Working as a support agent has its perks. Sometimes you’re rewarded with a great feeling of helping your customer. Sometimes you go the extra mile and the client takes his time to write your management some nice feedback. And sometimes…you get frustrated, demotivated, and start questioning if what you do even has a purpose. Trust me, we’ve all been there. Worst thing you can do is make your customers feel your disappointment. It’s easier said than done, but under every circumstance – you are obligated to take the high road. Let’s build our premise on this fact. So, how do you be your best self when times get tough? Here are the do’s and don’ts:
1. Be yourself and authentic (to a certain point 🙂
We all have personal characteristics that determine how we’re going to interact with people. If you chose a career as a customer support professional, let’s just assume that you did it deliberately and you feel comfortable with helping people and being very patient while doing it. That doesn’t mean you have to be “another brick in the wall”, don’t be afraid to be yourself and make your chats, emails or calls human-like. How do you achieve that?
- Avoid extensive usage of canned messages and clichés. Saying: “I’d be frustrated too” does not come even close to empathy and it just screams automated response.
- Use full sentences. Don’t fall into the trap of replying “yes” or “fine” to a customer’s questions. Provide a complete answer, even if it isn’t required. The customer will appreciate it.
- Try to connect with your customer. Humor is the best ice-breaker. If you’re in the process of solving his issues and you have few minutes to spare, crack a joke, try to find something you have in common. Is it sports team? TV show? Current affairs? Give it a try. Worst case scenario? The customer will tell you it’s not the time for fun. Never mind, at least you tried and when it works, the results can be hilarious. Customer came for advice? Well, he can leave with a great overview of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career and his haircuts (true story).
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It’s fantastic that you are an expert and know your product from top to bottom. Every piece of it. JSON calls? SSO supported via LDAP? Credentials hashed via SHA-256? Well, good for you 🙂 However, assuming that your customer is going to understand all the acronyms and technical details is not the best presumption. Unless you are 100% sure that you’re talking to real expert on the other side, please speak human. Explain, be patient, and try to help your customer understand. If necessary, politely suggest that he would need a qualified assistant on his side, and try to provide all the information and documentation you can for this person. At the end of the day, it’s way better to set customer expectations correctly and honestly, rather than trying to make a coder out of a human resources manager.
- Avoid using tech talk when describing features or how they work (“hook it up with our REST API”)
- Don’t be sarcastic. Even if the customer is being difficult and does not understand, don’t irritate them. Remain calm and explain yourself.
- In case that your conversation went south and customer left disappointed because of overwhelming technical jargon, do a follow up. Find a few minutes, think of some simple explanations and send an email over. Your client will really appreciate you not giving up on them.
3. Don’t. sound. Like. A. computer.
Customers come to you with same issues over and over. Every day, the same story. It’s easy to let yourself slide into a stereotype and go chat by chat in the same pattern. It’s understandable that some canned messages have to be used and there is a place for replies like these in customer support area, however, ask yourself: Do you really need to use so many of them? Even the best written predefined answer just does not sound right in a “natural”, human-like conversation. A way out of this is really simple – use canned messages only when you have to. Otherwise, be yourself, be authentic (see tip no.1).
- If you really, really need to use canned message, at least try to edit it so it slips seamlessly into the ongoing conversation.
- Make sure that your answers directly reflect customer questions and his style of communication. Trust me when I say that they can tell when you use half-measured automated messages.
- Write in full sentences with punctuation. Make your replies informative, but not too formal. Live chat is a specific form of communication. You have to show respect (that goes without saying). Nevertheless, it’s still a real time chat on the internet. Loosen up a bit 🙂
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