In many IT Managed Services and Solution Provider organizations, especially the smaller ones, there’s often not a dedicated Customer Service resource. Generally, we will have Sales Professionals, Account Managers, Technicians, Network Engineers, and some administrative resources. For many of us, the mentality is that EVERYONE is a Customer Service resource. This is fine enough, except that sometimes we might forget to spend time training our team on the skills that are required to be GOOD at Customer Service.
And, since improving customer service is one of the simplest, least expensive things we can do to increase customer satisfaction, it’s probably worth putting a little time into training our teams on these important skills. The following are a few simple tips for improving customer satisfaction through some good Customer Service techniques. These 6 tips will work for Sales Professionals and Account Managers when they take customer calls about issues needing to be addressed, and they will work for Service Desk Technicians, Network Engineers, Managers, and Accounting and A/R resources as well.
Tip #1: Fix everything twice
The first solution is to actually fix the problem. The second solution is the thing that stops it from ever happening again.
Treat tech supports calls like the NTSB treats airline accidents. Every time a plane crashes, they send out investigators, figure out what happened, and then create a new policy to prevent that particular problem from ever happening again. And; statistically speaking, we’re safer getting on a plane than we are getting into a car as a result.
Tip #2: Choose your words wisely
Choosing our words and when to use them when we’re conversing with customers is critical. There are myriad applications of this principle. In a tech support context, for example, avoid highlighting user errors or anything that might make the customer feel insulted or stand-offish, like the classic example, “is your keyboard plugged in?” Instead of telling a customer to check a setting, suggest that they change the setting and then change it back “just to make sure.” The fact is that perception is reality, and your job in Customer Service is to create the perception that you have helped. Even if your customer is at fault or the cause of the problem, there’s no good reason to point it out. Just help to fix it.
Tip #3: Make customers fans
This has to do with expectations. Most people’s experiences with tech support and customer service come from airlines, telephone companies, cable companies, and ISPs…many of whom are generally perceived to provide terrible customer service. When someone calls for customer service at your company, look at it as an opportunity to set yourself apart and create a fanatically devoted customer, one who will ramble on and on (preferably loudly) about what a great job you did.
Tip #4: Take the blame
“It’s my fault.” When you (or your team) have made a mistake, own it. Most customers judge their service providers less on the instance of errors, and more on the manner in which those errors are addressed. Our customers run businesses themselves, and expect the occasional mistake to happen, then expect us, like themselves, to resolve it appropriately. As frustrating and discordant as some customer service situations can be, never underestimate the disarming power of these three little words: “it’s my fault.” After you’ve said this, of course, apologize immediately for the inconvenience and fix the problem as quickly as possible.
Tip #5: Get into character
It’s completely natural to have trouble saying “It’s my fault.” That’s human. But those three words are going to make your angry customers much happier, so you’re going to have to say them, and you’re going to have to sound like you mean it.
There is only one way to survive dissatisfied customers emotionally: you have to realize that they’re not angry at you personally; they’re angry at the situation, and you just happen to be involved in that situation – and maybe even the cause of it. So get into your Customer Service character, and stop taking it personally!
Tip #6: Be Nice!
Don’t be a stickler about returns or exchanges. Recognize that replacing something today to satisfy a griping customer may cost a few bucks and a little time, but that it’s a small price to pay to maintain the lifelong value of that customer relationship. This tip relates back to #3—these small concessions are easy ways to turn customers into fans and to keep them feeling valued and loyal to you. Make sure your customers know that they don’t have to wonder about whether you’ll take care of them. When they know they don’t have to worry, they’ll be nice right back.
You can easily leverage these 6 ideas to make your customers happier with your service than they may be today. Train your team, and help them understand the value of treating your customers correctly and with respect during unpleasant situations. Remember that it’s always easier and less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and win a new one.
For more training on great Customer Service, and all aspects of running your successful IT Managed Services and Solution Provider business, please visit our Managed Services Training page here. Stay tuned for more great education from MSP University’s Education and Training department.
Do any of you have any stories about providing great Customer Service? We’d love to hear your comments, stories, and feedback.