If I asked you to think of a time you experienced terrible customer service, how long did that take?
You probably came up with an example within seconds, it might even have been today, maybe you’re getting annoyed even just thinking about it. We all know that feeling.
This very second you’re reading this article, we are more connected to one another across the planet than ever before. Businesses are increasingly moving online and we’re slowly losing the ‘local butcher’ type feeling where we can walk in and talk to a human for advice, with a query, problem with something we bought before or even just a chat.
Solid customer service is a way of rewarding and retaining customers and can be the difference between a terrible and excellent company.
Now let me ask you, when was the last time you received amazing customer service?
Little harder to think of, right?
Here’s our breakdown of how the biggest and best companies around the world train their staff to make sure the customer gets the best experience and stays loyal to them.
Before we break it down, let's take a few of the biggest industries for customer support agents and why it’s vital to their survival:
Yep, everyone’s favourite business. Banks used to be a nice warm little spot on the high street you could pop into and have a cup of tea and a chat about your fixed mortgage rate, ongoing loans, investment portfolio or kids college fund. They used to have a nice friendly face standing in branch to greet you by your first name and give you the dictionary definition of customer service. Your money is important, they hold all YOUR money, so any screw ups need to be fixed right away. Banking is a very competitive market and they ALL want your money sat in their coffers. Then came 9 August 2007, and the world's banking system’s gambling with high-risk mortgage debt brought economies around the world to their knees. Trust is not a word we associate with banks and now they are moving off the high street and taking their services online, customer support is essential to keeping the masses on board and away from the more innovative and open sourced solutions out there such as crypto.
Usually the second largest purchase most people make after their homes, most people take buying a car pretty seriously, especially when it’s from new. Car salespeople are notoriously crafty in closing the deal meaning the customer service offered after purchase has to be tip top, after all, the average time spent driving in a lifetime is 37,935 hours. Considering recommendations go a long way in the car industry, customer support is priceless.
Be it the “once a year on the Grand National” type gamblers or the lifelong students of statistics playing the match betting system, all the way up to the unimaginably rich, throwing millions on the spin of a wheel or the flip of a card, online betting is a huge industry. Valued at €41 billion in 2017, expected to have more than doubled by 2024 to a massive €84 billion. You can imagine, their marketing budget is huge and they know how to get their name out there. However they also know that even one small instance of bad experience will send customers and their lifetime deposits to another hungry competitor. Customer support in the online gaming industry is the beating heart of a multi-billion euro industry and they know how to recruit the best and train them to deliver for customers, often boasting some of the best ratings for customer experience.
So let's find out what they all have in common and the key points to being the best customer service agent you can be:
Know The Customer
Understanding the wants and needs of your customer is key to giving a personal feel to the experience. Simple and obvious things like using a customer's name or a previous conversation with them can go a long way in every industry as it makes people feel more connected to one another rather than fulfilling a role of buyer and seller.
Tip: Always keep a notepad handy or page on your computer so you can write down the name of the person you’re dealing with. The best sound in any language is the sound of your own name, use the power of this fact to build rapport quickly.
Built To Last
Retention is vital to businesses particularly in competitive market places. Everyone from mobile phone providers to utility companies know to invest in training employees to turn a customer that’s determined to leave into a satisfied customer. This begins in customer service and this is key to keeping long term and loyal customers.
In order to survive and thrive in the long term, the customer experience must make them happy and keep them loyal, which surveys suggest usually stems from one fantastic interaction with a salesperson or customer support agent.
Tip: Treat every customer as if you’re going to speak to them every week for the rest of your time in the job. This reminds you to take care of the issues fully for them and not just get them off the phone or file them away as resolved. Get it right first time to save lots of headache in the future.
Speed is one of the biggest factors in query resolution. Average response time across customer service in all industries is around 12 hours but in the age of the shortening attention span, we expect much faster. In many industries, immediate resolution is what the customer wants and anything less is going to result in them being unhappy, out of pocket or going elsewhere. Live chat is now dominating and allows customers to multitask rather than sit on hold pressing options, but this means promptness of a reply is key.
Tip: If you’re dealing with a customer, deal with them. Don’t try and do 5 other things otherwise it’s easy to get distracted and miss details. Give them your focus, be timely and they’re happy.
Go The Extra Mile
We’ve all heard the mantra of “Going The Extra Mile” for a customer. Basically we take it to mean doing more than a customer would normally expect or more than someone else doing the same job would do instead of simply providing a solution to a problem.
This might be in the form of free bonuses for a casino, promotional items from a car manufacturer or even just a personalised email following up after you’ve dealt with them but these small details are the things that make the experience stick out in the customer’s memory.
Tip: No matter what industry you work in, there’s always a little something you can offer to sweeten the deal or to apologise for inconvenience. Ask your manager how much room you have to play with this and you can keep it up your sleeve for when you have a really tricky customer. Most people will soften up when they’re given something free.
“Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” Jocko Willink
This quote is important in many areas of life, but is especially good advice in business. Jocko is one of the baddest mofos to walk this earth. If he gives advice on doing things right, you listen.
We are all human and anyone can make a mistake. But not everyone can take ownership when things go wrong and see it through to resolution. This is a major factor in retaining customers, even after a mistake has been made. Admitting to a mistake and explaining how you’re going to fix it is a very brave thing to do and most people will respect you for owning up to it.
Tip: Use this as a way to disarm potentially angry customers. If you made a mistake, own up. Sure they might direct a bit of anger at you for a moment, but if you then lay out exactly how you plan to fix it and execute your plan, they will find it tough to fault you.