Taking Customer Service Beyond Hold Music

“This call may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes.” I bet you’ve heard that one before. Oh, and how about this one? “All of our representatives are busy assisting other callers. Please hold, and someone will be with you shortly.” Are you hearing hold music already? As you can tell, I’m following up on my previous blog about help desk solutions today. Let’s broaden the lens and look at customer service as a whole. Customer service is an integral part of building revenue and long term success. Learning why it matters and how to improve it is key to staying competitive.

Some Historical Context

This Forbes article provides valuable insight into the development of customer service over the years. In the 1990s, this article explains, companies provided customer service as an afterthought. The big focus was sales. If customers did try to request support, that request became a ticket. Tickets got stored in databases, and support was cryptically technical. Starting around 2000, the Internet changed things. Now, customers began to expect support online, anytime. Companies began to see that delivering on customers’ expectations could boost revenue.

More recently, customer service has become integral to company growth. The article author, tech executive Krishna Raja, uses the term “service-led growth.” She points out that companies now care more about product adoption than immediate monetization. Simply, this means that who’s using your product is more meaningful than who’s paying for it. When your users become loyal fans, they’re on track to become paying customers. So the experiences people have with service matter.

At present, we’re still battling through the COVID-19 pandemic. This HBR article is based on a 2020 study of how the pandemic has impacted customer service. The bottom line is that the pandemic has made providing great service much more difficult. Customers are more stressed, and many are experiencing financial hardships. These are tough issues for customer service agents to deal with. In addition, agents working remotely encounter their own challenges. Not being able to consult with colleagues and fighting poor phone connections is draining. If ever customer service has deserved our attention, it’s now.

Why Customer Service Matters So Much

This article from Entrepreneur emphasizes that customer service needs to reflect customer’s expectations and preferences. You might think that’s nice, but not crucial. Think again. Revenue is driven by loyal customers. And loyalty is largely determined by how seriously concerns are taken.

Here’s an example to illustrate this concept. Have you ever been served the wrong dish at a restaurant? Think of the response you got. If the staff apologized, corrected their mistake, and ensured you were satisfied, you’d probably be fine coming back again. If staff dismissed your concern or made you pay for it, it’s unlikely they’ll ever see you back. Already, you can see how customer service affects customer loyalty.

There’s more to why customer loyalty is profitable. This article fleshes it out. For instance, technology has made us all more connected, skyrocketing the impact of reviews. Whether you record your impressions on social media, on a website like Yelp, or just in a text to a friend, it ripples. A positive review will make others trust the brand. A negative comment might make people wary. In other words, a company needs its customers to communicate satisfaction with their experience to others.

As it turns out, the customer experience matters more to customer loyalty than anything else, including price! In other words, if I’ve had good experiences with your company, I’ll keep doing business with you. You can even raise prices, and I’ll still keep coming back. As you can see, customer service is a big opportunity to build loyalty, which leads to a strong future.

Making Your Customer Service Sing

If you’re worried that your company’s customer service could use a tune up, read on. I’ve collected some of the best tips I found to brush up the experience you’re providing. First, as this article suggests, plan. Know what language your company uses. Know how to establish trust in interactions with customers. Identify the outcomes you’d like to see and consider how you want customers to feel about them.

When you’re providing service in real time, keep the best practices identified here in mind. For example, keep all interactions respectful. Your tone is important. You should also try to resolve issues as quickly as possible. This HBR article recommends avoiding redirecting. That means it’s better for you to consult someone else than ask the customer to make one more call. Where possible, use advocacy language, like “Let’s resolve this issue together.” Show the customer that you’re sticking with them until the problem is fixed.

In the big picture, you need to analyze the service you’re providing and incorporate feedback constantly. This article suggests using artificial intelligence to analyze your data. However you do it, this article agrees that constant improvement is vital. Get feedback from customers, including loyal clients, and respond to their suggestions. Both positive and negative feedback hold value! Overall, remember that you’re building a community based on loyalty. It’s about more than the sales figures here.

A Leader’s Role

A lot of the burden may feel like it’s falling on leaders. Individual agents can do their best, but it’s up to the leaders to determine the strategy and keep everyone on track. This COVID-times article notes that remote management can be quite challenging. Fortunately, the suggestions I’ve made in this earlier post should be helpful.

Start by making sure your employees are able to work at their best. Check in on stress and promote wellness habits like taking breaks. Then, try to work with customer service agents one on one, as this article suggests. Though it may feel like a big investment of time, this will pay off. This HBR article suggests employing integrated coaching to make the most of your time with each employee. 

In the big picture, see if you can empower employees more. Empowered agents provide better customer service experiences. For example, create a central document that explains how agents can handle certain common situations. For instance, how much credit can they offer as an apology for a mistake? You’d rather agents quickly and confidently make that offer than say, “Can I put you on hold? I need to talk to my manager.” Empowering employees means being okay with mistakes. Remember, failures are also opportunities for growth. You’ll ultimately have a better payoff than if you were micromanaging all interactions. Plus, empowerment means you can scale with ease.

Finding the Time For It All

Speaking of scaling, it might feel overwhelming to take care of all this. Planning, executing, evaluating, and improving customer service requires a lot of attention. Fortunately, there are tools you can leverage to save time and work smarter. As this Forbes article suggests, artificial intelligence is key to taking your customer service to the next level.

That’s why you should check out the Pyrus Help Desk Solution. This software solution will save you time with features like canned responses, easy integrations, and easy data-driven analysis. As a recap, customer service is more important than ever before. You need to build a loyalty base to ensure your company’s growth and success. That means you need to implement both a strong overall strategy and best practices for agents. Let Pyrus do what it does best: move your work forward. Get the Pyrus Help Desk Solution today and watch your customer service soar.