Published on: July 13, 2016 by Sanjeev Jacob
In the previous post we had been discussing about the necessary features for communication for customer support. In this article I am focusing more on the attributes necessary for client communications other than technical and linguistic correctness. The terminologies or examples used here are much more related with web hosting customer support as I am part of web hosting support industry and is more confident and comfortable with the terms.
The language of customer support should speak to hearts. Each person is different, so are their emotional levels. The way you present an issue, method of communication, technical competency etc. leaves a positive impression which in turn creates brownie points in the form of favorable, positive references in future.
No doubt, the primary point of your customer communication is technical support, but adding some personal elements to it will make a normal reply to a perfect one. In this part I am focusing more on the necessary attributes a customer support communication should possess to help the client to remember you even after the issue is forgotten.
5) Empathy & apology
If a customer complains about your product or tell you about a personal issue, empathize with the customer and apologize to him, if necessary. Sympathizing with the customer will not help as no one likes to be sympathized.
You can use the statements like the following ones to show your empathy in general:-
“I understand how you feel.”
“I would have responded/reacted the same way if I were you.”
“I can completely understand. If that happened to me I’d be really upset too. I can imagine how frustrating that must be.”
6) Avoid technical jargons
Most of the customers may not be tech savvy as you are. Hence try to avoid using too much technical terms in your reply whenever possible and explain things in simple plain English. Majority of the technical terms used in web hosting support varies with hosting control panels and it can be quite confusing even to an experienced developer or website owner.
For example: Disk quota -a technical term can also be called as disk space limit which is more understandable by a non technical person.
7) Avoid using too much canned responses
Most of the customers become nervous when they face an issue with their websites/products and needs help and hence they contact you. And they would like to interact with a person instead of seeing some canned responses from you. So, instead of simply sending out canned responses, respond in such way that customer will feel that you have understood his issue and is going to do everything you can to solve the issue.
“I understand your concern. That doesn’t sound good. Let me check what went wrong.”
Even though I am not a fan of canned replies, it can’t be eliminated completely, especially when you are running against time to keep the response time during server management activities such as DDOS, Hardware Failure, DC outages etc.
Even if you are in need of canned responses, make sure to tweak it for the client so that he feels that he is being taken care of personally
For Eg. Suppose if a client approaches with non-availability of his domain “abc.com”, you can give a reply like
“Your domain abc.com loads fine here”
instead of using a canned reply
” Your domain loads fine here”.
The domain name “abc.com” in the reply it self gives great assurance to the client that his domain is checked and the admin on the web hosting support side is actually working on it to resolve it.
8) Be a human
Yes, you heard it right. As I said earlier, most of the customers want to discuss their issue with a human. Sending out too much canned responses may not help in this cause. You should understand the issue and customer’s situation/emotions and respond accordingly with proper empathy statements. Your replies should make the customer more comfortable and make him feel that you have understood his concern/emotions and will do everything you can to help him.
For Eg: If one of the client says something like that
” The site is down for two hours and my son’s soccer match is about to start in one hour. I am not sure whether I can reach the ground on time after fixing the issue”
You may reply some thing like that
” Its a db issue, and will be resolved within a couple of hours. Be calm and enjoy the match. Convey our best wishes to his team as well :-)”
9) Take the ownership of the issue – Owning the issue and giving assurance will increase the confidence of the customer in you. However, you cannot assure him every time that the issue will be resolved. But you can assure him that you will take all measures that you can to resolve his issue.
It is noted that some times people use irresponsible replies such as ” The admin who worked on the shift has left and will be back after 20 hours. I am not sure about what he did. Please wait till he returns”
Unless the client has specifically asked for the particular one, the above reply is plain non-sense. Its your responsibility to get the details from the admin and help the client to resolve the issue.
A reply something like the below would be more ensuring to the client.
It seems that the issue is due to the customization with the web server. Let me check the issue and get details about the custom modifications done by the Mr.xxx, for you. Kindly standby for updates.
10) Avoid “Dead Air”
While assisting customer’s through Live chat/over phone you should respond to the customer quickly and should avoid “Dead Air” (Silence) for a long time.
If you need time to check something, you should ask permission from the customer to place him on hold.
“May I place you on hold for 2 minutes while I check this for you?” (Used when assisting clients over phone).
“Let me check this for you. Kindly standby for updates.”
If you used the first statement to place the customer on hold, make sure that you respond back to him within 2 minutes. If you need more time, you will need to ask him again like:-
“I am still checking on this. Please give me a couple of minutes more to check on this.”
If you feel that the issue requires in-depth investigation, you may ask him to open a support ticket so that you will be able to check it in detail. Some clients may not be comfortable in switching the mode of communication as Live Chat support is more responsive. But you should be able to convince the client that its for his benefit. You may use a reply some thing line the one given below
I am sorry. This issue requires additional investigation which may take some more time. Please open a support ticket at:- (Followed by the URL to open support ticket). We will investigate the issue and update you as soon as possible.
Always make sure to update the client at regular intervals. For eg. there might be occasional server administration tasks such as server migration or hardware replacements etc. which might take hours or days. If you had notified clients about the possibilities of such an operation, do update the clients about the progress at regular intervals. You can use helpdesk ticket system, emails, forum posts etc. for the same.
11) Put yourself in customer’s shoes
Imagine yourself in your customer’s situation and help him likely. Putting yourself in the customer’s position will help you to gain the necessary perspective to find a solution that is fitting and satisfying both for the customer and the company you represent. This will also help you to be patient with the customer and will definitely makes your interaction with the customer a better one.
For eg. if a customer is looking for seasonal sale and requires high bandwidth for a month, you can either move him to a dedicated plan or can increase the bw for a month for extra charge. You should discuss the pros and cons with the client with the possible financial outcomes and help him to take an informed decision. If you help him to meet his requirement without straining him much, it can be the start of a long relationship. 🙂
We will continue our discussions in the next posts.
Recommended Readings :
Category : Customer Care, Howtos, Training