Customer service is a tricky business. With so many conflicting personalities and challenges, it can be challenging to manage expectations and turn a bad situation into a positive one. The frontline workers often bear the brunt of customer frustration, and it can be tough to stay composed.
Some businesses think that the customer is always right and that you should never tell them what to do. However, a part of solving a customer’s problem means outlining next steps. Here’s how to tell customers what to do in a way that benefits the business.
Listen to Understand
The first step to being able to tell a customer what to do is to listen. Give them a platform to convey their difficulty and outline the problem. While this step seems obvious and straightforward, it’s surprisingly difficult for a lot of people. The main reason is that as humans, there’s an innate compulsion to respond. As a result, we don’t listen to understand; we listen to start formulating a response. Jumping ahead with a solution can end up exacerbating the initial problem.
Take time to listen to what the customer is saying. Ask clarifying questions and repeat things back to them for confirmation. Once the customer has confirmed that you understand the problem and why they’re frustrated, you can move onto providing the solution.
While technology has a lot of perks for businesses and consumers, it can create some communication gaps. In many cases, frustrated customers forget that it’s a human on the other end of the phone. It’s easy for them to be angry to an anonymous individual that’s miles away.
With chat, the challenges intensify. Using a customer chat service is a great way to communicate with customers, walk them through problems, explain how and why they can make a purchase, etc. However, chat removes not only body language, but tone and personality as well.
Whether you’re dealing with a support issue or telling a customer how to do something on your website, add a human element. Look for a chat service that allows emojis and customization (see the live chat software guide from Accu Web Hosting for more information). Maintain professionalism while allowing for casual conversation and humor to shine through.
Empathy goes a long way when working with a customer. Taking time to validate their feelings and acknowledge their experience builds customer satisfaction and trust. This added effort could be the deciding factor in if a customer becomes a repeat customer.
Phrases like, “I’m sorry, that sounds frustrating.” Show a customer that their concerns matter to the business. As a result, they’re more willing to cooperate and listen when you tell them how to do things, as they feel you’re doing so with their best interests at heart.
Be a Guide
Be a guide for your customers. Don’t just tell them what to do; stay with them throughout the process. For example, consider a customer who asks a question about pricing through your live chat.
Saying, “Go to our pricing page and everything you need will be there.” effectively tells a customer what to do, but doesn’t guide them through the process.
Conversely, saying, “All of our pricing information is available on our pricing page. If you go to the top navigation bar, it’s the third option from the right. Let me know when you’re there. Good! I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the information,” is guiding them through the process.
The difference is that a guide makes the customer experience easier. In the first example, the customer could glance around the page, not see the link and head to the competition. In the second example, you’ve not only told the customer what to do but how to do it. You’ve also started a conversation, creating an opening for closing the sale.
Always Follow Up
You’re not going to have an immediate solution for every problem. If that’s the case, you should still be telling the customer what to do next. Additionally, you should tell them what you’re going to do next to help them. This helps manage expectations and shows the customer that you haven’t brushed them off.
If a problem can’t be solved immediately, let them know what’s going to happen and when they can expect to hear something. In this case, you’re telling them that they need to wait (though your wording should be softer). You should also tell them what to do if they haven’t gotten a solution by a specified time or what they should do if a solution isn’t available.
Make it a Request
Turning your direction into a request gives the customer the feeling of control over a situation. Rather than saying, “I need you to give me access to your account for this,” try saying, “could you please give me access to your account so I can try X?”
Sometimes customers need to be told what to do but don’t want to feel as though they’re being undermined. Your phrasing can make all the difference.
Giving customers clear, concise information will improve your trust and rapport. This skill will turn prospects into customers and improve customer retention efforts.