Customer Success Strategies - The Conversationalist Approach
In todays modern society, corporate and robotic chit-chat is not enough when interacting with your customers. These folks have more choice than they've ever had before and the minute they don't feel like you're taking them seriously, they're gone, as is your reputation to the countless friends they complained to in frustration. The boundaries that once existed between companies and customers are breaking down on a rapid scale - to the point where companies must now treat these customers in the same way they'd treat a personal friendship, because ultimately, thats what this has become.
Its also the whole 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' mentality. When your customer buys from you, they are in turn 'scratching your back', so you can see how they get a little narked off when you don't return the favor when they come to you with an issue. They expected more, just as a friend would have.
The fact of the matter is that problems and queries should now be solved through a running dialogue of conversation. Gone are the days of the copy and paste generic responses and here are the days of meaningful relationship building, hurrah! Below are several techniques you should always ensure are integrated within your responses to customers, whether its a complaint, enquiry or their simply just dropping by to say hello (because now that customers are friends, this does actually happen).
There's nothing worse than a customer receiving a response laced with spelling errors, poor phrasing and terrible grandma when they're already ticked off (see what I did there?). This isn't to say you have to scan every single word to make sure its picture perfect, but at a bare minimum make sure the phrasing can be understood and most importantly MAKE SURE THE CUSTOMERS NAME IS SPELT CORRECTLY.
A conversation is personal, thats why its a conversation and not just small talk. There should be absolutely no reason why you can't for example, add a harmless smiley face :) to the end of a sentence where appropriate to convey emotion. It's not unprofessional if done in the right way and leaves the customer feeling acknowledged on a more personal level. Did you recently see their company listed somewhere in an ad/paper/website/WOM? Great! Let them know about it and what you liked about it (even if you didn't like it). Clearly there are levels of 'personability' dependent on who you are talking to and you don't want to step out of line, so use your judgement because one size does not fit all. The point is, just make the customer aware that you ARE a person, not a robot, that you ARE here to help them out and they you DO care.
Make a Promise - and STICK to it
If its an issue a customer has and you need to look into it - tell them that you will be back in touch with them as soon as you've figured out whats going on. If you aren't able to figure out whats going on or have been unable to contact the person who is meant to know, ALWAYS shoot them another message by the end of THEIR day to let them know that you're still working on it, but as you value them getting in touch you wanted to reach out regardless just to keep them in the loop and then apologize. The fact is, you didn't have to reach out, but you did, because you care - and they will appreciate that which buys you more time.
Thank Them For Putting Up With This
If you're asking them to do something, such as take print screens, send feedback or describe a problem, make them aware you understand they shouldn't have to be doing this and thank them profusely for it. The corporate way of thinking is "well, if they don't send us these things how are we meant to be able to fix anything?!", but as far as your customer is concerned, this problem shouldn't have even occurred in the first place and they are going out of their way to help YOU. This is probably one of the biggest issues that companies overlook and it really does have a negative impact.
Offer a compromise
If your customer is upset about something, reinstate their belief in you by offering them an 'apology gift' while you sort out the issue. If there is no further inquiry needed offer them the appropriate compensation for their troubles. Remember, in friendship actions speak louder than words and a simple 'we're sorry' in this situation is the bare minimum effort.
In a nutshell, the following techniques will allow you to remain out of the dog house and in your customers good books, for now and well into the future. Remember, treat this relationship as you would any other friendship conversation - because that is how long lasting relationships are built.