This guest post was written by Elise Keith, co-founder of Lucid Meetings, a complete online system for running business meetings with your team and clients.
Recently our team was working to get new processes running for a customer when we hit a show-stopping error in the customer’s hosting environment.
I contacted the hosting provider’s customer support team and let them know about the error. The deadline was looming, and our team was dead in the water. An anxious two hours later, we got our response.
“I think it should work.”
Really? “It should?” Not “it will”? Immediately, my heart sank.
It’s customer support, not magic
A customer service agent’s job is to get customers unstuck as quickly as possible. You know they’re not having a good customer experience and you want to rescue the moment.
After all, studies show that if a customer has a bad experience with a business which the business then resolves successfully and quickly, that customer is often MORE loyal than those who never had a problem in the first place. This makes every support call your chance to improve customer experience, be that customer’s hero and be the business’ most effective way to secure that customer’s ongoing business.
However, many times the source of the problem isn’t clear, especially if you’re working in a complex system over the internet. Yet you might have a pretty good guess, so you say,
“I think it should work.”
But what if it doesn’t?
Think, Should, Believe: Three Words Customer Service Should Never Say
If you’re lucky, you actually fixed the problem. At the same time, it’s clear that you’re not entirely confident in the fix. Even worse, now your customers know it.
Use any of these phrases in your reply and your customers will know they have to test for themselves to see if the issue is really resolved:
- I think it will work.
- I believe the problem is resolved.
- It should work now.
Testing the fix means more effort on the customers’ part. And the amount of perceived effort a customer must make to use your services is a strong predictor of customer loyalty.
More importantly, if you guessed wrong and the problem still exists, your customers now believe at best, you’re incompetent or at worst, you’re deliberately misleading them.
The reality is that we can’t always know that our attempts to solve a problem will work. Here are some tips for working with your customer when you’re not certain you know the answer to a question.
1. Be honest
Start by encouraging your customer service team to adapt a line from your sales team’s playbook. To whit:
“I don’t know why this isn’t working, but I’m trying to find out.”
Sales people learn early on that if they give prospects false information, they’ll lose credibility, the sale, and soon their jobs. Therefore, they refer questions they can’t answer to someone else. Their honesty helps build trust and makes sure the prospect gets a good answer.
Customer support people have the same impact on a customer’s faith in the company. They should take the same approach to each question they can’t answer with certainty.
2. Enlist your customer’s help
Could there be something on the customer’s side creating the issue? Often a quick phone call or cobrowsing or screen sharing session will help you see the problem as they see it, and provide vital clues about what’s really happening.
According to a recent survey, of the customer service professionals who responded that they used cobrowsing and screen sharing solutions:
- 52% have seen a better understanding of the issues facing a customer
- 38% have seen better overall customer satisfaction
- 31% have seen increased first contact resolution
- 29% have improved average speed of answer
3. Set and meet expectations
Let your customer know when they should expect to hear from you again. Make sure to get back to them on or before that deadline, even if it’s just to report that you’re still working the problem.
4. Search for root cause
For any complex solution, identifying root cause can be really hard. Sometimes, though, it just takes slowing down enough to accurately reproduce the situation. Whatever you do, resist the urge to shortcut the process and assume you know where the problem lies. In the case of our hosting provider debacle, a few quick tests on their part would have saved hours of back-and-forth for everyone.
If the problem isn’t open to that kind of introspection, consider using a formal root cause analysis technique to get at that next level of detail.
5. Offer alternatives
You need to find a problem’s root cause so you can make sure it doesn’t happen again, but that’s not what your customer needs. The customer needs to get on with their business, so make sure you give them an alternate way to achieve their goals whenever possible.
Take-away: certain knowledge wins the day
Remember these customer service tips and you’ll come out ahead:
- Know, don’t guess. If you can, determine the actual root cause of the problem and verify the solution before replying to a support request.
- Be trustworthy. If all you know is that you don’t know, say so, and explain what you’re doing to get an answer.
- Offer a solution. Many times you can address customers’ needs without fixing the original problem. If there are other ways your customers can achieve their goals, offer those alternatives.
Finally, when you find root cause and verify the fix for the original problem, let your customers know. Make sure to thank them for the time they spent reporting an issue that you now can confidently address for all your other customers.
About Lucid Meetings
Lucid Meetings is a complete online system for running business meetings with your team and clients, with support for scheduling, professional meeting preparation, a collaborative in-meeting experience, and effortless follow-through on meeting results. For more information, please visit Lucid Meeting’s website at http://www.lucidmeetings.com/.
About Glance Networks
Glance helps enterprise organizations create the ultimate customer experience with smart, omni-channel visual engagement solutions based around integrated cobrowse, screen share, and one-way agent video. We are one of the world’s simplest, most reliable and secure platforms that enable companies to see, show and share anything online, creating a frictionless path to great experiences in sales, support and customer service. The result is improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased revenue growth and operational savings. From financial services and healthcare to retail and travel and leisure, even the most advanced technology and SaaS organizations – we transform the customer experience for today’s business. Learn More »