At The Receptionist for iPad, customer service is a core part of our identity and our brand. And as we’ve said before, a genuine connection with customers provides for the best customer service.
This kind of personal connection goes well beyond the buttoned-up, professional interactions that customers are used to with most customer service reps. Our customers know our employees’ names — and maybe even their plans for the weekend. For their part, our support staff knows things like when customers have big presentations coming up, and what issues their company faces.
How do we get to this point with customers? Firstly, we’re deliberate about our hiring process. We actively search for friendly, empathetic people who will strive to cultivate quality relationships, both with the team and with our customers.
We also take extra care to be authentic in other ways. That can often mean skipping standard shortcuts and automated processes so that we can truly understand and connect with our customers.
Here are a few easy ways we ensure that we are truly authentic at The Receptionist. You can use all of these tactics at your own company to create a more authentic connection with customers, too.
Ditch the scripted responses
Automating as much of any interaction as possible is common in modern customer service. Anyone who has worked in support knows the pressure of making sure that the queue of requests gets emptied within a reasonable time. We also know how tedious it can be to answer the same questions from customers over and over again.
These factors often cause support reps to jump to conclusions about what a customer needs and respond with pre-written, scripted responses before they truly understand what the customer is asking.
Automation isn’t the enemy here, but quick assumptions and scripted responses may lead to your customer service team sounding too formal or failing to listen carefully enough to what customers are saying: which leads to your company feeling inauthentic to customers.
Instead, reps need to consciously take an extra moment in each customer interaction to fully grasp what customers actually need before they suggest a solution. Summarizing the customer’s issue and repeating it back to them can help your reps to take this pause, and ensure they’re getting all of the information necessary to solve a customer’s issue.
Although it’s fine to keep standard responses to common issues on hand, the best responses to customers come when they’re off-script, and with language that sounds more like friends having a conversation than a stiff, business-like interaction.
For more on how we connect with customers using the right kind of language, listen to our podcast on the topic of Writing How Your Customers Talk.
If you find that your reps are still rushing through customer responses or relying too heavily on shortcuts, an adjustment to the way their success is measured may be necessary. Instead of focusing on resolution times, consider looking at customers’ satisfaction levels after each interaction.
We discuss more about “interactional data” and the tool we use to measure it in our post on getting the most out of your Net Promoter Score.
Be honest if you don’t know an answer
Customer service reps have a natural desire to portray themselves as an all-knowing expert. Admitting to not knowing an answer to a customer’s question can make reps feel like they’ve failed, or that they’ve been exposed as not knowing enough about their company’s services and customers.
But trying to cover up any ignorance when it comes to a customer issue is a bad idea. Accidentally suggesting the wrong solution or otherwise pretending to know something you don’t will end up damaging the customer relationship much more than just admitting you’re not sure about the right answer.
Acknowledging that you may not have the answer immediately humanizes you to your customers. It’s more direct and shows some vulnerability, which will help you build more authentic human connections with customers.
If you’re unsure, don’t go silent. Tell them that you’re working hard to find a solution for them, then provide a realistic timeline for resolution. You’ve now put yourself on the same problem-solving ‘team’ as your customer and have helped to build that authentic brand message.
Personalize the onboarding experience
Subjectively, we all know that good first impressions are important. That’s not just hearsay—it’s based on real science. The human brain is wired to make snap judgments first and then look for evidence to support those judgments: otherwise known as ‘confirmation bias’.
And as we discussed in our post Why Your Office Might Need a Director of First Impressions, this is why first impressions often produce a self-reinforcing feedback loop. If a customer has a bad initial experience with your support team they are more likely to look for mistakes, unfriendliness, or other issues in each ensuing interaction.
Our product here at The Receptionist is software, which naturally has an onboarding process. This is a particularly crucial stage for your customer service team, as customers work to set up the system correctly and learn to use it the right way. But any company must pay close attention to your customers’ experiences in the early stages of their relationship with your business.
During these early stages, your support team must invest extra time and attention to prove to customers that they’re more than just a number to your company. This is where you can really come across as authentic by avoiding too many scripted or generalized messages and tailoring the support to their unique needs.
Keep pricing and promotions straightforward and direct
A solid marketing strategy is crucial for any company’s success.
However, certain marketing tactics can damage your relationships with customers. If you want to prioritize authenticity, make sure customers never feel manipulated by disingenuous marketing practices or gimmicks designed to separate them from their cash.
What this means for your company will vary based on your product. More authenticity might mean cutting down on the number of sales and price fluctuations that happen throughout the year or publishing a straightforward pricing page on your website that doesn’t hide behind a phone number or email address.
For our Receptionist team, authenticity means offering a free trial of our product to potential customers without any other obligations on their end. Many other SaaS products require a credit card on file in order for potential customers to access the trial — which we as consumers know can result in an unwanted charge because we forgot to cancel on time.
We want each payment we receive to be made with enthusiasm for a product that delivers great value.We want each payment we receive to be made with enthusiasm for a product that delivers great value. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet
Other software companies also choose to limit the features available to trial users, but The Receptionist’s free trial gives potential customers full access to our software. We offer our trial users a clear, unrestricted view of what they’ll actually be paying for if they sign up.
We believe that our attempt at honesty and directness helps to build a company and customer relationship based on respect and authenticity.
Putting authentic relationships at the heart of our customer service has worked well for us at The Receptionist: It’s a big part of how we quadrupled our client base in just 15 months.
For more on how we approach customer service at The Receptionist, start with this post: Why We Trademarked the Term Radical Support.
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