An excellent article by Melanie Brooks caught my eye on FreelanceSwitch recently: 5 Ways to Get Better Customer Service. In it, she lists five things you can do when you feel you’re not getting the support you deserve. It’s a great read.
But what about when you’re the one giving support – for example, for your marketplace items. What do Melanie’s five points mean to you?
Well, let’s turn them around, and list five ways you can give better support.
1. Be Polite
Melanie advises those seeking good customer support to be polite. Whether they take her advice or not, you definitely must remain polite when giving customer service to your clients and customers. Anything else will make you look unprofessional, and will only aggravate your client.
If you’re giving support over email, the other person won’t be able to hear your tone of voice, and things you never meant to be rude might seem that way. Also, overly brief answers might seem rude. So always read over your emails before hitting send. Is there any ambiguity in what you wrote? Could anything you wrote be interpreted as rudeness? Is your advice detailed enough?
2. Own the Role of Helping Your Customers
When trying to get customer support from a large company, Melanie’s advice is to hang up and ring back until you find someone who can help you. Such companies often have hundreds of support staff with a wide range of skill levels. Sometimes you can almost hear them reading the script. It’s worth a little effort to find someone who really knows what they’re talking about.
But as a marketplace author, you don’t have that luxury. When it comes to support, you’re it! You need to see yourself as your own head of customer service. Own the role! If you don’t give quality support to your customers, no one else will.
3. Keep an Eye on Social Media for Customer Service Opportunities
One piece of good advice in the FreelanceSwitch article is that if you don’t feel you’re getting anywhere through the official support channels, tweet your complaint or mention it on Facebook. “Be sure to focus on the specific complaint instead of something vague, and tag the company on Facebook and Twitter,” Melanie advises.
Your own customers might do that too. There’s nothing worse than reaching out to someone over social media, and being ignored. So make sure to check for mentions on both Twitter and Facebook regularly. At least daily.
Besides providing great support, you’re also doing great marketing by showing you’re on the ball, polite, and competent.
4. Be Prepared and Communicate
Before you are contacted about support issues, be prepared by thinking through some potential issues, and creating documentation in advance. After you are contacted about support issues, update your documentation so that you are prepared for those issues in future.
Consider how you can make the support process easier for everyone. Consider creating a support service policy.
5. Take Angry Customers Seriously – Calmly
Melanie’s last point in her article is,”When all else fails, get angry.” Her point is that, if you are not satisfied after trying normal channels, “get mad with proof”.
Although you can’t control or always predict the reactions of others, you should make it a priority to never let things get to this stage. By carefully following the advice in the previous points that will probably be so. Anger normally results from a customer feeling that they are not being listened to after trying unsuccessfully to receive the support they feel they are entitled to.
So it’s worth taking angry customers seriously. They are likely to speak loudly about their dissatisfaction, which isn’t the sort of advertising you are looking for. Don’t join the in their anger – keep your responses calm and professional, but try to go the second mile with them, even though that may be the last thing you feel like doing. If you are feeling a little sensitive after their “enthusiastic” communication, it might be best to take a little time out rather than responding immediately. Just don’t take too much time, or things may get worse.
It may be that they have a good point. In that case, do what you can for them, and do it pleasantly and helpfully. More difficult is the case where they are asking for something you’re unable to give them. They may have unrealistic expectations, or have assumed that your item can do something it clearly stated that it couldn’t do. In that case, remain calm and polite. Tell them clearly the situation, and respectfully point out any documentation or evidence that backs up your claim.
Customer support can be difficult or challenging. But it’s among the best ways of keeping your current customers, and it encourages them to speak positively of your items to others. Consider it an important role, and part of your marketing strategy.
Do you have any customer service tips we haven’t covered here? Please let us know in the comments.
And if you are interested in reading further on the topic, here are some worthwhile articles: