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5 Tips to Quality Customer Support (and a story of customer support gone wrong!)

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It was 10:30 PM on a Monday and I needed to get an update out to a site for a friend of mine. The week ahead was packed and the last few hours on Monday were all I had to get these updates taken care of for his local business. I started loading up his CRM and you can imagine what happened.

Everything was slow! Sure, my concept of speed is jaded. My home network connection is gigabit, so I expect things to just work. That was not the case this time. Nope. Every click drew me into a 30+ second wait-state while the page loaded. Time was ticking away and the service that is supposed to be simple, fast, and reliable was anything but those things!

Contrary to my normal behavior, I went to the provider and looked for a chance to chat with their technical support team. Sometimes servers are under load or being updated. I can understand that. I crossed my fingers and hoped it was something simple.

They offered live chat. Great! I clicked…

Live Chat Started: Your estimated wait is 7 Minutes.

Tip #1: Communicate and set expectations.

Alright. It is late, so I am not surprised. They communicated how long I should expect to wait. This is a good start.

To initiate the chat I provided a brief summary of my technical problems. Perfect. This should allow for them to jump right in, right?

Not this time. After my 7 minute wait I was immediately hit up with an upsell to a service that I didn’t need. They were sure it would fix my problem.

Tip #2: Solve problems, don’t just sell products.

When a customer is looking for support, don’t start by trying to sell them something. Take the time to understand their problem. If what they are trying to do is above their current plan, then by all means make that clear and provide them with a quick path to a service level that will deliver their needs. But remember it is all about THEIR NEEDS, not your revenue.

As the chat continued, I was then asked for my login credentials. Seriously?! They are the tech support people. Do they not already have the ability to view what is happening with the service?

Tip #3: Re-establish Trust!

Trust is fragile. During a support call or chat your product and company are already on thin ice. Tread lightly!

When I wouldn’t give the support agent my credentials he promptly told me he couldn’t help me. At that time, I relayed my plan to call into their phone line the next day and cancel the service. He seemed perfectly fine with that.

Tip #4: Invest in your agents!

Having support agents that don’t care about your business is a great way to lose business. Ignore your customer’s problems….and they will go away!

Of course, I was frustrated, so I tweeted about my frustration. Amazingly, the social media accounts were staffed by much better agents.

Tip #5: Monitor your social media with a set of guidelines on how to reply.

The reality of the situation was that the company was experiencing a DDoS at the time, so there was a legit reason for the service to be slow. A simple answer by a well trained support agent would have made this all a non-issue. I would still like working with the company and using their services. I would have even been a fan of their service. For more advice on how to handle support via social media, Micah Solomon has a great article at Forbes: 5 Social Media Customer Service Best Practices to Handle (or Prevent) Customer Complaints.

When it comes to engaging with your customers, make sure that you invest the time, training, and energy into your people. They are often the frontline defense when a customer is considering leaving. Retaining a customer is much more affordable and valuable than going out and getting a new one to replace a user that churned.

Customer Complaints Should Be Taken Seriously

Customer complaints should be listened to and appreciated. It is an important way to improve products and services, to satisfy customers and keep them.

Complaints from customers should be appreciated and taken seriously. They should be listened to and noted since these complaints serve as a gauge what the customers have in mind, and can be a basis for how a business can improve relationships with customers.

Here are steps to make customers feel that their complaint is important and that their problem is being taken seriously with careful attention:

Show Genuine Concern about the Customer Complaint

This means listening and building rapport with the customer. After an agreement from both parties that a problem exists, a sincere apology should be given for the inconvenienced customer. It acknowledges the business concern, at the same time without admission of an outright fault. This paves the way towards a resolution.

Take Notes and Track the Issues

Recording and keeping track while the customer relates the complaint shows they are being listened to and taken seriously towards a resolve to rectify the problem.

Repeat What They Say to Confirm

Asking the customer to repeat certain phrases to ensure what they mean, assures the customer that they have been understood. The business owner should further probe for any underlying issues that may have been overlooked by the customer.

Give a Realistic Commitment

It is important to relay to the customer what will be done with their complaint. The business owner or manager should be specific about the action to be taken. A realistic commitment should be reiterated to the customer, giving them assurance that the utmost care is being taken in their best interest.

Follow up Shows Care

After the customer complaint has been resolved, the business owner or manager can initiate a call to see how the customer is doing, ask them how things are going to their satisfaction.

It is important to properly handle customer complaints to retain good rapport. Working a systematic process of handling customer complaints further develops the well-being of the business. This is an important part in the Customer Satisfaction Management process. In particular, for a customer service related business, the team or entire customer service staff should undergo customer complaints training as a part of the process.

This article is contributed by Sam Clarks, SEO expert from SEO Vancouver Pro. He manages growth marketing and inbound strategy for SMBs. His areas of writing include CRO, blogging, eCommerce analytics and Tech.

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