Leave the Ticket System at the DMV. Support Your Customers Through Conversations.
Treating support queries from your customers as tickets is wrong. It's the online equivalent of waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you want your customers to think you care about them, they should never feel like they're just another number in a long list. All business should be personal. You want every customer to feel like they're involved in a one-on-one conversation, which means responding quickly, honestly, personally and proactively.
For a lot of companies, it's difficult to transition to this kind of support. That’s why at Intercom, we drew up best practice guidelines to help you get there. We started with 10 Tips to Make Your Customer Support More, Well, Personal. Here are another five:
1. Know your product inside out.
It almost goes without saying, but when new features are being added, or old ones removed, your knowledge of thye product will become stale a lot quicker than you think. If you can't give your users an answer, or worse still, you give them the wrong answer, you're not supporting them.
Become an encyclopedia of knowledge about how your product works and what it is capable of. Use it every single day. Don't just assume a feature is working and forget about it. Providing awesome support is so much easier when you have that level of knowledge of your own product.
2. Provide the experience you'd like to receive as a customer.
Go the extra mile to make sure you're knocking it out of the park. Read over your response before sending it, and make sure it's the best it can be. Treat every response as if you were sending it to your most valuable customer, every time.
If you can't stand over each and every response and say "yeah, I did my best here," then don't send it. This high standard is most difficult when you're busy, but it's what will set you apart from the rest.
3. Resolution is the goal of every conversation.
Reaching resolution means that customers are satisfied -- whether you've solved their problems or not. It does not mean that customers always get what they want, or that you're just saying what they want to hear.
Don't avoid difficult conversations or say no without any explanation. This leads to mistrust, and customers will lose confidence in you and your company. But if your customer believes that you've taken the time to listen, consider their problems and given them an honest response, you'll reach resolution far quicker -- whether the issue is solved or not.
4. The ultimate goal is never inbox zero.
Don't look for reasons to close conversations. Rather, look for ways to solve problems. Being able to move quickly through support conversations is key, but moving quickly is not more important than reaching resolution. If an issue needs a lengthy investigation, then that's what it needs. Don't let your desire to have a clean, empty inbox dictate your actions.
5. Patience and calm are key.
When we're hiring new colleagues onto our customer success team, one of the key attributes we look for is an infinite supply of patience. Patience is what will keep your support team ticking over during busy periods.
Sometimes conversations can build up quicker than you can reply. Throw a few irate customers into the mix, some lengthy investigations and a couple of broken features to keep those requests piling up -- and anyone's patience will be tested. But it is exactly then when you need your team to remain calm, collected and as helpful as ever. Your customers do not care how busy you are, so normal service should not be interrupted.
It's a new age.
The days where slow, disconnected and impersonal communication with your customers was accepted as the norm have passed. If you're not considering how you can transition to a more personal approach, you can be sure your competitors are. There is too much to lose by not making these changes.