Considering it is less expensive for companies to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one, it is essential for businesses to deliver exceptional customer service and support at the moment people need it. While providing help is not a novel concept, many brands fail to do it effectively causing shoppers unnecessary frustration and dissatisfaction. I encountered a situation that demonstrates this point.
Customer Service Gone Wrong
When I first created my customer experience blog using the popular WordPress platform, I needed assistance in setting up pages and adding features. I searched everywhere on the company website for an 800# to call, but never found a customer service contact number. Eventually, I figured out that there is a customer support chat option, but could only access it if I upgraded to a premium account. While I did not want an additional expense, I ended up paying for support to address technical challenges.
Chatting with an online customer service representative was helpful when my questions were not of urgent nature. On the contrary, when needing a fast solution, such as when my contact form was missing and the registration button was not working, calling a live agent was and still is all that I care about.
After MANY hours of chatting with online support, I resolved my issues. Yet, because of the frustrating experience, I started to explore switching to a competitor’s platform. In the end, I chose to stay a paying customer, but other people dealing with similar circumstances will leave without hesitation. There are important customer experience lesson for all brand leaders that goes far beyond launching a website.
4 Customer Service Best Practices
1. Make it effortless for customers to get support. If calling an 800# is an option, do not hide the contact information on the company website. Display the number in an intuitive location. If, for example, there is a billing support team, include the number on the Pay Bill page where customer questions typically arise.
2. Do not allow internal business processes to affect customer experiences. If there are no representatives in place to handle calls, figure out a way to get resources. Customers do not care about company costs. They are only concerned about getting quality help quickly in the method that they want help.
3. Understand customer preferences and test options. Some people want to call an 800# for support, while others prefer not to talk to anyone and find answers in an FAQ section or community forum. My favorite is a “call me” option or sometimes shown as “schedule a call” like Apple offers in the example below. It’s especially effective when a timeframe is included (“Chat with us in 2 minutes or less”) so people can plan accordingly. The key is to test and apply learnings.
4. Get Customer Feedback And Leverage Insights. Ask individuals to rate their support experience and allow for open comments (verbatims) to uncover pain points. Be sure to share learning with cross-teams and “close the loop” to drive improvements.
It is obvious why various companies do not offer easy access to customer support, as rep talk time can be expensive. However, brands that focus on creating satisfying experiences at EVERY POINT OF THE JOURNEY, especially the “get help” phase, achieve loyal customers and brand advocates.
Are you doing customer service right?
Tell me your stories and what would you add to my list of best practices?