Below are some things that work well for us in WooSupport.
Response times matter. This factor alone is one of the greatest predictors of customer satisfaction. If the answers are slow in coming, customers lose patience and become dissatisfied, even if the answer is perfect.
Take the time to get the answer right and don’t rush. Be quick, but not hurried. Double check everything. Don’t completely trust what a customer tells you until you see it for yourself. It’s not that they are deceptive, it’s just that they often don’t know how to explain things.
Always assume the best intent. You never know what is going on with the person on the other side of the screen and you’ll never regret being kind. Even snarky customers can turn into loyal supporters. Be yourself! Be professional of course, but don’t be a robot. Customers want to connect with a human being! That’s why they reached out to you.
Surprising as it may seem, no one really wants to talk to us. They’d rather they didn’t have to. So try to resolve the issue in as few interactions as possible. If the issue can’t be resolved by you, try to help them get going in the right direction so it can be resolved some other way.
This is a simple but effective pattern for replying to customers.
T- VAD: Tone – Validate. Answer. Direct.
Set the tone. Is the tone of your message warm and empathetic? Or cold and stoic? Or is it just neutral and blah? You have control over this, even with grumpy customers, your tone can go a long ways into how the customers receive and act upon your advice.
Restate the customer’s issue in your own words. This saves so many mistakes. If you do make a mistake understanding their issue, customers are so much more forgiving because they feel like you at least tried to understand. This also contributes greatly to customer satisfaction. The lack of it contributes to dissatisfaction.
Beyond validating the issue, it can also help to validate their feelings. Are they frustrated? Are they worried? It can help to acknowledge that.
This is probably your strongest area and the one that takes the most time. What is the actual problem? Can it be replicated? What is causing it? How can it be resolved? Getting this right is at the heart of why customers reach out for help.
- Use simple language. If you use an acronym, explain what it means. Use simple terms and explain how to do things even if it seems simple to you. Not everyone knows how to make a new user, much less how to use FTP.
- One-stop shopping. Try to make your answer one-stop shopping. If the answer is actually in the documentation, copy & paste the relevant part. Don’t make them leave your reply to go find the answer. You lose them when they leave. They may not come back to read the rest of the email or they may just get confused trying to find what you’re pointing them to.
- Backup Links. Even if you copy and paste the instructions, always send a link to the doc too. Teach them to fish and they may be able to help themselves next time.
- In-line Images. If possible, use markdown to embed screenshots and screencasts directly in your emails. This makes it easier for customers to immediately see what you’re describing. A picture can often explain so much better than words can.
Now what? Put yourself into the shoes of the customer. With what you’ve just told them, what are the next steps they need to take? Often customers are overwhelmed with the technical aspect of what you just explained or they are dealing with their own upset customers. Explaining the next path(s) forward simplifies the process for them and helps them to feel more at ease.
What if there are there no next steps? Letting the customer know that is important too.