08 Mar How To Ensure Your Customers Get The Right Answer
No one is perfect, and that includes your customers. Even with the best intentions, they might not always phrase their questions in the clearest (or nicest) way possible. This can lead to frustration on their part and lost sales for you. Fortunately, there are ways to help them out. In this blog post, we will discuss how you can ensure your customers get the right answer.
The Beauty of the Right Answer
The right answer benefits both your business and your customer. It’s especially good when that answer comes via the first contact. Your customer gets back to their fabulous life, and your company gets to be the hero (with perfect KPIs). Well, in an ideal world that would be the case, but customer issues don’t exist in a perfect world (and perfect KPIs are a myth too).
So how can you ensure that your customers get the right answer? Strap on your tool belt and roll your sleeves up (just a little, it doesn’t have to be messy).
Self-Serve not Soft Serve
For those days when your customers don’t know the answer, a little automated help can go a long way. Self-service options like video tutorials, FAQs and automated chat provide opportunities to give customers the right answer in a flash. Plus, these automated tools require minimal effort from both customers and agents alike.
Make sure to create these resources with your customer in mind, and preferably with useful data on their behaviors and preferences. Keep these self-serve avenues clear, updated and easy to find. This way customers can continue receiving solid answers, and don’t end up frustrated in your agent queue (or worse, sharing their frustrations online).
The Magic Words
It isn’t just please and thank you that are magic words, but asking the right questions with the right words (just look at all of the turmoil caused by bad autocorrects).
The reality is, your customers often don’t know how to effectively communicate their needs. So, what can you do to help customers get the right answer every time? Teach customers the right language to use.
Customer service reps often need certain words or phrases in order to accurately answer a customer’s question. For example, if a customer is asking about account balances, they should use the term “account balance” rather than something more general like “my money.”
Your business can help customers know what wording to use by using that language yourself. Be consistent in product/service language across all company channels and resources, showing customers by example what wording to use.
Making useful suggestions in chat (whether human or AI based), or in how-to guides can help guide customers to use the language that gets them to their answer.
With agent-customer interactions it’s important that agents ask the right questions of customers if their needs aren’t clear. This is especially true if a customer doesn’t even know what they need. They may only know that their device doesn’t work, for example, but they don’t know what’s needed to make it work. Through asking the right questions your agent can discover if the customer needs a new cord, a repair or a whole new device.
This discovery can also highlight nuances to the customer issue, and allow the agent to give the customer additional information that might prevent problems in the future.
Ensure Your Customers Get the Right Answer, with a Little Help from Agents
Teaching your agents how to mirror customers can help them build connections with them more quickly for a smoother exchange. A key to being effective is subtlety. Don’t let mirroring come across as mimicry or mockery.
Quality mirroring comes out of quality active listening. An agent can be taught to pick up cues about whether a customer is in a hurry wanting short, efficient answers, or is looking for a more conversational exchange. The customer speed of speech, tone of voice, length of answers all give insight into the customer’s current state and preference. Automated sentiment analysis tools can assist with this, providing ongoing training.
It’s important that agents don’t reflect the customers emotions though, particularly if they are negative. An agent is able to match a customer’s exchange preference without matching their emotion. In fact, an agent can positively impact a customer’s emotional state by keeping their words and tone positive in a genuine way. Showing empathy can also diffuse a difficult interaction. Customers want to feel heard and that their needs matter.
This is especially important when your customer’s need isn’t clear and an agent has to get to what the problem is by asking questions. The more positive the exchange begins the better the chance of getting to that clarity with less frustration.
The Power of Concrete Language
The clarity of language an agent uses can help your customer get the right answer and feel heard. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 47, Issue 5, February 2021 analyzed the impact of language. Researchers found that when employees speak to customers with concrete language, precise and tangible, it improves how they feel about agents and boosts their purchasing behavior. (example: “Your blue button down shirt, size L, will arrive within 5 business days’ vs “You’ll receive your item soon.”)
Take inspiration from the International Plain Language Federation which states: “A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.”
Whether spoken or written, clarity of language can make or break an interaction.
You want great first contact resolution (FCR) and your customers want great answers. Ensure your customers get the right answer when you:
- Provide solid self-service options
- Make service easy to find
- Use consistent language across your channels
- Teach your agents how to speak to customers
- Use concrete, clear language
- Use software that verifies the customer’s questions have been answered; and
- Break up a multiple question customer query into sections and address each question