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Proactive communication is an important part of customer service. It helps to facilitate the customer journey and inspires customers to stay loyal to the company.

CEB Global study found that for every ten customers who have a high-effort service experience, nine will become disloyal and eight will say something negative about your brand to others.

What other benefits does proactive communication bring to a business?

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© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post Proactive communication with customers: what benefits can it give to your business? appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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At some moments customer service job can be a challenge. Dealing with different people and trying to meet their expectations is not an easy task. It takes patience, sharp intellect and I would even say wisdom to navigate through the various customer moods and still provide a professional service.

In this article I would like to review the biggest customer service challenges based on my own experience. I would like to share with you what I found worked best for me to overcome them and I hope my experience will be of use to you as well.

So let’s begin.

  1. Having to serve multiple customers at the same time

If you are working in customer service, you need to be prepared to deal with several customers at a time on daily basis.

My best tip for overcoming this challenge is learning to take a pause correctly.

If you clearly specify to the customer there is going to be a break, that you need time to find a response to his question or find a solution to his problem, it is no big deal. Customers are ok being put on hold if you tell them you need a few moments to research their issue. This is the time that you can use to respond to another customer. However, avoid telling the first customer you are communicating with someone else and need time for this. It would be a bad idea! And don’t just leave the first customer on hold without explaining – that’s another bad idea!

  1. Being time-pressed to give a response when you don’t have one

There are situations when a customer is rushing you to give them a response, but you don’t actually know what to say, because either you don’t understand how to solve their problem or you don’t have enough information.

In such situations, I recommend to hold your ground and insist on taking your time to investigate the issue. Not buying into the rush will help you to give a better quality customer service. You can say, for example, “I will need some time to research the issue and do some testing. Would it be ok if I emailed you with the results later today?” Or you could say, “I will need to check this up with our administrator/manager. Could you please leave me your email and I will get back to you shortly.”

  1. Facing an irate customer

Dealing with angry customers is part of the deal you are entering a customer service job. There is no escaping it.

There is a long list of advice spoken on this subject. And the reason is that it’s really not easy. If I am to take a single line to give my own advice, it is “Remain calm yourself”. What helps me personally when I see someone who is just venting out their emotions, I try to think of that person as a teenager and treat him accordingly. We’ve all been there and we know, there is no arguing or reasoning with a teenager. It’s just how they feel and you can’t help it. You can only save it from going worse if you

  1. Having no solution to the customer’s problem

If you are at a loss and have no idea how to solve a certain issue, it’s better to take the time and research it a little bit or maybe consult with your team-mates or senior staff. It’s kind of a shameful situation, but hey, let’s face it, it happens. You are not omnipotent.

However, don’t be so bold about it with your customer and don’t admit it in these exact words, “I don’t know how to solve this problem, sorry”, because you will label yourself incompetent. Instead, you can say, “Sorry, it will take me some time to investigate the issue and check a few details with our admin/manager. Can I get back to you by email?”

  1. Not being able to give a bigger discount

It’s a tough one to say “No” to a request of a discount. Especially, if it is a loyal and trusted customer who’s been with the company for many years. But what can you do about it. If you can’t, you can’t. Sometimes life says “No” to you too in other situations.

What I think works in such situations is admitting the situation honestly as it is, “I’m very sorry, but the company can’t go lower than this price.” And you can also add some explanations of they are true, for example, “Our service/product cost is quite low as it is and lowering it further would just make it not worth for us running the business. I hope you understand.” This is quite honest and most people with reason will understand it right.

  1. Admitting the lack of a feature or a product

This is similar to saying “No” to a discount request. No one likes to hear a “No”.  Still, you got to say it bold as it is, otherwise you may mislead the customer and he will feel cheated if you promise him something you can’t deliver. “Sorry, we don’t have this feature at this time. We didn’t receive enough requests from customers, so we don’t plan to add it in the nearest future. This may change later on, however.” Or, if the feature is in the works, you can say, “My apologies, we don’t have this feature yet. However, it is under development and we hope to see a new release soon. Would you like to be notified by email when it is ready?”

  1. Dealing with a service outage or a crisis situation

Having a big volume of inquiries with many customers frustrated that something is not working can be tough.

The approach that I have developed over the years and which I found works best is to be dead honest about what’s going on, admit the problem even if you don’t know how and when it is going to be resolved. But the truth is, you are working on it and that’s exactly what matters.

“Please accept our apologies. We are having a problem at our end. Our technicians are working now to fix it as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

There you go! You are prepared for the toughest customer service situations now.

Have your take and share your tips in the comments if you already had experience dealing with difficult customer service situations.

© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post 7 Customer Service Challenges and How to Overcome Them appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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If you are aiming for excellence, you can never stop learning and polishing your skills. What skills are needed for a great customer service?

There is a long-running debate over which set of skills is more important for a customer service rep, soft skills or technical skills.

A recent survey by Service Strategies concludes that 96% of respondents judged communication skills and interpersonal skills more important than technical skills for the success in customer support.  After all, to resolve any technical problem a CSR needs strong communication skills to effectively gather information, analyze it and find a solution which will help the customer.

A set of soft skills every CSR needs to learn:
  1. Attentiveness

A customer service rep needs to listen to the customer carefully, pay attention to every detail in order to understand the problem or the question correctly. Getting it right the first time saves a lot of time in the course of your communication. It also helps to avoid frustration on the part of the customer if he has to explain his issue over and over.

  1. Clarity of language

It is important to explain the information to the customer clearly so that he can understand it. When it’s not a face-to-face interaction, it is quite easy to misunderstand each other. So the language of communication needs to be simple, precise and clear.

  1. Confidence

No doubt, confidence is something we need in our everyday life, not only in customer service. However, in areas concerned with communication and advice, a confident conversation is of utmost importance, otherwise, the other party will just not hear you.

  1. Patience

A customer service rep is bound to deal with different kinds of people. Some of them could be angry or frustrated and thus difficult to manage. Being patient is the key to steering your communication with the client in the right direction.

  1. Empathy

Customer service field is in a way like a hospital. People come there with a problem and they want you to be understanding of it, to empathize with them. They don’t want to hear reprimands that they cannot do something. They want to be heard, understood and helped or given advice.  So a customer service rep always needs to be ready to step into the customer’s shoes and show empathy.

  1. Team-work skills

There is safety in numbers, so if your company is aimed at providing high-class customer service, training all the employees for well-coordinated team-work is the key to success. A CSR needs to know well the whole structure of the company, who is responsible for what and be able to escalate customer service issues to the right person or department in no time.

  1. Creativity

Being creative helps a lot in our work-places. If you can think out of the box, finding solutions to difficult customer issues will be a challenging, but an interesting task. A creative rep is never bored at work and rest assured, satisfied with his employment. And his customers, in their turn, are satisfied with the company’s service.

  1. Friendliness

We all enjoy being treated nicely and the customer service field is no exception. It helps a lot if a CSR has a friendly personality and can communicate with customers in a professional, but friendly manner. This will build relationships with your customers that will last for years.

With all the above said, we cannot underrate the value of having solid technical skills. A good rep needs to have strong tech skills to be able to perform well in his work.

A balanced approach to training both types of skills is what gives best results in customer support.

© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post Soft Skills to Master for an Ever-Learning Customer Service Rep appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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Did you know that 51 percent of U.S. employees are looking for a new job? Why?

Aren’t they satisfied with their salary? Don’t they like their old laptops? Can’t they bear long traveling to and from office? Or maybe their chief isn’t empathetic enough?

It’s quite a difficult task to find the one who cares only about material values when deciding on a job. The ProvideSupport blog writers have prepared fascinating statistics on this issue. Take the trouble to have a look at it and find out how much chiefs lose per year just because of not being empathetic (reading will take you 3 minutes).

Each time when a young or already experienced specialist decides to apply for a job, they expect to be engaged at work, to love what they do, to have friendly and permanently smiling colleagues (such innocent fools!) and what else? An empathetic boss. Statistics show the great correlation between a chief’s empathy and employee’s productivity, that means between a chief’s empathy and company’s income.

Do you still doubt empathy plays an important role in business? Take a look at what we’ve prepared!

(...)

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© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post Why empathy is a key to employee engagement appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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Did you know that 51 percent of U.S. employees are looking for a new job? Why?

Aren’t they satisfied with their salary? Don’t they like their old laptops? Can’t they bear long traveling to and from office? Or maybe their chief isn’t empathetic enough?

It’s quite a difficult task to find the one who cares only about material values when deciding on a job. The ProvideSupport blog writers have prepared fascinating statistics on this issue. Take the trouble to have a look at it and find out how much chiefs lose per year just because of not being empathetic (reading will take you 3 minutes).

Each time when a young or already experienced specialist decides to apply for a job, they expect to be engaged at work, to love what they do, to have friendly and permanently smiling colleagues (such innocent fools!) and what else? An empathetic boss. Statistics show the great correlation between a chief’s empathy and employee’s productivity, that means between a chief’s empathy and company’s income.

Do you still doubt empathy plays an important role in business? Take a look at what we’ve prepared!

(...)

Read more

© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post Why empathy is a key to employee engagement appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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What’s the most important thing a business needs to do to improve relationships with their customers and keep them coming back for more? The answer is pretty obvious, and yet so often overlooked: providing a delightful customer service.

No matter how good your product may be, or how competent your customer service team is, the only thing that matters is how your customers feel about your company.

And the key to providing an exceptional customer service lies directly in the ability of your team to deliver a positive experience. If you are a customer service manager, you are probably aware that it’s your team that is the face of your company, and your customers’ experiences will be driven by the skill and quality of the support they receive.

As a customer service manager, it’s your ability to drive both customer satisfaction, and employee engagement, that defines your own success. Happy agents are more likely to go above and beyond while servicing your customers. And customers who feel they are cared for, are the ones that will return.

The bottom-line is that you can’t have delighted customers with disengaged, or even disgruntled employees. That’s where you need to start.

So, what can you do to ensure your team is performing at its best? Well, here are three questions you should be asking at least one of your team members everyday:

1. What are your customers telling you?

This question happens to be a very potent diagnostic tool. You cannot succeed in creating happy customers if you do not start by removing all the potentially unhappy and disgruntled customers first.

You need to have your team understand that it’s okay to let your customers vent their anguish and open up to them. They shouldn’t be looking to defend a poor customer service, or a poor product experience. Allowing your customers to vent will lead you to discovering new perspectives on their overall experience with the company, and why they be feeling so frustrated.

Once this mindset has been inculcated in the team, they will start paying a closer attention to the specific language customers use to describe their problems, or frustration. Recording, or capturing their words verbatim, will help you identify the root cause of the issue and will be a great help when the team looks for a solution.

Ideally, it’s your customer who should be talking 90% of the time. Your team, on the other hand, should be busy making a note of their complaints, frustrations and concerns. This will help you:

  • Identify the exact problems your customers face
  • Get to know the most common struggles from your customer’s perspective
  • Know the exact language your customers use
  • Understand your customers better

This information is crucial to providing better support and have much more engaged and delighted customers. In the words of Alan Weiss, the author of “Million Dollar Consulting”:

“Ask your customers to be part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”

2. How can I help you?

Despite acknowledging the importance of good customer service, many businesses still subscribe to the opinion that service incurs business cost. However, what’s important here is to realize that good customer service is more like an investment that can help drive business growth. Hiring quality talent, and ensuring they have the right skills, training and tools enables them to empathize with customers and actively listen to them. This is the key to providing a consistently good service experiences.

Without proper tools and resources, your team may not feel empowered enough to effectively resolve customer queries or respond appropriately to their frustrations. As much as you want your teammates to empathize with your customers’ problems, you need to first look at serving your own team members and empathize with them.

Therefore, it’s a good practice to turn the tables on your teammates and ask them, whether in a group discussion or a while having a one-on-one conversation: “How can I help you?”

What’s also important, is to listen to their suggestions and then act on them. Have an in-depth discussion on every view of theirs, no matter how small you insignificant you feel they may be. If they want you to know about it, then it is a big deal to them. And if it’s a big deal to them, it ought to be a big deal to you!

Identify any training needs that your support members may have. There are well designed customer service training programs available out there that focus on improving communication, listening, problem solving and analytical skills. Training all your agents on a predetermined set of competencies equips them with the right mindset and a standard process to deal with customers and builds a sense of team spirit.

3. Do you get credit for the results you generate?

Creating high performers consistently is a crucial activity for every customer service manager.

Every employee strives for professional growth and often this implies more than just money. The desire for challenging situations, bringing in substantial growth and going beyond personal capacities is what drives many employees to want to become high performers.

So, as the manager for customer service, how can you nurture those seeds of ambition to help your team members grow and become high performers or potential leaders themselves?

By giving them appropriate credits when they are due.

As a manager, you can motivate fellow team members by holding them to higher standards, asking for more and lending them the support they need to get there. And as they start to meet these expectations with more efficiency and a renewed sense of purpose, ask them if they have the data, the tools, and support to carry out everything that’s expected out of them. And more importantly, ask them: “Do you get credit for the results you generate”?

Conclusion

Asking these three questions frequently will help you generate a stream of ideas to continually improve your team’s and your customer’s experience. Act on the feedback and suggestions you receive to improve customer engagement and empower your employees to deliver exceptional service that will delight your customers. And finally, ask them if they are happy with what they get out of it.

Author Bio: Jared Cornell is a customer-support ninja and a marketing evangelist working with ProProfs for more than 5 years. After wearing many hats as a sales specialist, a content marketer and a brief stint as project manager; Jared found customer support to be the passion-fueled calling.

© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

The post Three Questions Every Customer Service Manager Should Be Asking Everyday appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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A decade ago, our familiarity of AI was only restricted to the silver screen. But today, the scenario has changed completely. Although AI is yet to take over our lives in a formidable way, as projected in 2004 blockbuster movie- I, Robot, the technology is certainly pervasive. It has transformed forever the way we interact with our immediate surroundings. The most notable forms of AI an average user is familiar with are – SIRI, Google Now and Alexa skills. Although these are examples of narrow or non-thinking AI, the application acts as personal assistant to make our lives organized and better.

But what if AI could think, analyze, recommend and predict? What difference would that make to our lives? Well, chances are that it may be already making a difference. For instance, recently if you have contacted your insurance company or your broadband provider, there is a good possibility that you may have interacted with a Chatbot, instead of a human agent. AI is taking over customer service department in a big way. (...)

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The post 4 Ways AI Will Transform Customer Experience appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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4 Dimensions of Customer Trust

Put simply, high trust is a dividend; low trust is a tax. In fact, in our increasingly low-trust world, trust has literally become the new currency of our global economy. — Stephen M.R.Covey

Digital innovation has transformed today’s business world: it has changed business environment and performance, as well as the whole landscape of customer choice. Today’s customers are more demanding, knowledgeable and selective, and the ways how they connect with brands nowadays largely define the key dimensions that shape up business relationships of the new digital era.(...)

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The post 4 Dimensions of Customer Trust: How To Get The Most of It appeared first on Live Chat, Customer Service BlogProvide Support.

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Despite the rise of social media, live chat services and chatbots, email is still one of the most commonly used communication channels for businesses and individuals all over the world. In 2017 alone, over 269 billion emails were sent every single day.

When it comes to your business, the chances are that you communicate with your customers using this traditional method. In fact, as many as 46% of customers will choose email has their preferred method of communication.

So, as a business, what emphasis do you place on making sure that these emails are of the highest quality? Thanks to the level of connectivity that we all share, thanks to the internet, your customers now expect the very best service possible. They want to feel special. They want to feel valued. They want to feel like you care about them as individuals.(...)

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Everyone working in customer service knows that words are incredibly powerful, and some of them can truly either make or break customer service experiences. In fact, according to Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, the authors of Words Can Change Your Brain, a single negative word can trigger the release of dozens of stress-producing hormones. Using the right customer service phrases in your communication with customers makes all the difference between a bad service and a delightful one.

Empathy is the Key to Excellent Service

Empathy is the ability to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. Believe it or not, customers are not expecting customer service professionals to resolve their issues 100% of the time. On the other hand, they do expect empathy from service agents every single time they contact your company’s support. Empathy statements can do so much in making customers feel that they are understood, respected, and their feelings are validated.(...)

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© 2003 - 2017 Provide Support LLC
Published in Provide Support Blog, 2018. | | No comment

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