When interacting with your customers there’s a stone cold fact that you should always remember.
Any conversation with a customer could be your last conversation with that customer.
In fact, US Companies lose more than $62 billion annually because of poor customer service and 82% of customers stop doing business with a company after only one negative experience.
That’s because person-to-person conversations have a huge impact on brand loyalty, which in turn has a massive impact on profits. Make no mistake about it, every single customer conversation matters. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your employees are able to converse with your audience without causing a major incident. This is where even a free helpdesk software would do the trick.
But how can you ensure that every conversation you have with a customer has a positive outcome? What can you do to maximize your interactions with potential and current customers to keep your company in the black?
Read on to find out.
Your customer support staff have to be able to speak effortlessly to your customers without creating drama or exacerbating a bad situation. They can communicate more effectively by refining the way that they speak.
The first thing that all customer-facing staff should do is to try and eliminate words like “um, uh, and like” from their collective vocabulary. Not only does this make your staff seem more intelligent, but it also helps them to reach their points faster when communicating with a customer. It’s important to remember that a customer’s time is valuable and it’s never a good idea to waste it.
In fact, 66% of adults feel that a company valuing their time is the most important thing that they can do to improve the customer experience
By eliminating those words from the collective speech of your staff, you can be sure that your company won’t be trying the patience of your audience. Instead, your staff will remain focused and attentive by choosing their words wisely
Certain words or phrases can move customer support conversations along. It’s important to encourage customers to tell their stories in order to get to the heart of a problem.
It’s also important to encourage staffers to optimize their conversation skills to ask more questions. This, in turn, encourages the customer to do a lot of the talking.
Another point to make when instructing your customer-facing staff on their interactions with your audience is to be mindful of their tone. If a customer senses that they are being condescended to, or if a support staffer is being rude to them, it will inevitably lead to negative reviews, abandonment, and a loss of revenue.
Speaking of tone, try to avoid discussing important matters with the customer through digital formats like text, email, and live chat. The reason for this specific piece of advice is that text conversations and emails can be easily misconstrued in terms of tone. Something you meant to be lighthearted or neutral can be read as abrasive or aggressive.
Save any heavy interactions for in-person meetings or phone calls.
The golden rule of conversation has always been, “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” When it comes to customer interactions this rings especially true. It is especially important to make sure your employees are policing their tone if they’re giving bad news. The difference between a thankful customer and an irate former customer is often the tone in which information is relayed.
Remember, empathy and compassion go a long way when speaking with customers. That’s not just an opinion, it is backed up by research.
American Express determined through a study that 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was the key to receiving positive service. With more than half of the surveyed customers stating that a pleasant demeanor is important to them, it should be taken very seriously and never overlooked.
One of the most important aspects of customer interactions is listening and letting the customer vent their frustrations. Trying to interject or argue will only make a bad situation worse. Let the customer lead the conversation and take you down the path that it is going to go on.
Take your lead from them, matching them every step of the way. When there is a break in the conversation or they’re pausing to get your reaction, make sure that you prove that you’re interested in their issues by asking probing questions.
This is an opportunity to let the customer tell you their story. When it is your time to speak, it is important that you don’t dismiss their emotions or try to tell the customer that they are wrong.
While listening, it’s a great idea to empathize but don’t interrupt or try to interject your own thoughts and opinions into their tale.
You should also find places within their stories to drop information about your services. If they’re talking about a particular want or need that they have you can casually mention a particular service that you offer which could help them out. But don’t make it overly salesy.
Instead, make a connection between the information that they’re giving you and the sale or support that you’re trying to make.
When engaged in a conversation with a customer, especially in a sales situation, the best outcome that you could hope to have is to hold the full attention of your prospect. However, that is not something that most consumers give away for nothing. Instead, you need to earn your customer’s full attention by giving them yours.
When engaged in an in-person conversation, make sure that you’re making eye contact with the customer and nod along with their story to show that you’re following what they are saying. Be actively engaged. If you’re looking away or are visibly annoyed or bored, you’re going to upset the customer and make them think that you don’t care. That’s one of the easiest ways to lose business.
All too often companies view online support as a means by which they can put a barrier between themselves and customer interactions. However, the times have changed and a new approach is needed.
Instead of shying away from interactions with your customers, you have to embrace a more human-centric mentality of service. This is achieved through people and technology. Getting to know your customers can be a great first step in this regard. That’s why it’s always worth it to take the time to humanize your customers and in turn, humanize yourself and your company in their eyes.
Take Diligent Notes
As a company, you deal with a lot of customers on a consistent basis (hopefully!).
That’s why it’s a good idea to take a lot of notes throughout each and every conversation with all of your clients. One of the worst mistakes you could make would be to accidentally mix up one of your customers with another. It makes your company look cold and uncaring, as though your customers were naught more than interchangeable dollar signs.
That’s why you should make sure that you are keeping track of their issues, successes, and stories in a CRM platform which can be shared across multiple departments within your company. The key benefit of such a set up is that it makes it easier for support and sales staffers to reference back to what a particular customer said in a previous conversation.
This becomes particularly vital when a customer is dealing with multiple agents. By taking complete notes throughout every single interaction, you’re informing the next agent in line so that they don’t make a mistake that could potentially lose business for the company.
Creating extensive customer profiles filled with details on every conversation helps to move the sales and retention process along and lets the customer feel as though the company truly values and understands them.
Referencing a personal anecdote you were told in a recent conversation goes a long way toward instilling a sense of brand loyalty in the hearts and minds of your customers.
Saying something along the lines of, “Oh, how was your daughter’s graduation?” to a customer makes them realize that you took the time to remember this casual piece of information. At that moment, your employee and your company become more than just a cold and unfeeling organization that wants their money. Instead, you become a valued friend. An organization that cares.
Once customers feel a sense of brand loyalty, it is difficult to get them to stray. Many customers have noted that they are willing to pay more to do business with a company that they like and trust. Give them a reason to think about you fondly. Take notes and ensure that every touchpoint that a customer has with your company is a positive and uplifting one.
Toss Out the Script
There is one unwritten rule of customer interactions. Whether it’s support or sales, scripted conversations are painful for everyone involved. The customer feels as though no effort is being put into them as an individual and the company representative is shackled by pre-approved dialogue choices.
When you’re trying to have conversations with your customers it’s important that you don’t pander to the audience. In other words, be real and don’t put on a show. Remember, customers will know if you’re being fake. It’s painfully obvious when a company representative is not being themselves. There’s a major difference between a scripted encounter and a legitimate conversation.
In order to have an effective conversation with a customer, it must be improvised. That’s because it’s impossible to know what your customer will care the most about, and overreliance on a script does not give you the flexibility to adapt to the situation.
Make sure that whenever you’re speaking with a customer, you keep things spontaneous, fresh, and always respectful. That is the most effective way to engage with them in an honest manner that will not be insulting while giving you the freedom to help to the best of your ability.
In order to achieve success in business, it’s important to keep your existing customers coming back for more. That is best achieved through positive customer experiences. While there are many ways to enhance your customer experience, one of the easiest and most controllable ways is to communicate effectively and make every conversation with a customer positive.
Customer experience is vital to continued success. Studies have shown that customer experience is one of the key factors that determine retention. Customer retention is vital to the continued success of a business. This proves particularly true when you consider that it costs between five and 25 times more to bring on new customers than it does to hold onto the ones you already have.
When it comes to something so important, you can’t leave anything to chance. It’s important to ensure that your customer experience is top notch, encourages increased brand loyalty, and creates a positive and caring business environment. The first step toward achieving this ultimate customer experience is to create a caring and compassionate environment, and that starts with an effective and respectful conversation.
Learn to speak effectively, manage your tone, listen effectively, and throw away your sales script and you will see increased loyalty and, in turn, increased business as a result of your customer conversations.