Phone, e-mail, live chat, social media, video assistance, FAQ, self-service… the list goes on. The channels through which customer support agents can communicate with customers are undoubtedly increasing alongside technological advancements. Whilst there are different strategies to nail your interactions via each channel, industry studies show that the bulls-eye when it comes to providing top quality support is treating customers like humans.
In an age where companies are overtly data-driven, it is easy to slip into the mindset of treating customers like a number. Here’s a simple guide to making sure your team hasn’t gone full R2D2 and help breathe a little bit of life into your customer interactions.
If you’ve ever worked in a call center, you’ll know this is the first thing they teach you. “Build rapport, talk about the weather”- said every team lead ever. Although this is okay, the more authentic your rapport with the customer, the more human not only the issue but the whole interaction will feel.
If the customer asks you how your day was, be honest. “I’m good, my kids kept me up all night so I’m a bit more tired than usual. But hey, it’s nearly the weekend. Do you have any plans?” This mutually humanizes the situation, breaking down the agent | customer barrier. Making it easier to solve the issue more quickly and with a higher rate of satisfaction.
Whilst a big part of making your support human-centric is not sounding like a robot (hence the R2D2 reference), a very important aspect is to make the interaction feel personal.
What do I mean by that? Try not to make the customer feel like they are talking to a business by avoiding phrases like “we” and “our company”. Quality support is defined by compassion, and the best way to do so is to be personal. Use the first-person pronoun, “I know how you feel” or “I understand, I have experienced that before as well…”
Another simple way to make the customer feel comfortable is to use their name. According to Dale Carnegie, using a customer’s name “is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. Whilst, of course, there are limitations, being personal allows the customer to feel more relaxed, respected and lead to a smoother resolution.
Mirror your customer’s tone
A large part of a customer feeling comfortable throughout their contact with a support agent is letting them know you’re on the same page. Mirroring a customer’s tone or energy is a way to let them know that you’re human, just like them, and that you’re here to help.
What do I mean by mirroring? If a customer addresses you with, “Dear to whom it may concern”, refrain from using laughing emoticons and stick with a more formal style of dialogue. On the other hand, if they establish an informal tone, go with it. Ask them how their day was or introduce a little bit of humor to keep the mood light. You can often feel the tone within the first two sentences of your interaction, once you’ve identified it, go with the flow.
Use Emoticons 🙂
Are you worried that using emojis in your customer interactions may be getting too familiar or unprofessional? As long as you don’t use them like you most likely do in your friendship group chat, they can actually be beneficial in establishing your emotional presence with the customer.
Studies show that customers rate the service of agents that use emoticons in their support higher than those that don’t. Whilst, they’re not suited for everyone, emoticons can create a light-hearted tone within a conversation and allow the customer to understand the agent’s empathy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
As cliched as it sounds, it is true. We all make mistakes, we’re only human. Yes, some mistakes are worse than others, and potentially not as accepted by customers. However, if you make an honest mistake. Own it. Being transparent with the customer lets them know that they are interacting with someone that is going to tell them the truth, no matter how badly it portrays their company.
Say perhaps you accidentally send a customer a link to an Air BnB you’re planning to book instead of a link to your Zendesk Help Center. Stay calm. Rather than blaming it on Amy on the desk next to you, be honest. “I’m so sorry about that, that definitely isn’t our help center. Here’s the correct link. What did you think of the place though ;)?” Again, read the tone of the situation, but letting the customer know they are communicating with a mere mortal will make them feel comfortable in resolving the problem at hand.