Providing excellent customer support is one of the most important practices of a successful business, for both online and offline businesses. When things are going smoothly, customer support is a rewarding, feel-good job! However, dealing with challenging situations, even if they are infrequent, can feel stressful and demoralizing.
With the right approach, it is possible to positively influence 99% of these situations, decrease the stress level and actually create a win-win. You cannot afford to lose patience with a customer just because they ask questions, request a refund etc.
Here are a few tips that will improve communication in these critical moments, and help both parties feel happier.
Sometimes, solving the problem when you are under pressure can be quite difficult, especially when you know your customer is just one step away from abandoning you forever.
The best advice I got when I was in this kind of situation, is to act fast, even if I cannot provide a solution with the first reply. It is very important to show you care about your customer, and there is no better way than getting in touch with him/her quickly, and trying to stabilize the situation.
This way, you will show that you care. You will not only relieve the pressure on yourself, but at the same time, your customer will see that you are ready to help.
Explain the Issue
Although your answers should be concise and directly address the heart of the problem, there are situations where it’s recommended to provide some technical explanations of the problem, in order to demonstrate its complexity.
I will give you one example. Someone bought WP Rocket, installed it on their site, but it didn’t work. This customer immediately created a support ticket and asked for a refund. Our Refund Policy says that, if the plugin doesn’t meet your expectations, we provide a refund, but in some cases we might ask you for the opportunity to resolve the issue for you.
In this case, the problem was quite simple to determine. The customer’s server permission settings were not correctly configured so it was not possible to properly activate WP Rocket.
We explained this in detail to the user, explaining how things work, and what caused this particular issue. The customer took the steps we suggested and WP Rocket started working. The problem was successfully solved, and the customer went from wanting a refund, to being a satisfied Rocketeer.
Communication on Steroids
Often, words alone are not enough to explain a situation. At WP Rocket, we use screenshots frequently to supplement our explanations. This makes it easier to show the customer how to configure some options, find the right settings etc. This strategy works really well. A lot of people tend to prefer images, rather than reading a lot of text.
We receive very good feedback when we send a video screencast that shows the steps we took to solve the problem. Based on our experience, customers really appreciate this kind of help. Not all of them have technical knowledge, and some configuration options may seem non-intuitive to them, so a visual demonstration is much more valuable than a written explanation of the necessary steps.
No matter how angry customers are, it’s crucial to be polite.
Why? You have the knowledge, they have a problem. They asked you to solve it, because you are their (only) hope. Use your knowledge to give your customer the opportunity to learn from you in crisis situations like these. By sharing your knowledge in a way that is accessible, your customers will be happy and you can create a win-win situation.
Learn from Mistakes
Negative feedback you may receive from users of your product/service is not always a bad thing. It gives you the possibility to analyze and learn from it. Negative ratings give you additional details you can use to make things right.
Once you turn negative feedback into a solution, it’s a win-win for you and your customer. And you learn from it as well. Next time you will be able to anticipate possible negative scenarios, and take steps to avoid them in advance, resulting in a happy experience for the customer.
It’s not easy to make everyone happy. The good news is that you can usually influence the happiness of your customers. Act fast, use the best tools to help you communicate your knowledge, don’t forget to be polite and learn from mistakes. And you will see how things go well.
In fact, we have found that we have been able to transform some angry customers into our biggest advocates. A refund request is sometimes just an expression of frustration or misunderstanding. When you can show that you are listening to your customer and are genuinely interested in helping them, that customer often appreciates the effort and goes on to share their good experience.
Have you ever faced tough situations in providing support for your service/product? Feel free to share your experience.