From Bad to Great Conversations With Customers
The words that we use can make or break a conversation. In fact timing, context and tone of voice play a crucial role in driving sentiment. When it comes to customer service, digital channels are useful but not enough themselves to have smooth, effective communications. How does that actually happen? How can we leverage conversations with customers to consolidate their trust?
Read on to find the answers to both questions. At the end of this article, I’ll ask for your comment.
Digital is Great (but it made us lazy)
Reaching somebody has never been so easy. We can text them, use WhatsApp, tweet them whenever we want… And yes, of course, we can still call them! :). This applies both to customers asking for support and to us in responding to our customers. Unfortunately, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. In fact, as a customer service consultant, I constantly see many written conversations that miserably fail due to:
- Poor attention in reading / listening (not focussing on what customers really wants from you)
- Unclear communication (e.g. long sentences, technical words, or just ‘brandalese’ language)
- Wrong or partial information (customer gets a reply for something that s/he didn’t even ask for, while the actual question remains unanswered)
All of these are toxic ingredients because they lead to poor conversations with customers.
Misunderstandings → extra customer effort → low support staff productivity → bad customer experiences.
Here’s an example below (you can find 14 more here).
How to Improve and Leverage Conversations with Customers
Back to the main questions of this article: it’s paramount to value each conversation with customers in order to retain their custom in their future.
As for the ‘HOW TO’, I’ll give you a sneak peak of the method I’m using with my clients because it can be useful also for you.
It’s a 4-step process:
1. Conversation assessment. Analyze a sample of conversations with customers on each support channel you’re using (e.g. phone, email, Twitter, Facebook). Definitely include your customer service staff in this exercise. It’s essential that you know which situations are the most stressful to them
2. Negative issues detection. Use a check-list to find the most frequent ones and focus on the reasons why they occur (e.g. misunderstandings, negative customer reactions, partial information that lead to an extra response to be provided) and focus to the reasons.
3. Train and empower your customer service staff. Now it’s time to engage them again by letting them work on the detected issue. Use practical exercises and role-play situations to identify new, winning techniques. It’s very important that you explain from the beginning of this phase that teamwork and active engagement are essential.
4. Test and measure. Apply the newly created conversation techniques step by step. I suggest starting with with a 30-day customer service pilot. Track and measure results against your current KPI, then decide whether to officially introduce these changes.
Over to you
Invest in each conversation with your customers. Keep your staff constantly involved, and most of all, well trained. That’s the path to happy customers – and employees as well!
Have great conversations.
P.S. As this is a very important business topic, I’d really love to read your comments below.
You may also want to read: The Story of a Schizophrenic Customer Experience
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