Customer expectations have evolved past closed tickets and short resolution times. To succeed in today’s ever-changing world, brands must take a customer-first approach to service and support. Here’s how to achieve it in four simple steps.
Understand the Emotions of Your Customers
Do you know what percentage of your customers are happy? Satisfied? Disappointed? Understanding the emotional state of your customers, and adding empathy to the conversation, makes the experience more meaningful, and agents can have conversations that truly help customers.
The top difference between a good agent and a great agent is their ability to express empathy. And empathy is enabled by sensing someone’s emotions. Sentiment scores within your customer service software should give your agents:
- Updates and reporting in real time
- The ability to segment customers by sentiment data
- Sentiment-based workflow automations
By pairing sentiment data with the right agent skills, it’s easier to master the skill of mirroring to make customers more comfortable. Mirroring, even if doing something as simple as using casual terms as you would with a friend, can go a long way in building a customer relationship. A customer service agent must know the appropriate tone to use to calm frustration, convey understanding of the issue, and express empathy.
Encourage Actual Conversations
Enabling true, personal conversations requires a mindset shift from transactional support to conversational support. Conversational support, service and experience are methods of helping customers that focus on building a long-term relationship, rather than resolving a series of issues. Agents are there to provide real value, not just to solve a problem or process a transaction. They use context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help while allowing agents to provide more personalized service at scale.
Embrace Omnichannel and Break Down Silos
Another feature of conversational support is channel flexibility. Think about how often your texts with friends or family turn into phone calls. In the same way, your teams need to provide omnichannel support for this type of asynchronous interaction.
Meeting customers when and where they want pays off. In fact, according to a Kustomer study, 88% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. The brands that deliver omnichannel support (and also are flexible enough to continue conversations across multiple channels without losing the context) will win additional brand loyalty.
Don’t think it’s just “newer” channels like social media that need your attention, though. “Your business results depend on your brand’s ability to retain and add customers,” says Olive Huang, Research Director at Gartner. “You must win at every interaction the customer has with your organization, whether that be a marketing campaign, a call to a contact center, an invoice, or a delivery reliant on the supply chain. Every department must play its part in a coordinated fashion.”
The days of isolated call centers are gone. CX leaders need to partner and collaborate with other departments to make improvements throughout the entire customer life cycle.
Reinvent Your CS Titles and Hiring Process
Names are powerful things, and for customer service teams, names set the tone for customer interactions. An “agent” is a transactional term, ideal for reactive problem-solving. Many modern CX organizations are reinventing the names, skill sets and training of their customer service teams because of the importance of the experience to customer value.
Calling your support agents something like “Happiness Agents” would not be wise if they consistently deliver low CSAT numbers and aren’t empowered to actually generate happiness. While names set expectations, you have to make sure that you are able to execute on those expectations. That’s where the principles of a customer-first approach can deliver true value.
There’s also increasing amounts of research on the characteristics to hire for to deliver exceptional support experiences. Gartner found that “many service organizations still hire the same type of rep they would have hired 5 or even 15 years ago.” CX leaders should instead consciously begin changing hiring and training processes to emphasize more successful characteristics in support professionals, built for 2020 customer expectations.
To learn more about how to deliver customer-first support, download the full guide here.Download Guide