This infographic by Five9 does a good job of tying together reasons customer support on social media is so critical. Especially interesting is the number of customers who prefer phone support, coupled with the number of customers who are dissatisfied with that support. It seems the availability of alternate service choices could cause preferences to shift.
Have you ever been conducting a business transaction with someone that seems to be going really well, and then something the person says something that seems to come out of left field? That happened to me recently. My husband and I were buying a car at a car dealership. Everything seemed to be going fine. Our salesman was helpful, courteous, and seemed very personable. He asked about children, how we like Atlanta, and engaged in the other usual pleasantries. But, right before we left, he made a disapproving comment about the political affiliation he assumed one of the subsidiaries of my employer had. Wait, What? How did we get there? It was a very strange comment that really served no purpose except to turn the mood awkward. I thought that odd, coming from a car salesman, whose livelihood depends in part on establishing and maintaining good relationships with people.
So, I thought perhaps we could all use a few reminders on proper social etiquette. Here are 5 things to remember.
5 Tips on Customer Care Etiquette
- Be Professional – Keep the conversation to business and common pleasantries like the weather, sporting events and kids. Stay away from politics, religion and personal views.
- Be Positive – Customers appreciate a positive experience. If they have a negative experience while interacting with your brand, they may associate your brand with negative emotions. Nobody wants that.
- Remain Focused – Remember your customer is the center of attention during any business transaction. Do not ask the customer to wait while you handle routine tasks like finishing an email or talking to a colleague. Handle the customer first.
- Eliminate Interruptions – While working with customers, advise colleagues or vendors to wait until the customer transaction is complete. Your customer may question your priorities if you ask them to wait while you chat with, say, the delivery man or your receptionist. In social media, interruptions and distractions can increase your handle time.
- Say “Thank You” – Customers have a choice of vendors. When they choose you, show your appreciation. Besides, nobody hears “thank you” enough, do they? So, say thank you.
Try these out. Start today. I can tell you I do not want to be the subject of a blog post like this. I would much rather have someone write about the exceptional service I delivered and the great memories they have of their interaction with me.
When a customer is upset, and needs something, expects something, is angry about something, it can be stressful. Sometimes the fiery words you are reading can cause your own anxiety level to increase. the can also cause an urge to act quickly to squash the negative energy coming at you. This urge for quick reply is natural, but can be counterproductive.
With agitated customers, sometimes the best thing to say is… nothing. Wait. Be patient, and listen. This can be done in person, over the phone, or electronically. Allow the customer to vent and say all of the things they need to say before you respond at all. On longer form platforms like forums and Facebook this is pretty easy. The customer is typically done venting by the time the post is published. However on Twitter, you can’t be so sure. Give it a minute to see if another post pops in. Responding too quickly there can seem like an interruption. On the phone or in person, I recommend just… being silent. Active listening sometimes suggests head nodding and little sounds that indicate you are indeed paying attention. I find that when customers are really angry, pure silence provides room for them to really get it all out. Whether we are the true cause of the angry outburst or not, it really is a nice gift to another person to just allow them room to vent and be unhappy. Another positive side effect of listening to the customer’s full monologue before offering assistance is that you get a complete picture of what the actual root cause is. A customer may begin discussing one single issue that causes frustration, but then lead into several other events and before you know it, you’ve arrived at the bigger issue.
So next time a customer pops open a giant can of “What-for” on you, resist the urge to start apologizing and fixing right away. Try as hard as you can to just let them vent, and vent, and vent until it’s all out. Being a customer myself, I can admit (though it is a bit embarrassing) that I’ve been that customer that vented before. What’s interesting is I usually wound up apologizing to and thanking the people that allowed me to vent. You might have the same thing happen to you.
I know Valentine’s Day is over, but I think this infographic by Salesforce is full of simple, timeless customer service basics.
Customer Service Training: 10 Ways to find true love with Customers — Brought To You By Desk.com