5 tips to deliver excellent customer support
Let's face it; customer support is hard. It's often an undervalued cog in the sales process machinery.
For any company, it should be as crucial as creating, qualifying, or closing leads. You might have already won the customer, but not their loyalty, they can quickly leave if they encounter a deficient customer support experience.
We all have been the frustrated customer who can't achieve what she wants with the product or service that's supposed to be making life a little easier. We usually contact support with a little disappointment already.
It's the support team's responsibility to turn the situation around, always to have the customer leave happy.
At Missive, the only growth strategy that's been in place for the past five years has been to offer a high-quality product and excellent customer support.
We're proud to say we have many messages like these:
"You guys have the best support I have ever dealt with."
"I've never experienced such a consistently high level of support in my 25+ years in IT. You guys are wonderful to deal with."
"I have never seen customer support like you all provide..."
"...you guys offer such an amazing support level..."
We have compiled a list of the top 5 tips we go by to deliver excellent customer support.
1. Show empathy and be proactive
Listen, apologize; offer a solution. No matter how simple the problem is. Put yourself in the customer's shoes and try to imagine how you would like to be treated.
Always be patient. If you find yourself answering the same question many times a day, that could mean that something is not ok on the website/app. You can try to fix that and monitor if this diminishes support.
If there's no problem, you can create templates or responses (as we call them in Missive) of prewritten text that will answer the customer's concern rapidly.
Be careful with these; only send them if you're sure they will solve the query. Otherwise, people might feel underappreciated if they receive an automated response that's not helpful.
2. Maintain a clear, direct, and positive vocabulary
It takes a particular skill set to offer competent support.
- Your writing skills should be on point. Writing simple, concise responses is not easy. (Read this note from Paul Graham on writing briefly)
- You should have good intuition; sometimes, customers have a hard time explaining themselves.
- You should know the product/service from a to z. Or lean on tools that let you easily communicate among team members, like a shared inbox internal chat.
It's best to stay away from technical terms unless necessary.
Most importantly, don't try to correct the user or show them what they did wrong. Instead of saying, "you shouldn't have changed that..." you should be positive and say, "next time you might want to try..."
3. Be consistent, transparent, and honest
There's nothing more frustrating than waiting without an ETA. Uncertainty can make customers very impatient. You can create multiple points of contact, all with inherent response times. For example, we use Missive Chat on our website, it's only accessible during our business hours, and people there expect a quicker response than via email. If they have a complex issue, they will most likely email us, and they won't expect an answer within minutes.
Also, it's a good idea that in the early stages of the startup, you decide how fast you want to answer support queries. Because the second worse thing (after uncertainty), is to face inconsistency. Nobody likes getting a fast answer one day and a slow one the next.
Finally, be honest and don't try to overpromise fixes, new features, or other stuff that is not realistic. If you don't deliver, the customer will be disappointed.
4. Leave your ego at the door
If you're a small startup, chances are you've built part of the business yourself; it also means you'll be answering support requests as well.
People will send all kinds of messages from uplifting ones to downright mean ones. For the negative ones, always remember that you're the face of the company, and people are expressing their annoyance of the product/service, not of you personally. Remember point number 1, be empathetic.
5. Learn from it
Doing customer support for a startup is a humbling opportunity to interact with customers, to know what they want, and to improve the product.
It's not unusual nowadays that more and more companies begin the onboarding process of new employees with a few weeks or days handling support. It's the fastest way for a new team member to learn the ropes.
Bonus. Rely on technology
To properly scale support in a startup, you should look for a tool that fits your workflow from day one. It will spare you many headaches in the future.
Do your due diligence and determine whether a simple email, a help desk, or a shared inbox tool, like Missive, is best for you. If you need help choosing, read this article.
Remember that providing excellent customer support will inevitably augment brand loyalty. It's a fact.