many can relate to, consider why the employees in an Apple Store are by and large so positive and helpful. It’s because they’ve been hired for their personalities and trained in great customer service, absolutely. But it’s also because of how it then became clear to any newly arriving employee (or veteran employee who was having a bad day) that the way things are done around here is to be friendly and helpful to customers. Apple Store interior, Micah SolomonThis is the power of positive peer pressure: it uplifts all employees and keeps their heads up if t
Your instinct, when you’re starting out on the journey toward customer-centricity, is likely to be to pursue all opportunities for improvement, all at once. The problem, inevitably, is that a focus on “all” opportunities for improvement is basically synonymous with “nothing in particular.” So, when I start a customer-centricity or customer experience improvement initiative with a client company, I suggest they initially limit their scope. You can do the same by keeping your initial focus on a limited number of areas. Here are three, each of which has a significant upside once addressed. 1. Customer pain points: the aspects of your product, processes, and business model that stand in the way of customers enjoying what you offer. To discover these, live the customer’s experience to the extent you can: Try to get a response from your company via your own webforms—does anyone respond? (I’ll bet you they don’t, or not in time to help with a buying decision.) Are there barriers gettin
It’s important to regularly check (at your company or in your department) for lapsed customer service standards (best practices). This is something that, as customer experience and customer service consultant, I stress to my clients. Including:• How quickly are your phones answered? Three rings should be your standard. (Why? Studies done by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company have determined that by that fourth ring customers will have grown worried that you'll never answer, or won’t really be on the ball if you do.) \• How quickly do you answer emails? (a standard of “within 24 hours” is unacceptable in today’s world; these days, that’s like 36 years in internet time. Commit instead to answering all inquiries the same morning or the same afternoon.) • How about webform queries that come in on your site? (You may be unpleasantly surprised if you test this one yourself; often “never” is the depressing answer to when these are ultimately replied to.)These are just three standards related to t
Connect with your customers and put them at their ease–and give your brand an “unfair advantage” –by absolutely nailing your beginnings and endings. These two points, what the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company calls the “warm welcome” and “fond farewell,” are the moments most likely to linger in your customers’ memories, due to the well-document psychological principles known as the primacy and recency effects. If you can provide comfort to your customers at these two key moments, it can create a halo over the rest of the time they spend with your brand.So how do you do it? Great beginnings (“warm welcomes”): • Answer your phone within 3 rings. Studies done by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company have established that by the fourth ring, incoming callers start to lose faith that you’ll ever answer their call--or if you do, that you’ll be competent in the service you provide. • Never make a customer feel like an interruption, even for that tell-tale microsecond at the beginning when you take the
I want to share one of my favorite principles of both conducting and explaining what great customer service looks like. It’s the principle of “plus-one” customer service.Any time you interact with a customer, strive to add a “plus one.” The “plus one” can be a do-extra: giving them more of your effort than they asked for or reasonably can expect. Or it can be a tell-extra: answering an important question they didn’t think to ask. Strive to practice “plus one” customer service whenever you can find or create a “do extra” or “tell extra” opportunity. It truly builds connection with customers, and keeps your brand/company out of the dreaded “commodity zone” where you’re considered interchangeable with the competition. ****In your day to day work with customers, do you practice “plus-one” or something similar? I’d love to hear. Micah Solomon Author • Forbes Senior Contributor • Customer Service ConsultantPresident and CEO, Four Aces Inc. 484-343-5881Click here to chat live with Micahm
Sorry for the inconvenience ?Question
Many times in customer support, you need to have challenging conversations with customers. You may encounter users who are experiencing difficulties with your product or service and who require your guidance and expertise to help them resolve the problem. ‘Sorry for the inconvenience' is one of the most commonly used expressions in such scenarios. However, it often happens that this statement is much more used and that the client finds it "less personalized". We need to constantly reinvent the wheel and offer genuine help to customers. Therefore, adopting newer, more empathetic apology statements, is a must have for a good customer experience. So, what are your alternatives to “Sorry for the inconvenience” that have worked well for you in the past? We’d love it if you can share some interesting experiences in the comments below.Here is a super cool blog by Freshcaller which explains why we must constantly reinvent the wheel and offer authentic help to customers.
You’re here, so you have a fair idea of how CX plays an important role in retaining customers and driving revenue. We’ve been hearing crazy stats like how CX initiatives by companies can actually overtake Price and Product as the key brand differentiator (Source: Walker) So now we have a question for you. What’s your take on this? Can a business thrive by only banking on stellar CX? We’d love to hear your valuable perspectives, comment away :)
Wow” Isn’t Always a Grand ProductionStories of wowing a customer via an over-the-top grand gesture (flying to a customer’s home halfway across the country to return lost jewelry, for example, as one famous story from Zappos goes), is a lovely way to spotlight employee initiative and care of customers. But not all moments of wow need to be so over the top. A wow connection can also be achieved less theatrically through the use of the right words in conversation with a customer, words that make an emotional connection that transcends the transactional.All it takes to wow my longtime customer, Mrs. Gold [not quite her real name], is to take the time to slow down an otherwise-transactional call in order to bond over her unique affinity for cats: “Mrs. Gold, we were just thinking about you here in the office: are you holding steady at 12 cats or are you [sotto voce] thinking of increasing your menagerie to 13?”Mrs. Gold knows she’s a character, knows she’s unusual. And the fifteen seconds i
The golden rule—the principle of treating others as you’d like to be treated, a philosophy that is believed to exist in every culture (in “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” or somewhat similar language) is the bedrock of customer service and hospitality the world over, and has been, you could argue, since biblical and Classical times and before: “For once I was a stranger in a strange land” and so forth. It is also the explicit basis of some of the most storied organizations that have built their growth on service. My favorite example of this being the conscious growth of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as a golden rule-powered organization, powering its growth all the way from its humble origins as ––kid you I do not– the Four Seasons Motor Hotel, based on this simple principle. The Golden Rule as a driver of CS, and ultimately of company growth, however, has taken a beating in recent, years. I know that sounds hard to believe, but in our world, one-upmanship rules the d
One of the essential success skills for a customer-facing employee is the ability to keep your attitude fresh: to see things through the eyes of your caller, without growing jaded. The principle to remember, of course, is this: Even if this is the 4,733rd case of its kind that you’ve worked on this week, to your customer it’s the only one. My favorite take on this came from a bus-tour operator at a conference for SYTA (the Student and Youth Travel Association), explaining the attitude he brought to work every day: ‘‘No matter how many times I’ve previously given a tour of the government sites in Washington, D.C., for example, I consciously work to remember that for this group of kids this tour is their ﬁrst and maybe only one.’’ What techniques are you using to keep your attitude fresh every time you connect onto a new (but oh so similar) call? Is the conscious reframing of my SYTA friend enough? Is there more that you do? I’d love to hear. Micah Solomon Author • Forbes Senior Contr
Do you, like me, believe that customer service is the new marketing: that exceptional service to our customers is the best way to generate the kind of word of mouth (or “word of thumb,” as I like to all it, when it’s delivered via our customers’ mobile devices) that can help a company both grow and sustain that growth. If so, consider a contrarian look at what is considered efficiency or productivity in our contact centers. Do you really want to reduce the AHT (average handle time)? Do you really want to tighten up the seat occupancy? These are places where lack of efficiency can really build customer connections. Certainly, if AHT is growing because your agents don’t know their material, aren’t supported properly by AI and other tools, or aren’t fully trained in the technology at hand, that’s a negative. But if AHT is significant because they’re taking the time to connect with customers, then it’s a positive, albeit one that is alloyed by the additional cost. (Just consider tha
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