Phrases to Improve Every Customer Support Interaction
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Communication is very hard and specially with customers. It’s made harder when you’re trying to make the ordinary memorable.
Mastering customers’ support requires the experience and wisdom of knowing just what to say and the best way to say it.
While the “good, the bad, and the ugly* of customer service gets most of the press (as with everything else), the majority of support conversations are pretty standard:
customer “I have a problem,” …and …..
support “Let’s fix that problem for you.”
In these cases—day after day—good service becomes great thanks to the pleasantness of the Interaction.
Customers want to know if you care about their issues and you don’t see them as “Complaining Person number #3699.” How you communicate means them almost everything.
Let’s discover a few simple phrases that can be used to improve almost every customer support interaction.
“Happy to Help”
Not every customer will inform you that he is walking away unsatisfied—in fact, very few will. They will just walk away!!
To address this concern, think about “closing” a conversation, in a similar layer to a sales representative.
For the support service, “closing” means ensuring that the customers are satisfied. Ending your emails without a closing message can be risky, as it’s not inviting the customer to share further issues & information. Those are issues & information you really want to hear about to be able to improve your services and interactions to the customers.
It is hard for me to understand why few people might just go away without bringing up additional problems. I suppose they don’t want to be a trouble, or maybe they believe you don’t care. Whatever the reason is, you need to let them understand that you’d be more than happy to hear them out.
That’s why I end 99% of my messages with,
“Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you—I’m very happy to help.”
It’s my way of saying that it would be my pleasure to assist them with any remaining concerns that may have cropped up, or answer any questions they still have. There are no dumb questions in support.
You should avoid: ending conversations so bluntly that the customer feels you are hurrying them out the door. Example: “Are you all set?”
“I Understand How ____ That Must Be”
And ..what’s with the space between?
What you write or say in that blank will really affect the tone of this message. A message that is obviously being used with an upset customer. And I know pretty well that upset customers are driven by Emotion
Use this phrase often and thoughtfully—read the customer’s mood and relate with how he or she feels. Great customer support is defined by genuine empathy.
You should avoid: “That sucks.” Any sort of communication that remotely resembles “sucks to be you” should be avoided like the plague. If the situation is minor and the customer doesn’t have a problem, referencing it as “annoying” is perfectly reasonable, though.
“As Much As I’d Love to Help…”
There comes a time when the only answer is “NO.”
Some requests just aren’t possible. Maybe a customer is treating you like a consulting business. While some “hand-holding” is fine, they’ve got to learn to “walk” someday.
But imagine answering a really enthusiastic request with a blunt “NO” It can hurt.
Stay positive and kind by stating how you’d like to help, but it’s just not possible in this situation.
One of our readers asked about using “positive language” when a customer makes again and again difficult support requests you are not providing. Our suggestion:
What’s a “positive language” way to say: “I don’t have time to help you with that” when a customer asks for unscalable support?
“As much as I’d love to help, your request is beyond what we’re able to do for our customers.
Ifyou have to turn down a service request, you can at least do it nicely.
You should avoid: “To be honest with you…” It’s a phrase that is sometimes used as a defence.
Example “To be honest with you, we don’t foresee that feature being implemented.”
I’m hesitant to use this phrasing because it makes a subtle implication that you’re being honest right now—are there times when you aren’t honest?
“Great Question, I’ll Find That Out for You”
Not knowing the answer to a question is a difficult situation for anyone to be in, especially if you are new in the company.
The biggest mistake to make is turning the situation into “your” situation and apologise about it:
Example “I’m so sorry, I’m new!” or “Sorry, I’ve never been asked that before!”
Instead, keep the focus on what will be done to get the answer: “Great question, let me check our documentation so I can get that answered in details for you.”
Only the truly crazy will mind a small delay makes the customers unhappy.
A smart move also can be to apply the principle of refocusing to other conversations as well. Put the spotlight on what will be done rather than what’s happened.
You should avoid: “If I recall correctly,” or any other variant of “maybe,” “perhaps,” or “I’m pretty sure.” Don’t guess for a customer. Simply state that you’re going to find out the exact answer they need, and do just that.
“Nice to Meet You”
Forget being a customer service phrase.
The robotic response is for many customers a *no go” situation and very annoying.
Let’s take a look at how this might play out. Say a customer initiates an email conversation with you like this:
” Hey guys!
Elena here. Found through your blog. It was the “10 Top Tips for Great Business Marketing with Twitter” article, which I really enjoyed. I had few questions about your product before I consider making the switch from our old solution. So, for integrations….. ”
Don’t answer this as the most companies, boring & fast such as: “Elena, for intergrations we offer…”
Elena certainly wants her answer, but few pleasantries would be welcome too like:
“Hey Elena. Great to __”meet” you. Really appreciate the kind words about our Blog. We really trying our best to stay relevant and helpful.
Happy to answer any question you had on the product. To begin with, our plans to future integrations include….”
Using a friendly tone of voice goes a long way in creating real and long-lasting customer “engagement”.
You should avoid: “Crickets” Silence and rough responses are the deal-breakers here. Our not-so-fictional “Elena” character (many customers have contacted us in a similar fashion) is interested in finding out about the company she is about to invest in. It certainly doesn’t hurt to showcase that there are competent, friendly, and passionate people sitting at the other end of the screen.
“May I Ask Why That Is?”
This is one to keep close, as online critics & complainers are all too common.
You’ll need a way to dig deeper into their criticism without caring about the rough language that they tend to use.
Consider if someone tweeted this about your company:
“The way Company X handles [feature yy] is so f*kin’ stupid. It’s unbelievable.
After this you might actually be curious to know what brought him to that conclusion. Approaching this situation with care is very important, because you don’t want to walk away as the bad guy.
This is where “May I ask why that is?” comes in handy. While it won’t pacify every brutal commenter, it always puts you in the right. Who can fault you for kindly asking for additional feedback?
You should avoid: falling to the critic’s level. People will complain about your product or service no matter how well it’s built, so just make sure your language is level-headed and professional.
The Language of Support
Great communication is a kind of “ART”. Honing it to a devoted edge is a “SCIENCE”.
If five years in online2win Global have taught me anything, it’s that improving your ability to convey information in a concise, friendly style will yield better results than anything else. There are few “hacks” for talking to customers, and nothing scales quite like constantly pleasant communication.
These phrases will go a long way in helping you improve your communication with your customers. They have proven to be consistently helpful for our company team and I hope they are helpful for yours.
Elena Petraki CEO online2win Global
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