The last 14 weeks have been a very strange and difficult time for practically every single person living through it – it’ll certainly make history that’s for sure.
Although we aren’t completely out the other side, we are starting to see some normality thankfully. With pubs and salons reopening in the coming days and weeks, it’s really important that we recognise as CX professionals, but more importantly as human beings, that this period of challenge and change has been VERY tough for so many of those ringing us up or sending in email enquiries.
Therefore, I want to share with you 5 ways to provide the best customer service post covid-19.
1) Be empathetic!
The chances are you’re receiving a lot more calls and enquiries of a challenging nature and it’s because everyone’s lives have been affected by this virus. Things that people didn’t get worked up over before, are just another annoyance and problem added to their list, so to them… it’s 100x’s worse than it would have been before they had to home school, became furloughed, lost their jobs… the list goes on. So it’s really important that the way you treat your customers when they call you up, are similar to the way you’d respond to a friend or family member who calls you up for a rant!
It’s the small things that you can do, and be and say to show empathy. Listen, understand and advise. Find a way to be 10x’s more patient and calm than you’d normally be because I promise you, the more empathetic you are, the less frustrated/angry/annoyed they will be when they try to find a solution to their problem.
2) Be considerate of their emotions
84% of your clients’ experience is emotional. They will forget what you say to them, they will even forget what you do for them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Create positive and memorable experiences for everyone you interact with (both customers and colleagues!) whether that’s through zoom, on the phone, or face to face. Feelings and emotions are processed 24x’s faster than logic and fact. Really think about what you’re saying and doing for your customers to make them feel good. There’s never been a better time to show them how much you care!
3) Listen to them…
Remember…the more interested you appear to another person, the more interesting you become. Here at FIT we talk about the 10 Commandments of Active Listening, here they are in a quick summary.
– Stop talking – we cannot listen if we are talking.
– Concentrate – always be prepared to listen and stay focused.
– Acknowledge – prove you are listening but nodding or using encouraging mouth noises or smiling.
– Be objective and keep an open mind – everyone is different and their reactions are different– never assume, ask questions – the more questions you ask the more interesting you become! Confirm and clarify key words to confirm that you have listened and understood.
– Make your questions conversational, don’t interrogate them.
– Be patient – listen to understand rather than to reply! Wait for a 30 second pause before jumping in.
– Make notes but not too many otherwise you’ll end up in pencil making mode.
– Look and listen between the lines. What is not said is just as important to what they have.
– Finally… stop talking, it’s the same as number 1. You have two ears and one mouth to be used in that order and in that proportion.
Actively listen because people love nothing more than to talk about themselves and their problems. The greatest compliment you can give another person is to give them your undivided time and attention to listen to them. These past 14 weeks will have been an incredibly lonely time for a great number of people, so more than ever before, they will need someone to talk to who is ready to listen.
4) Be positive
We talk a lot about the power of positive language and how to deliver news in a more positive way. The smallest of changes can make a massive difference if you change the way you speak. For example, rather than saying ‘sorry about the wait’ – try ‘thank you for your patience’. Instead of saying ‘bear with me’ – say ‘let me just check that for you’. Here at FIT we have a list we like to call the Dirty Dozen, where we share positive alternatives to phrases, I just know you’ll be guilty of using at least one of them regularly. Once you start using some of these, you’ll pick up on ALL the negatives every time you speak to anyone else and you’ll want to correct them. They make for a much more positive experience for your caller I assure you! You can access them here.
As for delivering bad news in a positive way, such as not being able to answer their request or fulfil their order, we use a technique called the Tape Technique. This starts with a bit of good news before you deliver the bad news. For example, rather than starting a sentence saying ‘Unfortunately I can’t find that out for you as I will need to ask my manager’, instead you say ‘So that I can get you the correct information, I will need to speak to my manager and come back to you’. The issue with starting a sentence with a negative, is that we have immediately set the customers expectations to receiving bad news and so, when we finally deliver some good news, it lands onto the negative tape already playing in the customers mind thereby diluting the impact of the good news. So try to say ‘yes’ before you say ‘no’. Try and avoid words like “unfortunately” and “sorry”. You’ll notice a massive switch in your customers response you begin to deliver your message in a more positive way!
5) Be transparent
This last point is more about YOU feeling entitled to protect yourself and the company that you work for. The pandemic isn’t something you’ve “done” to your customers, and they know that. But in the thick of things, they might not take the time to acknowledge that it’s also been happening to you and your team too. So when they call up to make a complaint about your customer service or your live chat function or the speed of response to their emails, it’s not a bad idea to give them a bit of insight to how it’s affected your organisation too, of course you must do this in a non-defensive way but more of a sharing inside knowledge sort of way! If, for example, your call centre hasn’t been operating at peak efficiency in recent weeks, it’s okay to (gently) remind your customers that it might be because your team are also working from a hastily arranged workspace at the dining room table with their children just 15 feet away. This crisis doesn’t give you permission not to follow through on your brand promise and it’s so important that you make the time to get the reviews in from the customers to see how your frontline staff have been handling it. However, if you do feel under attack from a frustrated customer who’s about to give you a terrible review, if you find the right words to say and you’ve shown empathy throughout the call the them there’s a much greater likelihood they’ll find it within themselves to show you some empathy too.
Here at FIT we are able to help you with a number of different areas when it comes to analysing performance, training teams and creating a real PME (that’s a Positive Memorable Experience) for your customers. We have lots of experience with real-world case studies demonstrating how we help you improve key performance metrics, create a powerful customer-focused culture within both frontline and leadership teams and rocket your CX scores at the same time.
If you’d like to arrange a virtual coffee, call me on 01622 761321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
…and in the meantime, Keep FIT!