Improving Inbound Customer Service

Happy customers are one of the greatest assets a company can have, but sometimes customers aren’t happy and when they’re not happy, they call your inbound customer service. When the irate customer calls, it’s important that they have a good experience.

Otherwise, their next step will likely be to tell the whole world about how terrible your company is. Even if this customer’s experience is only one in ten, it takes ten times as many good experiences to get positive reviews from customers as it does bad experiences to receive a negative review. If it’s a new customer ordering a product, it is important that they feel that they got a great deal and that they wanted to buy the product. Either way, it is important for the customer to have a good experience with your customer service department.

Because of this, your inbound customer service should run like a well-oiled machine. After all, not too many people are happy with a machine that’s choppy or only works well some of the time. If it is a problem with a product, the customer is already coming to you angry, or at best disappointed in the product he receives, and angry or disappointed people tend to look for faults in every conversation. If it is a new customer, you are the likely the first experience the customer will have with your company.

So, how can you make sure that your service reps are providing your customers with a great experience?

Improving Inbound Customer Service 

Make Sure there are Clear Procedures

Your customer service representative needs to know what kind of experience they’re expected to give the customer. There are several elements to having a good procedure in place for inbound customer service calls. Some of the important ones are as follows:

  •  Picking up the Phone: What do you say when you answer the phone? Make sure there is a clear procedure that includes the question, “How may I help you?” Tone is also important when answering the phone. Your tone of voice should convey a positive attitude and eagerness to help.
  • Engaging the Customer: What do you say after the customer has voiced his complaint? How and when do you ask for other pertinent information, such as account name or number? Remember, part of engaging the customer is listening to what they tell you when you ask how you can help. Convey to them that you were listening and understand their request.
  • Clarification or Further Expounding of Request: If the initial complaint wasn’t enough to fully identify the problem, ask questions. Collect any more information that is required to appropriately understand the problem. Once again, tone is important here. Remember, if it is required to understand the needs, there is no such thing as a stupid question.
  • Offer Possible Solutions: Don’t just solve the problem, and don’t tell the customer what you’re “going to do” to solve it. Offer the customer solutions. Use phrases like, “Here are some options that you might be interested in…” or “I recommend that you…” It is important that any information you provide the customer is accurate in this step. If you don’t know an answer, find out, or be honest about it. A customer who feels lied to will likely view their experience in a negative light. Again, keep the tone positive. You need to convey an attitude of willing helpfulness and an eagerness to please.
  • Review the Call: Go over important parts of the call, such as what the problem was and any and all decisions made to solve it. Confirm that the customer is happy with the solution. Offer a case number or reference number if applicable.
  • Close and Affirmation: When closing the call, go beyond the typical “Thank you for calling my business.” Find a way to make the customer feel that he is valuable to you. Phrases like, “I know you will be satisfied with…” and “Feel free to call us if you experience any further difficulties…” will help to encourage the customer to remember her call in a positive light.

Further Tips for Great Inbound Customer Service

Some things that you should consider while you are in a conversation with a customer are as follows:

  •  Treat the Customer like a Special Guest: This person is important to your company’s well being. There’s no such thing as a company that stops needing happy customers. With that in mind, say “Please” whenever you ask for something from them and “Thank you” whenever they give you what you asked for.
  • Use Their Name: Customers feel a greater connection to your company if you are talking to them personally. When you are on the phone with a customer, use their name in a conversational manner. When using this skill, make sure that you pay close attention to the name so that you don’t mispronounce it. Also, don’t be friendly to the point of inappropriateness.
  • Don’t Argue with the Customer: Arguing with a customer will only make them angry. Be empathetic. Ask the customer why they feels the way they do. Let the customer figure out that they agree with you, don’t try to force them to agree with you.
  • Enunciate: Even when you’re not on the phone, practice talking and speaking every syllable of each word. This will help to ensure that the customer understands what you are saying. In the same manner, try to avoid euphemisms and figures of speech, as some people may not be familiar with them.
  •  Make an Effort to Understand the Customer: Don’t just listen, pay attention. If you’re not certain what the customer means, ask for clarification. It may help to repeat back to them, “So if I understand you correctly, you’re saying…” There are few things worse than solving the wrong problem for a customer because you misunderstood her.

Don’t be Content with “Good Enough”

You want your customers to love your company. Your success depends on it, so make your inbound customer service the best it can be! Happy customers will stick with your company even when people tell them there’s something better out there. Make every effort to keep your customers happy by providing them with great customer service. This will help you to maximize your potential and retain more customers in the long run. Now that you have some ideas on how to improve your inbound customer service, don’t settle for less than great.

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Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.
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