You’ve probably read epic tales of over-the-top customer service. Zappos sent pizzas to their customers. Morton’s Steakhouse comes great a customer at the airport with a Porterhouse after receiving a tweet…
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
You don’t need to go that far to create memorable customer experiences.
I was reading through Help Scout’s amazing roundup of unforgettable customer service stories and you know what they all have in common?
They are all profoundly human stories!
In a world where companies are still largely operated like machines, a small human touch can make a world of difference.
We can agree that we are all human (sorry Google bot if you are reading that, nothing against you). Yet, human customer experiences don’t just happen.
You need to build a company that allows them to happen as often as possible!
Trust Customer Service Employees Instead Of Turning Them Into Robots
You know what never happens?
Customers raving about how good your customer service script or live chat canned responses were.
Seriously, I dare you to find one good customer service story featuring a script!
We’ve covered the use of scripts in the past. Long story short, customer service scripts aren’t our best friends.
So what happens when you get rid of scripts?
If that’s all you do. The answer would likely be nothing.
Operators might sound a bit more human at first, but that’s about it.
Give employees a large but defined range of action
If employee don’t know how much they can really do, they’ll put up their own limits out of fear.
Take this common B2B situation for example:
A customer asks for a discount because they have a small business and can’t afford to pay full price for your software.
In a fear oriented environment:
The answer will always be the same depending on what the company rules are or what is usually done: “We don’t give discounts” “We have 20% off for small businesses…” “Let me see with my manager”…
In a company where employees are empowered:
The answer will be different every time depending on the customer’s situation and needs. Employees will likely try to learn more about the customer’s budget, what they want out of the product…
With all this information they’ll be able to make an informed decision: give a discount, offer an alternative solution or apologize and explain why they can’t lower the price.
We’re used to have limits to our freedom. The only way to enjoy the full extend of this piece of freedom that we have is to know what our limits are.
With employees, you can start by giving them a range of action: eg. You can give up to a 50% discount, you can offer 5 free coffees a day…
This gives them an idea of how far they can go but the decision to give a discount or not is still theirs.
If you want to give them full freedom of decision, tell them and guide them on how to take the right decision.
Lead by example and foster positive peer-pressure
No matter how inspiring your values, no one will follow them just because they are on the wall.
At work and any other social situations, the rules that matter the most are the unspoken ones.
If everyone in the company leaves as soon as their shift ends, you’ll likely end up doing the same. If everyone stays late, you’ll also end up staying late.
Keep in mind that employees will learn more by imitating colleagues than via all the trainings you make them go through.
It’s up to you to make sure current employees are setting up the right example.
– give people a reason to be proud of their job
– praise actions, not only people (You can attribute the action to a team or employee but remember to praise the action, not just the person).
It’s Not About What You Say Or Do, It’s About How You Listen
There are so many articles out there about what words you should and shouldn’t say when talking to customers.
Positive language does matter. Being a good listener matters even more.
I will now point you to a great article by Buzzfeed (yup, you read that right. And don’t pretend you don’t like Buzzfeed): Tips to actually listen when someone else is talking.
They have tons of useful tips in there: mind your body language, find something to agree with, add to the conversation using “and” rather than using “but”…
Here are some of my favorite tips to show customers you are listening:
Ask questions but remember you are not interrogating the other person
Asking the right questions will help you accomplish 2 things:
– it will show customers that you care, understand them and are actually listening
– it will help you learn a bit more about your customer and what they really want
Still, you need to know when to stop.
Have you ever had a friend or acquaintance ask you so many questions that you just wanted to crawl under the table?
It can turn a friendly conversation into your worst nightmare. Please, don’t do this to your poor customers!
You need to find the perfect mix between asking, reacting and sharing.
Learn to small talk like a boss
I know a lot of people who hate small talk. They have this “Please, get straight to the point” kind of vibe (I’m sure you know what I mean).
I personally love small talk and think it is a brilliant way to connect with almost anyone.
The hardest part is to get a more meaningful and memorable conversation started with small talk. It feels like a lot of people, especially in business, will mention the weather (or any other random topic) at the beginning of the conversation just because it is a polite thing to do.
It goes a bit like this:
“What a terrible weather today”
“Oh yes, when will the sun finally come!”
“Ok, so about your order…”
The transition is the complete opposite of smooth and the empty weather talk is everything but memorable…
While researching “memorable customer experience” on Google, I found this article on Inc: Make Your Customer Service Memorable.
And here’s what he remembers of his experience booking his first room with Hotel Tonight:
“The experience that followed with the Hotel Tonight representative, whom I shall call Ivy, was wonderful. Here is why she made the experience memorable: After a courteous greeting, and with my inquiry out of the way, Ivy asked me what brought me to DC. While not an uncommon or even unique question, after speaking with several other reservation agents who followed an unflinching and impersonal dialogue, the question caught me off guard. I joked about being on a road trip with in-laws and two small children. She joked about the condition of my sanity. We then had a good laugh at the entire situation.”
Nothing big. She just took time to have a genuine conversation with the author.
She didn’t get small talk out of the way, she listened!
Make It Easy For Customers To Remember Your Brand
I suppose that, ideally, you’d like customers to associate their awesome customer experience with your brand.
For that, you need memorable branding!
That’s exactly what we are working on right now for CustomerIcare. I wrote about the importance of branding and culture last week and I want to share more of our journey with you in the future.
This week, I wanted to focus on what makes a brand memorable and put together the Slide Deck below to share our research process:
What makes a brand memorable?
Here’s a quick look at the important ideas included in the Slidedeck.
Big brands are memorable because they have a number of small elements put together:
– simple design and a simple name
– a unique personality
– a good story
– and, above all, a good knowledge of their customers
All these elements put together make your company unique and help you be more memorable.
This means that if customers have a good experience with you, they’ll remember your name, your logo, your website and they will come back.
Every employee is an ambassador for your brand
Every company can have 1 or 2 exceptional customer service employees who consistently WOW customers. The hard part is to make sure all your employees create memorable customer experiences.
In the end, you don’t want people to think “Oh, John Doe was the best customer service rep ever”. You want them to think (and say) things like “Wow, Amazon’s customer service is the best” or “Just had the best conversation with John from Netflix!”
You need to create an environment where employees are lifting each other up and consistently offer a similar customer experience.
Building Memorable Customer Experiences With Live Chat
Live chat is a central customer service channel for us. Makes sense, since we are selling a live chat solution.
However, being a live chat company doesn’t mean we’re automatically assigned live chat super powers. Like most of our customers, we constantly try new things and learn about how website visitors use the tool to communicate with us.
Just being there when customers need you turns out to be memorable enough
Surprisingly, the simple fact of being easy to reach is a big plus in the online world nowadays.
With live chat, twitter, forums, phone… You’d think it’s easier than ever to get in touch with online companies.
Well, not really.
The reality often translates to long wait times, ignored messages, never ending redirections to the company’s FAQ…
A lot of customers are still surprised to get a direct answer when they start a chat with you.
Bring the whole team on board
Since we don’t have crazy traffic on our website, we can all afford to log in to CustomerIcare few hours a day to take chats.
There will often be few of us (including our CEO, our sales team and the marketing team) available to take chats during the day. This allows us to transfer chatters to the right person if needed.
I will, for example, take care of chatters asking for article or data about live chat or who have questions about articles we wrote.
There is a wow factor to it because customers can speak with the person who was in charge of building the product they are inquiring about (articles in my case).
Think about it for 1 second: how often do you get to speak with someone who actually worked on the product, website, service you have questions about?
Be friendly, be human, be genuine
Being too formal on chat is counterproductive: it forces you to write longer sentences and it makes you look like a robot.
I know some people won’t agree with me but I really like using emojis when talking to customers.
They’re the only way I found to replace a smile.
I was glad when Buffer published an article about emojis, apparently I am not the only adult using them daily!
If you have international customers (or time to kill), SwiftKey published an amazing study about the use of emojis around the world.
You don’t need to use emojis. Just be a little more casual than you would in an email.
And the most important rule of all: Be positive and genuine.
The biggest mistake you can make in customer service is to lie to customers.
In the SaaS startup industry, it can be tempting to promise customers new features with a vague release date. It’s almost always a bad idea.
You are basically creating expectations that you will have a really hard time to meet.
Be straight forward with customers about what you can or can’t do and always try to be positive about it.
Wow, That Was A Long Read. Glad You Made It To The End!
We’re actively working on building a better brand right now but we also try to implement small changes every day to make the customer experience more memorable and enjoyable.
So let’s sum up what we saw in this article:
1. Memorable customer experiences are made of small details
2. You don’t need to be the superhero of customer service, just be human
3. Trust your employees and empower them
4. Become a better listener
5. Give your brand a personality
6. If you’re up for it, give our live chat a try
Enough talking for me, on to you!
What do you think makes a customer experience memorable? Do you have any customer service stories you remember to this day?
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