Click on the website of any retailer in any industry, and it probably will not take you long to find something about quality customer service being one of its corporate priorities. Providing the best customer service is a key component to any business because beating your competitors on price is only half the battle. If customers do not have a good shopping experience, they will take their business elsewhere.
The same concept applies to software as a service (SaaS) companies. Poor customer interaction is the first step on the road to lost sales. However, the challenge is that expectations and standards are quite different. SaaS operates 24 hours a day – support teams likely do not. If a customer asks a question at 10 in the morning they’ll likely have an answer within minutes. However, ask the same question at 10 at night, and the response might have to wait until morning. Even if a response comes at 6 AM, that is a full eight hours that the customer had to wait, which can be incredibly frustrating for some customers. The question is, “how do you deliver quality customer service when it can be called upon 24/7?”
Service is Part of the Deal: No matter how extensive the support platform is for a product, the truth of the matter is that support needs to be a part of the software’s package. If a customer has questions and cannot use the software like she is expecting to, what reason does she have to continue using it if those questions never get answered? In any business, the cost to retain a customer is going to be lower than the cost to add a new customer, so current customer satisfaction is a big deal. At the end of the day, you can throw buckets of water into the bathtub trying to fill it up, but if there are holes in the bottom where you are losing customers, you will have a much harder time reaching your goals.
Transparency: The first key concept of quality customer service is to be transparent about what you can deliver. That message after someone submits a form saying someone will contact him within 24 hours is key because it lets the customer know what he should expect. The second key piece is actually following through on the promise. If you cannot do something as simple as respond to a question in the time frame you provided, how can the customer trust you to deliver a quality product?
Provide Options: One of my favorite features that I have seen is the support option that allows a customer to choose how she gets the response. She can opt for a text message, phone call, or e-mail reply. Giving the customer this variety helps her better meet her needs on getting a response. Some people prefer to hear things, as they are auditory listeners. Other people may not have smart phones but want the answer to their questions as soon as possible, making text messages the best option. Pushing out customer support through a variety of channels can be a big help in making the response feel more personalized, too.
Quality Interaction: In a store setting, body language is everything. Helping someone face to face relies on non-verbal communication, while responding to SaaS interactions is likely via e-mail or over the phone. E-mail is the easier of the two because you can be very selective about word choice and have time to think things over if a difficult question gets asked. Be sure to take the time to get the answer right, because that will not always be the case. The other major way to provide customer support is over the phone, which can be very tricky. Tone is everything, which can be difficult if a customer is having difficulty understanding instructions. Just remember, if you are getting frustrated, the customer is likely feeling the same way. Keeping an upbeat attitude and tone to your voice can be a great way to help alleviate the customer’s frustration in any situation.
The important thing to keep in mind with every interaction you have with a customer is that this may be the only interaction he has with you. In most situations, 99% is a great accuracy rate. However, that 1% for you could have been 100% of the experience for the customer. A negative interaction could turn him away from your product or business forever. That is why it is important to strive for perfection on every single customer interaction, and never settle for just good enough.
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