What is Good Customer Service?

Illustration of a woman giving a review

Every company says they provide the best customer service, but what is good customer service? What does customer service mean to you? More importantly, what does it mean to your customers?

Tech company IT departments walk a thin line; they handle both people and machines.

You know your products/services are right for your consumers.

You know your elegantly-crafted solutions are perfect for your customer base.

All you need is empathic, helpful, and delightful customer service people to bridge the gap between your products and your customers.

Ultimately, all tech products have their limitations. All customers eventually need support to navigate user interfaces, deal with glitches, and find workarounds.

You trust your users will get good customer service from your staff, no matter how exasperated they might become.

Learn what tech company customer service people deal with every day, how they stay patient in the face of frustration, and what these remarkably resilient people can teach your support teams.

A Brief History of IT Customer Service

We humans have been interfacing with technology since someone first discovered the secret of fire. IT professionals have been face-palming about support calls ever since the first fire user didn’t read the instructions:

IT Support: How can I help you today?

User: Fire hot. Fire burn hand!

IT Support: I’m sorry to hear that. Did you read the instructions we painted on the cave wall?

User: Yes. It say, “Fire hot. Don’t touch.” But meat fall in fire if not hold with hand. Fire hot. Fix now!

IT Support: I see. Please refer to step two of the instructions which refers to our newest hardware option, PointyStick 1.0. This cave painting clearly shows a fire user holding their meat over a fire with a PointyStick.

User: I try again. Ow! Fire burn hand. Fix Now!

IT Support: Did you read step three about selecting a stick of an appropriate length?

User: No. Instructions for nerds. Why not make fire cold?

IT Support: An interesting suggestion. However, if the fire were cooler, you couldn’t cook your food. Let me assist you in locating a suitable PointyStick.

User: You not help. Me want talk your manager.

Sound familiar?

If not, take a moment and take a peek behind the scenes at the hilariously frustrating world of IT support. I kid you not; the story about the person who complained about their computer not working after they kicked it in frustration will have you in tears.

As a CEO/Manager/Team Lead, you trust your IT staff to demonstrate excellent customer service skills.

Regardless of your users’ tech skills (i.e., how to turn it on), they deserve patience, respect, and solid solutions.

5 Quick Tips for Good Customer Service

IT Support: Did you turn it off and back on again?

User: Me stomp out fire. Light new fire. Fire still hot. Fix Now!

IT Support: [Face-Palm] I understand your concern…

No one has to follow the rules of business etiquette more closely than tech company customer service teams.

Customer service representatives stay calm and show customers your company cares, no matter what. Even when faced with frustrating and disrespectful clients, your team provides professional support with a (virtual) smile. Right?

Train your team to handle customers delicately and decisively with these practical techniques from the University of Illinois:

  1. Make people feel welcome by acknowledging their wait in your chat queue/phone tree. Listen actively and look for signs of cultural confusion, low computer literacy, and special needs.
  2. If you detect a cultural difference between you and the client, take care to confirm their stated needs. Ask clarifying questions and explain any industry-specific terms you use.
  3. When determining the customer’s needs, let them express everything they have to say before offering a solution. Restate their questions with statements like, “Just to confirm, it seems like you’re having a problem with…” Ask open-ended questions in simple language, not IT slang.
  4. Address the person’s needs by introducing them into your world. For example, use a teachable moment to say something like, “It looks like you’re having a problem with what we call a network interface.”
  5. No matter how impatient and/or disrespectful a client may seem, remember how you felt the last time a tech device didn’t meet your expectations. You aren’t responsible for their issues, just to help them find solutions. Take the time to ask if the user needs assistance with anything else and end the interaction politely, no matter how difficult they may seem.

Present Solutions in the Right Order

It turns out science has finally answered the timeless question, “What do you want first – the good news or the bad news?” However, the answer is nuanced; you need to tailor your approach to the situation.

A research team from the University of California, Riverside examined the results of both scenarios. They found people are happier when presented with the bad news first but more likely to act when they get the good news first:

IT Support: I’ve identified the problem. Your PointyStick appears to be broken. However, the good news is you’ll get a chance to practice your sharpening skills.

User: Good. Me like make things sharp.

– – – – –

IT Support: I’ve identified the problem. The good news is, you’ll get a chance to practice your sharpening skills. Your PointyStick appears to be broken.

User: Broken? Fix Now!

IT Support: If you sign up now, you can be among the first to try PointyStick 2.0. This new, break-resistant device is 30% thicker than PointyStick 1.0…

If you want customers to purchase updates or accessories, consider telling them the good news first. However, in most cases, you simply want them to leave the interaction in the best possible mood.

Never Underestimate the Value of Happy Customers

Good customer service creates happy customers, one of the greatest assets your company can have.

On the other hand, angry customer service clients can damage your corporate reputation – and your bottom line.

Over four-fifths of the people who stop doing business with companies do so after poor customer service encounters.

Your customer service team must engage with and satisfy every customer. Happy customers can motivate massive revenue surges.

It’s up to 14 times easier to sell to raving fans than new potential customers. Better yet, happy customers tell an average of 9 people about their positive experiences with your brand.

Empathy: The Soul of Good Customer Service

Yes, speed matters. Tech company customer service people know the best way to eliminate user frustration – solve their problem as fast as possible. However, quick interactions are not as powerful as engaging ones.

In a Gallup poll, surveyors found bank customers who received fast service were 6 times as likely as others to feel emotionally engaged with the brand. However, those customers who felt bank tellers were friendly and willing to help were 9 times more engaged than the control group in this study.

Take Action for Users

Tech customer service people know the value of performing certain tasks for the client.

Sure, you can link someone to a set of installation instructions, but doing it yourself can turn a frustrated person into a raving fan.

It may take a few extra minutes, but filling in that form, setting up that dashboard, or adding on that accessory could result in a big reputation (and word-of-mouth) boost for your company:

IT Support: The PointyStick 1.0 comes with an attractive and useful accessory, the pigeon feather. Attach it to your stick between the fire and your hand. If you see the feather burning, pull back at once. Here, let me tie it on for you…

User: Thank you. You nice person. Me like PointyStick.

Nothing creates customer loyalty like reduced effort.

In fact, researchers now use a Customer Effort Score (on a 1-5 scale) to calculate the amount of hassle involved in consumer/corporate interactions.

Exceed your customers’ expectations and give them a helping hand – it can make all the difference.

Hiring Customer Service People

When you’re assembling (or expanding) a customer service team, look for certain essential personality traits:

  • Patience – Tech customer service people know so much about their products, but keep it simple with newbies. Your help desk people must kindly teach and guide users with little or no tech savvy.
  • Empathy – Sympathetic support staff let people know it’s okay to feel frustrated and impatient while quickly addressing their problems. A little emotional connection goes a long way.
  • Diplomacy – Customer service people must end interactions with lonely, talkative customers without offending them. Train your staff to set boundaries with users in kind, diplomatic language.
  • Flexibility – Every client is different. Some will be angry. Some will be sweet and engaging. Some will be impatient. Some want lots of time and attention. Teach your customer service teams to handle all personality types while providing the same excellent level of service.
  • Communication Skills – The people who represent your company must use clear and precise language. Make sure your new hires speak directly, act professionally, and avoid confusing terminology.
  • Willingness to Learn – We never stop improving our people skills. Hire people with a genuine attitude of eagerness – not just to work for you, but to learn.
  • Positivity – Happy customers provide unrivaled marketing and outreach. Don’t just find people to solve your customer’s problems. Get the best employees possible – professionals with excellent skills and excellent attitudes.
  • Work Ethic – Hire people who view work as a privilege and an opportunity to grow. Develop a keen sense for entitlement and avoid hiring “run out the door at 5pm” employees.
  • Skill and Knowledge – No matter how engaging and personable, your support staff must have top-level understandings of your industry and products/services. Hire folks who enjoy your niche and stay abreast of relevant trends.
  • Humility – Your support staff must be skilled and confident, but unafraid to ask questions. Everyone needs to know their limits; the people on the front lines of your organization need to be expert in this regard.
  • Thick Skin – The quintessential quality of successful customer service workers is emotional resilience. No matter what the public throws their way (anger, impatience, etc.), the best support people can separate their emotions from those of their customers.

Tech Company Customer Service Team Morale

Happiness is contagious. When your tech support staff shares a winning attitude with your customers, even the most frustrating problems can seem solvable.

Keep your workers happy with perks like 9/80 work shifts. You can easily set up and track these incentives with Toggl’s free and premium time-tracking software.

  • Most of all, pay attention to your customer service people.
  • Thank them for handling difficult customers with poise and grace.
  • Reward them for going above-and-beyond the call of duty.
  • Let them know you believe in them and value their work.

After all, the only post-purchase interactions your customers have with your company may be with your support staff!

The Bottom Line

Your customers need support, especially at key moments in your sales funnel.

For example, over four-fifths of online shoppers expect help within five minutes. If not, they’ll leave the site and make their purchases elsewhere.

In today’s information-rich marketplace, customers expect quick answers and simple solutions. Almost half of all users will click away from online transactions if they can’t find quick answers to their questions.

A little human interaction can turn a shopper into a brand-loyal consumer. Sure, the information a user needs might exist somewhere on your site. Sure, they could read the instructions (or a cave wall).

But, don’t let that stop you from connecting with your customers. Sometimes, we all just need a little help and personal attention.

Don’t miss out on potential sales conversions who simply need friendly interactions and some key information. Help your support teams develop the resilience and professionalism of tech company customer service people.

By creating happy, return customers who spread your brand message, you can dramatically improve your revenues!

September 19, 2017