Today, providing great customer experience is a necessity. At every touchpoint along the customer journey, there is potential to make it or break it with your company. Positive interactions will go a long way in serving your customers and winning their loyalty.
When researching how to best support your customers, there are a number of great articles out there. Companies like Zappos, Chick-fil-A, and USAA have raised the bar in how we look and think about our customers. Many of these B2C concepts can and should be applied in an enterprise world, but there are a few extra things that should be considered when providing customer support to the enterprise.
Over the years, I've seen many situations as part of the Liferay Support and Customer Experience teams. I’d like to share five essential tips that you can hopefully implement in your customer experience strategy.
1. Answer as quickly as possible
When a customer is reaching out to you, it usually means there’s a problem that needs resolving quickly. Even if you can’t fix it immediately, do your best to simply begin the process. Whether customer support is done through the phone or web, make sure there are people available to respond within a short amount of time. The longer a customer is waiting to hear back, the more they’ll be wondering whether they are important to you.
2. Listen & acknowledge what your customers are saying
Once you’re engaging with the customer, let them talk. Keep your interruptions to a minimum (though it's okay to ask clarifying questions). Give your customer your undivided attention, so they're reassured that you’re not just in a rush to move onto the next ticket. Remember, you’re not merely trying to solve a problem—you’re trying to create raving fans.
Once they’ve explained the issue, you should acknowledge their concerns. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer's issue is always legitimate; the problem might not have anything to do with your product or service. But what you want to do is acknowledge their pain points and understand that they’re experiencing frustration. At this point, the customer is simply looking for a promise of resolution, so you want to ensure that you will do whatever you can to help.
3. Set up a proper game plan
During the conversation, start thinking of ways you can help your customer (without compromising on listening). Can you solve the problem immediately? If not, can you at least begin the resolution process? Also, what information can you look into that will help ease the frustration? Once you’ve identified the problem and come up with a game plan, simply state the following: “Here’s what we want to do for you …” Then state your customer support plan.
4. Provide reasonable due dates
One of the biggest questions that your customer will have is, “When is this going to get resolved?” If you already know when a solution will be delivered, give it to them before they ask. This shows that you understand their time is important and gives them the ability to make any necessary arrangements.
What if you can’t give them a timeline as to when the issue will be fixed? The good news is that people aren’t always expecting an immediate solution. Let them know when they should expect to hear back from you, and that you will be reporting deliverables or, at the very least, an update during that time. Setting this designated period not only gives you time to figure out the issue, but also allows them to return with any further details or information to help with the process.
If you've correctly understood the issues, and proposed a proper customer support plan to move forward, you only have one step left: execute. Set out to do what you said you would do. Bring in the proper team members to help you resolve. Make sure you respond at the time you said you would, if not earlier.
These are the steps that I've taught to every team member I've mentored, and they've been fundamental in their success while serving our customers. (They're a part of the reason why our customers have rated our customer support as one of the best for portal vendors in terms of quality and effectiveness.)
Of course, the key to all of these steps is the principle of putting the customer first. Your internal structure could look a little different, but as long as you are committed to providing a good experience for your customers, you'll be trending in the right direction.