However, they insist that connecting with customers’ emotions at every touch-point – particularly when it comes to customer support – can greatly help small businesses grow the lifetime value of their customer base, over a period of time.
The result: Lower costs of customer acquisition in the post-pandemic business environment and word-of-mouth publicity, leading to referrals and repeat sales!
So, how do you make your customers feel valued? The answer is fairly easy: the key is to ask what real value means to customers. As strange as it might sound, not everybody perceives value in monetary or extrinsic terms. Depending on the product or service you provide, the value sought by customers can also be psychological. For example, discount vouchers or freebies may not always earn you the loyalty of your customers.
Rather, it is how you make them feel every time they contact your customer support team. For online businesses that do not have a physical presence, this can be critical. You would have encountered numerous situations when customers reported that their deliveries don’t arrive on time or if a refund owed to them was not processed correctly. Before you can offer a discount or complimentary product, the customer’s feelings about the situation will have to be acknowledged and addressed. Customer support agents need to take complete ownership of the relationships they build with each customer.
5 Ways Customer Service Agents Can Build Better Relationships With Customers
In this blog, we will discuss how you can bring the human touch to every customer interaction and build relationships based on genuine connection and warmth with them.
1. Define the experience you want your customers to have
Creating warmth and connection with a customer cannot be left to chance. Depending on the situation, an agent may not know how to communicate in a way that puts the customer at ease. It is important to come to a common understanding of what real rapport sounds like and to identify cues from customers – through their tone or pace of speech – to create a connection with them. It starts with creating a mission statement that defines the ideal experience that you want customers to have with every interaction.
Ask your customer support agents to come up with answers to the basic questions like:
- How can I do more for customers than what they ask me to do?
- How can I find out about their unsaid needs?
- How can I find ways to validate customer decisions and encourage them?
The answers to those questions will help your agents get a better understanding of how they can create rapport with their customers. Reinforce the importance of a customer-centric attitude in terms of how it will make your agents’ jobs more enjoyable and how it contributes to the overall objectives of the business. If your agents come across customers that are irate, train them to identify the reasons for it and re-engage such customers.
Don’t forget to appreciate and reward your agents for being warm and courteous with customers. A little praise can go a long way in creating a customer-centric culture.
2. Focus on feelings and acknowledge them
Warmth and connection result when the customers feel that you understand their concerns. Research by UBM, suggests that 75% of customers did not like repeating themselves when interacting with a customer support agent. Lack of undivided attention can lead to customer frustration and make it harder for the agent to connect with them.
Agents need to practice active listening when a customer describes his or her concerns. This means using verbal nods, paraphrasing what the customer said frequently and expressing empathy for their situation. This can enable agents to quickly address customer concerns and build warmth and a common understanding with them. In turn, this creates a natural connection between both parties.
3. Smile, greet and empathize
A smile can disarm even the most irate customer. It will help build rapport and ensure that the rest of the interaction flows smoothly. Train your agents to have a ‘smiling’ tone of voice, match the customer’s pace of speech and reflect back the same words they use. This can generate an instant feeling of familiarity among customers and make them more receptive to your agents.
Agents should also ask clarifying questions wherever required to get a complete understanding of the customer’s problem and offer solutions that solve them completely. It is important to empathize with their situation and put their needs first.
4. Being honest and proactive
Communicating with honesty helps build trust and respect for your brand in the minds of customers. It sets expectations about what is possible and what is not, enabling a better experience for customers. If a customer responds angrily, your agents should try to analyze the root cause of the anger which may not be apparent right away.
This can be done by reviewing their contact history, any account memos left by previous agents and handling objections or criticism by focusing on the solution and not the problem.
5. Developing better product and process knowledge
The role of training in customer support cannot be understated. From handling the helpdesk software and following procedures to adhering to quality guidelines, your agents need ongoing training which, in turn, will help them be more confident and warm when dealing with customers. Hold regular skill assessment and training sessions to help your agents become experts with respect to product and process.
Building warmth and connection into every customer interaction is a by-product of solving customer problems proactively and making them feel valued. On the business side, this requires online business owners and customer support managers to invest time and effort in instilling customer-centric values in their agents. There is an inevitable cost dimension to the training and development of your agents. Helplama can give you access to professional customer support agents that are extensively trained to meet the highest standards of quality.
For small businesses, this means zero costs of hiring, training, and replacing agents. With our expertise, you can scale your support team without diverting precious resources. Contact us today for more information!