The Subtle Differences Between Good and Bad Customer Service
When we’re talking about chat and other messaging channels where the messages are short, the differences between good and bad support are often subtle. And they often don’t require additional time, effort, or resources but definitely puts those things to better use. Here are three examples.
A few extra words
This classic phrase, “Is there anything else I can help you with” can be a trigger for some customers because it’s so often used to try to end the conversation. It also wreaks of a canned response. I’ve explored the idea of switching this to an open-ended question like, “What else can I help you learn today?” or “How else can I assist you?” and think these are great alternatives, but I have a couple other variations to add to the mix.
- Try adding the customer’s name. Say something like, “Can I help you with anything else today, Paul?” Any time you can work the customer’s name naturally into the interaction is a win.
- Reference the specific issue you just assisted the customer with. Say, “Is there anything else I can help you with on this billing issue?”
In both of these examples it took somewhere between one and four more words to personalize the message.
A few extra seconds
One of the last things customers want to be told is that they contacted the wrong department or company. They contacted support for help and being told to contact somebody else almost surely triggers a negative response. A great way to soften the blow is to hang on the line with the customer while they contact the other company — and chat support is a perfect medium for this.
Rather than saying, “Unfortunately, I can’t handle your request here. You need to contact this other company” we can say something like, “Your request actually needs to be handled by this other company. Here’s how to reach them. I can stay on the line while you try to contact them.” Again, I didn’t add a bunch more words to make that message better, and at minimum it took me about thirty seconds to look up the support page for the other company. Waiting while the customer tries to contact another company takes almost no effort in chat support and helps keep them from feeling like we’re just trying to push them off to another company.
A few extra steps
Have you ever heard a customer say, “Why did I bother calling customer support only to hear them repeat exactly what’s on the website?” That’s always a punch to the gut when you realize that our support did nothing to enhance the customer’s experience.
In a recent example, I witnessed a customer asking about a certain percentage-based fee and how much it would cost them at the end of the day. My colleague responded with the fee that was listed on the website, but they didn’t stop there. They then opened the calculator on their computer and calculated the actual fee, showing the customer their math along the way. This is incredibly subtle and probably took an extra thirty seconds.
I daresay that if you sit down with your top performers, these are the sorts of things they’re doing to better take care of customers. In contact centers we love to “Go the extra mile” for our customers — or at least we love to carelessly throw that phrase around. I just decided that I’m going to instead say, “Go the extra couple feet” or “Go the extra thirty seconds” or “Go the extra three to five words.” My friends, the differences between bad and neutral customer experiences and great ones are sometimes more subtle than you think.
Director of Customer Experience
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience for FCR. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.