The Intangible side of CX leaders

Crafting memorable customer conversations

We’ve talked about customer satisfaction throughout Support OS but the essence of great satisfaction or experience is communication. Building conversation with customers is a way to build a rapport that goes beyond the product or service you’re offering. People seek empathy and often in the world of business, trivial virtues like being understanding or talking nicely can go overlooked. However, in customer support, this is not only essential but also the foundation for building long-term relations aka customer success.

Let’s look at a few things to keep in mind while talking to customers -

Personalize your approach

Nothing makes a person feel more valuable than being spoken to directly. Simple gestures like using their name and acknowledging something specific to the person can improve their outlook on the conversation, not to mention, make a great first impression. Simple anecdotes like acknowledging the person’s job, location, interests, etc., can make a big difference.

Example - Start by greeting by using their name. If possible, acknowledge their location or their work. Then proceed to address the problem as politely as you can.
“Hey, {customer_name}, how’s the weather like in California this afternoon? I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble <address the problem>. Well, I’m here to assist you the best I can!”

The power of listening

Listening lies at the heart of customer engagement. When you’re actively listening, it points the spotlight on the speaker (customer), giving the importance they deserve. It's not just about the silence while the other person speaks; it's about fully engaging with their narrative.
Give Them Your Full Attention
This means putting aside all distractions. If you're on a call, don't type or shuffle papers. If you're in person, maintain eye contact. Show the customer that at this moment, nothing is more important than their concerns.
Reflect and Clarify
After the customer has explained their issue, reflect on what you've heard to confirm understanding. Say, "If I'm hearing you correctly, the main issue is..." This not only shows you're listening but also ensures you're on the same page.
Respond Appropriately
Active listening is interactive. Nod in agreement, say "I see" or "Go on" at appropriate moments. This encourages the customer and shows you're engaged.
Don't Rush to Solve
It's tempting to jump in with a solution the moment you think you've identified the problem. Resist this urge. Let the customer finish their story. Sometimes they're looking for understanding as much as they are for a fix.
Ask Probing Questions
When it's your turn to speak, ask questions that prompt further explanation or reflection, such as, "What happened when you tried to use the feature?" This not only gathers more information but also reinforces to the customer that you're invested in their issue.
Summarize and Verify
Before moving to problem-solving, summarize the main points and ask the customer to verify. "So, the main issues are A, B, and C. Did I get that right?" This final check can catch any misunderstandings before they lead you down the wrong path.

Use positive and inclusive language

When it comes to solving problems, it should always be an “us” or “we” instead of “you”. The customer should feel like you’re walking hand-in-hand with them instead of simply telling them which direction to walk in. Refrain from using terms like “you need to” or “you probably should” which lacks empathy.

Also, refrain from using negative language such as “No, we don’t provide that” or “That’s not possible”. Instead, user phrases or terms like “Looks like we don’t currently support that. But you know what, these recommendations can help improve the product. Thanks for reaching out!”

It’s always reassuring for the customers when you acknowledge what they’re saying as something important.
Bad Example:

: "I can't access my account even after resetting my password."
Agent: "You should try resetting it again. If that doesn't work, call us back."
Good Example:

: "I can't access my account even after resetting my password."
Agent: "That must be frustrating. Let's troubleshoot this together. Can you walk me through the steps you've taken so far?"

Talk how they talk

Your customer’s tone and the way they talk is most probably also how they expect to be spoken to. If a customer is being more informal, friendly, interrogative (asking multiple questions and digging deeper), and all-around curious - you should take that as a lead to respond in a similar tone.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be friendly with a customer who’s angry or formal, but you should stick to the point and try to get to the solution as soon as possible for them. Be respectful and assertive. Be careful with jokes, not everyone would appreciate them, especially customers who haven’t led on to be in the mood for anything other than their concerns being addressed.

Mirror your customer’s approach to the problem but not completely. To a customer, it should seem like they’re being understood and listened to.

A few “Don’ts” to keep in mind

Don’t use jargon
Customers may not understand industry-specific terms. Instead of saying, "The issue seems to be with the backend," simplify it: "The part of our system that powers that feature is having a hiccup. Let's sort it out."
Don't Make Assumptions
Never assume you know what the customer wants. Asking, "You want a refund, right?" can end the conversation prematurely. Instead, ask, "How would you like us to make this right for you?"
Don't Interrupt
Cutting off a customer can make them feel unheard. Even if you know the solution midway through their explanation, wait until they finish before offering help.
Don't Be Robotic
Scripted responses can make the interaction feel cold. Instead of reciting a policy, personalize your response: "Our policy is X, but let's see what we can do for your specific situation."
Don't Neglect the Follow-Up
Ending the conversation with the solution isn't enough. Check back in with, "I'm just following up to see how everything works for you now. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

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