Humans are social beings. Even before we could form words, we lived in groups and learned to communicate. So, it only makes sense that over the years, the concept of communication became increasingly sophisticated. Fast-forward to today—and it still remains central in our lives.
We know that communication is not just about speaking and listening. It’s more meaningful. We’re talking about expressing and understanding. Why would this rule not hold in the field of customer service?
Well, it does. For a customer support representative, their role extends beyond listening to and offering solutions to the caller. It’s not just about what one says, but also about how they say it.
Therefore, this new era of CX demands greater dedication than ever to the craft of effective client communication. The customer has to be the first priority in all your business endeavors.
Do you happen to know who said these blunt (yet true) words:
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
10 points to you if you answered Sam Walton, the founder of the global giant Walmart.
By Janice Waltzer from Owasso, USA – Sam (scan of a photograph taken by the Flickr user’s father), CC BY 2.0
Consider this: A Bain and Co. Research in the Harvard Business Review stated that increasing customer retention by even 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. And how do you retain clients? By delivering excellent experiences to them every single time.
Now that we’ve understood the importance of customer service, it’s important to plan support strategies to ensure a seamless CX every time. Right from the start, you should be clear about the objectives of your communication efforts.
These four goals should be kept in mind while designing a service strategy:
Faster query resolution
Your first aim should be to streamline and speed up the call flow processes for swift problem-solving.
Any pain points have to be preemptively predicted and fixed to ensure uninterrupted communications.
Acquiring new customers is significantly costlier than retaining existing ones. In fact, the latter also increase profits through word-of-mouth marketing.
Higher conversion rates
An important part of CX is converting potential leads into loyal customers. You need to retain prospects and build meaningful relationships with them.
If you can commit to achieving these four goals, half your work is done already. You know what to do. But equally, if not more important, is to figure out how to do so.
Here are 5 tips and tricks of the trade that will definitely take your customer communication to the next level.
1. Be equipped with the right tools
Tools and technology are like armor for your business. Don’t lose out on business because of something as basic as the use of outdated technology.
Instead of struggling with the constraints of wired telephony, shift to Internet-based solutions. A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system that connects to the cloud, and therefore, offers more flexibility and services, is a better option. It acts as a one-stop solution for all your communication needs—from virtual numbers to voice broadcast campaigns, virtual receptionist and routing with IVR, conferencing solutions, and much more.
Establish a local or global presence with a virtual number of any area code, regardless of your actual location. Further, with a VoIP phone, inbound customer calls can be greeted by the IVR and intelligently routed to the best-suited agent. You can also host conference meetings with clients and within teams remotely to ensure business continuity, even in extenuating circumstances.
You can (and should) even go beyond VoIP calling. Integrate your voice, video, and message solutions into one unified platform with UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service). If your agents can easily switch between different channels, they can be available to customers on various communication media. Give your clients the convenience of choosing their own mode of communication.
Furthermore, features like call tracking and recording, and detailed reports on real-time dashboard help managers assess agent and project progress. Not only can these files be referred to later for accuracy in customer interactions, but you can use valuable insights to constantly improve your level of service.
There’s no room for mediocrity in this field, which is why it’s important to empower your agents and arm yourself with the best-in-class solutions.
2. Integrate with a powerful CRM
A customer relationship management (CRM) software will make your life so much easier. Think of it as the Alfred to your Batman. You can live without it, sure. But it elevates you to perform better, easily, and efficiently.
And how exactly does it do that?
Integrating your phone system to a CRM ensures complete synchronization between the two. So any leads you to pursue are automatically updated on the system, with customer and call detail records.
At the same time, your interactions are enhanced when you have customer data right in front of you. With a better understanding of the caller’s specific ailments, you can give a targeted response for higher satisfaction.
With a CRM integration, all your operations are navigable from a single dashboard. No need to waste time on switching screens or handling multiple credentials anymore. Easy access and a user-friendly interface ensure that you don’t spend too much time training your staff to use it either.
3. Be proactive, not reactive
Running a business is more like a game show than you would’ve thought. Fastest fingers first is a legit thing. By this, we don’t mean hurry or rush through tasks.
Rather, take the first step. Be the first to reach out. Instead of waiting around for customers to realise their concerns and contact you, preemptively determine possible pain points. For example, if your website is about to go into maintenance, inform your clientele of the same with an SMS broadcast so that they don’t struggle with an unresponsive page.
An unforeseen circumstance is disrupting the economy? (cough coronavirus cough)
Reassure your customers that you empathize with them. Let them know your plan of action to endure the conflicts and emerge stronger.
Apart from reaching out, make sure that when they reach out to you, you’re fully present. Mentally and emotionally. Don’t just hear, but actually listen and communicate.
Active listening is the key to delivering excellent customer service. Only when you take proper cognizance of a consumer’s concerns can you offer reliable solutions. More than an agent, you need to approach customer interactions with the intent of a helpful friend.
James Cash Penny, the founder of the chain J. C. Penny, once said, “Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.”
In other words, a happy customer equals a happy business.
4. In-depth product knowledge
Even though your attitude, tone, and overall experience matter a lot in customer communications, the crux of the matter is—can you actually help the caller with their needs?
Every agent in your workforce needs to be trained as a walking and talking encyclopedia about your product. If a caller has to wait for an answer while the agent fumbles for his supervisor, it leaves them in a bad taste.
Not only does valuable time gets wasted if the agent isn’t equipped with proper knowledge, but the customer begins to lose trust in their credibility and may consider switching brands.
Don’t risk years of hard work for a moment of incompetence. Make sure your staff is always up-to-date with the latest trends, product details, and market insights.
5. Honesty and creativity take the front seat
Communication is a two-way street. On one hand, we discussed the importance of active listening. But on the other, there’s also a need for honesty in expressing your brand’s mission.
Are there any pressing challenges you’re facing? Don’t hide them. It’s best to let customers know what they’re getting into. Not just the issues, but how you plan to resolve them as well.
While you need to be transparent with your audience, you also need to make sure you’re on the same page. What you’re trying to express––is it being received properly by the customer?
If you ramble on with technical and industry jargon, you won’t gain any brownie points. You’ll just lose their interest. Instead, be creative. Break down technical terms. Explain things in a more relatable way.
Perhaps use analogies. Or anecdotes. Or examples of famous brands. If you slip in the name of a trendy mogul like “Instagram” into your conversation, you can catch the interest of a dozing client as well.
Here we discussed five essential tips to improve customer communications. But keep this in mind: consistency is what can make or break your system. If you have one good day and one bad day, people will remember the bad day vividly and for longer.
Make sure you are consistent in providing a certain level of service. Remember, customer service begins after you’ve solved the problem. Doing the bare minimum is not counted in the concept of ‘service’. It is what you do after resolving the issue that contributes to your quality.
Did you follow up on a customer complaint? Did you offer your apologies and a free service for the inconvenience? These things are ultimately the game changers and set you apart from your competition.
Make sure you follow the aforementioned points and go above and beyond to enhance communication. You’ll notice the results right away!
Olivia Trott is a technical writer at Acefone, a prominent hosted phone system provider. Olivia is an outgoing person who enjoys writing, is an SEO enthusiast, and often interacts with others in intellectual conversations. She enjoys listening to music in her free time.