Customer Expectations & 30 Easy Strategies To Improve Your Customer Support Satisfaction
- Give them benefit of doubt
- Listen carefully
- Let them hear you smile
- Own the problem
- Communicate with a purpose
- Organize it for the customer
- Be strategic
- Don’t waste customer’s time
- Don’t ask the customer to repeat
- Deliver coherent messaging
- Earn their trust
- Don’t tolerate misbehaving customers
- Show promise land
- Give expert recommendations
- Retain experience
- Check stats
- Memorialize important decisions
- Show empathy
- Look out for changing requirements
- Seek competing alternatives
- Make them wish
- Reward favors
- Know your neighbors
- Step in their shoes
- Be patient
- Know important dates
- Be an expert
- Prioritize what hurts
- Fortify your brand
- Help them Save
"The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways." - Richard Branson
Every product/service/solution has problems from time to time - your Customers know that. In spite of that they choose to do business with you and buy your product. It is the job of your customer support organization to enable the customer to go from ‘marketing claims’ of your product to ‘realized value’.
There is no better way for the customer to express vote of confidence in your business than to repeatedly buy your product or even recommend that product to others. For a customer to recommend your product means they are putting their own credibility behind that recommendation. They ‘expect’ your product to be as beneficial for the new customers as it was for them. So understanding the expectations of your customer is critical for you.
Customer Expectation Buckets
These are the basic elements of the contract between your product and the customer. The product must work as described and the customer must realize the value for their money.
You have onboarded the customer effectively to the point that they effortlessly apply your solution every time they encounter that problem. Every time they get more value out of your product and they can count on you for reliable support. You have delivered more value than the customer paid for. This when the customer is likely to give a positive review of your product.
Your product empowers the customer to solve many more problems than what the customer initially bought your product for. Your product enables the customer to become a hero in their domain. This is when the customer is motivated to go out of their way and recommend your product.
"Customers may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel." - Unknown
Obviously you want to delight the customer who pays for your product to solve a problem and improve customer satisfaction metrics. Needless to say that your product must solve that specific problem completely and satisfactorily for the customer. But there are practical challenges in entertaining every expectation your customer has from your product. The famous quality-cost-speed golden triangle shows the mutual compromises necessary in prioritizing either of the quality, cost or speed. If you try to deliver all three, you might end up compromising all three.
Depending on your industry vertical, the customer profile as well as the positioning of your product, your customer will have implicit as well as explicit expectations from your product which in turn influences how you can improve customer satisfaction.
You will need to deeply understand these customer expectations and design your support processes to compensate for the difference between the marketing claims as well as the realizable value of your product/solution.
30 easy strategies to improve customer support satisfaction
1. Give them benefit of doubt
Assume that the customer is contacting you because they cannot resolve the issue themselves even after trying their best. Don’t doubt/insult their intelligence. Facilitate the resolution of the problem in the first interaction with the customer.
2. Listen carefully
Note down the language and terminology the customer uses to explain their problem. Make a note of all the specifics and facts for the customer’s problem. Then explain their problem back to them in your words and confirm you understood their problem correctly. Set clear expectations for what you will do during this interaction. Try not to throw technical jargon, acronyms, names of hidden product components or unrelated facts into the conversation. Use spoken language with simple words and short sentences. Show empathy and avoid any sarcasm, personal opinions on unrelated sensitive topics or unprofessional language. This is arguably the most important and the easiest way to understand your customer's expectations as well as to improve your customer's satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Let them hear you smile
Make them aware that you are capable, willing and happy to help them resolve their problem. You definitely don’t want to keep the customer guessing whether you are upset or under stress. Observe basic manners and decency ( “Thank you”, “Please”, “Welcome”...) both verbally or in writing. It may not be a big deal usually, but customers notice it when you forget them occasionally. Say their name with a ‘Thank you’ at the end.
4. Own the problem
You may not be the account leader for that customer, but become the CEO of that problem for that customer. If it is a new problem with your product, dig in and fully understand the circumstances around the problem, document it diligently and work with the rest of your team to find a solution. You rest when the problem is appropriately resolved and the customer understands your recommendation.
5. Communicate with a purpose
It is essential that your communications are all honest, consistent, clear, unambiguous and for the purpose at hand. When the answer is a ‘No’, say so with confidence, empathy as well as documented explanation. Also, when you know that your product is not the right fit for customer’s needs, educate the customer and advise accordingly. While optimism is an important part of a positive customer experience, your team must also remain realistic about solutions. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver.
6. Organize it for the customer
People take the path of least resistance, generally speaking. Be deliberate about presenting your product or guidance in a way that requires the least amount of effort from the customers to follow. Interactive decision trees and navigable flowcharts are great examples of structured guidance because each time the customer makes a choice 50% of the irrelevant information is eliminated, making it near effortless for the customer to reach your recommendations. Remove any friction for your customers and that in turn will improve your customer satisfaction ratings.
7. Be strategic
Train your team to provide strategic guidance to your customer. Customers don’t contact you so that you can read manual pages to them. Peel the strategic layers of the onion for them and narrow down into a customized recommendation. Interactive decision trees not only save time but also help streamline support strategies across large teams. These decision trees allow your team to be human while talking to your customers and the same time stay consistent with your overall support strategy.
8. Don’t waste customer’s time
If you can’t help right now, take the responsibility to resolve the problem, and tell them you will get back to them in a reasonable time so they can get on with their other work.
9. Don't ask the customer to repeat
It is your responsibility to study the past interaction notes with this customer and be fully aware of the customer’s problem description. People hate explaining the same problem again to another person from the same team.
10. Deliver coherent messaging
Regardless of the channel your customer chooses to engage with your support function (knowledgebase, interactive decision trees, navigable flowcharts, email, chat, phone or in-person), the same guidance must be delivered without any discrepancies.
11. Earn their trust
Follow through on what you or your product has committed to the customer. Appologize if you drop the ball - its better to acknowledge your mistake than to ignore your customer’s problem. Always follow up to confirm their problem was properly resolved. Send them a detailed summary of ‘their description of the problem’ and then your explanation of the solutions with clear recommendations.
12. Don't tolerate misbehaving customers
Your team is your biggest asset and they need to be treated as professionals. When customers are stressed out, rude, unprofessional or angry, explain clearly to the customer that you don’t tolerate unprofessional behavior and politely end the conversation telling them that you will call them back later. Make a sincere attempt to continue the conversation later as promised. This will go a long way in improving your team's morale. Remember, happy employees make happy customers.
13. Show promise land
Check if the product is being used by the customer for its full potential. At times that might mean going out of your way to help the customer realize the benefits and new features of your solution.
14. Give expert recommendations
Educate your customer with opinionated recommendations on how to best deploy your product/solution. Share examples and best practices.
15. Retain experience
Update your knowledgebase with easy to follow guidance for common challenges your customers face. Interactive flowcharts are the most effortless way to guide a customer towards a customized recommendation. Go out of your way to retain your high performers.
16. Check stats
Leverage analytics dashboards to identify opportunities of improvements. Optimize processes using these analytical insights and observe how customer behavior changes.
17. Memorialize important decisions
Help your support team easily identify when a unique set of criteria is met and they need to fall back on the specific company policies. Instrumenting this criteria in interactive decision trees is an effective approach at driving streamlined decision making.
18. Show empathy
Don’t hide behind automated messaging. Customers know they received a templated response when they see one. They also know that the message was automatically generated even through it addresses them in a personalized manner. Instead, communicate your response specifically to their question or challenge using the terminology they used to explain their problem so they know you are making a real effort in resolving their specific problem.
19. Look out for changing requirements
This is how your support team becomes the sensor for new features your customers might need in the future. Nurture a habit of observing new customer behavior or when they are trying to use your product in new ways. Incorporate these insights in new feature development function to ensure that your product remains competitive in future.
20. Seek competing alternatives
Understand what your product is replacing for the customer. Before the customer bought your product, they dealt with the same problem using some other solution. That other solution often is your competition and dictates the competitiveness of your product. Understand how much better your product is compared to previous work around.
21. Make them wish
Ask what else they wish the product could do. Often customers are happy with what your product does but there are gaps between your product delivers and the practical needs of the customer. Find opportunities to fill those gaps to get a bigger share of their budget.
22. Reward favors
Reward the customers for helping improve your product. Its best when the customer gives their feedback without expecting anything in return. Surprise the customer by offering a reward for their favor.
23. Know your neighbors
Observe what other products does the customer use with your product. There may be opportunities to integrate or interface with those other products if it happens often enough.
24. Step in their shoes
The customer is often using your product to do their work. Understand what is at stake for the customer when your solution does not work. If your product fails they fail. You need to make them the hero of their organization. Educate the customer how to leverage your product features to be successful in their work.
25. Be patient
Don’t up/cross sell anything before the customer is satisfied with the current product.
26. Know important dates
Directly or indirectly try to sense the important events and dates when the customer will be heavily dependent on your product/solution to work. Reach out to the customer proactively before those events to help them make sure everything is like it is supposed to be. They will appreciate and thank you for that. Wishing customers for their birthdays and other personal favors are not really expected by the customers, but it might depend on your business.
27. Be an expert
Have each support team member become an expert in different aspects of your product. That way, when the customer has a difficult problem, you know who to go to and solve the problem in the first interaction. This can alternatively be addressed using interactive flowcharts and decision trees that are accessible anytime and anywhere. Each team member expert can take ownership and maintain their interactive decision trees as part of a modular guidance system.
28. Prioritize what hurts
Automate identification of customers contacting frequently with problems. Reach out to these customers to understand the root cause and perceived experience. Where appropriate, compensate the customer for inconvenience and make necessary proactive improvements for other customers.
29. Fortify your brand
In every conversation with the customer, emphasize your brand and your overall vision. Done effectively this will associate your brand with the product category in your customer’s minds. That customer is more likely to buy into your other products.
30. Help them Save
When you realize that the customer could spend less on your product and still get their problem solved, educate them. This is being professional and will help them build trust in your organization and brand.
"Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They DO expect you to fix things when they go wrong." - Donald Porter
Your customer support function often demonstrates the culture of your organization to your customers. In Improve Your Culture, we take a dive deep into cultivating your organization’s culture.
Your customer is intelligent, they have friends they talk to, they live on the same social networks as you and they can take their business away if you don’t go beyond their expectations. Continued great customer support is even more critical when it comes to repeat customers who are loyal to your business or recommend your business to others.
At DeciZone.com we enable confident decisions for your customer support teams by leveraging interactive decision trees. These decision trees can be maintained by different experts in your team to encourage ownership. You can keep these decision trees internal only for your team or you could even publish for your customers to access 24x7 globally online. Your customer gets a effortless streamlined experience - they just click a few response-buttons to make simple choices, and get to your customized recommendations. You can get a detailed transcript for each interaction for your records if you like or it can be saved in your favorite CRM, ERP, database or any other system of record.
Imagine automating customer support on all the known issues for your product using interactive decision trees, so your customers can get your customized recommendations within 30 seconds, 24x7 from any where and from any device browser. Your support team can be proactive and do a better job of actually delighting the customers. Try for free at DeciZone.com .
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