Customer service is often thought of as a dead-pan job to do. Some might even feel like it has nothing in common with real corporate culture and mutual endeavors. Well, it’s pretty much a cliché.
Those people on the other end of the line or screen struggle to go the extra mile for their clients day by day. It may not be so obvious, though support agents are empowered to create that smooth experience. Actually, empowering your staff to deal with any client should be a number one priority (if you want a team of customer service heroes, of course ?).
Suggesting an idea of a shared mind to your coworkers may pay off in many ways. The first thoughts that cross my mind are better engagement, satisfied clients, and enhanced brand awareness. It’s all about customer service philosophy, ladies and gentlemen. Shall we start?
What is a customer service philosophy?
Among different definitions of philosophy, Merriam-Webster dictionary offers this one, too: the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group. That is what service philosophy actually is.
It’s your team’s special way of thinking and how your business wants to be perceived by them. Plus, it’s the strategy you developed together as a unit to handle customer issues driven by corporate beliefs and values.
By the way, your values mean nothing if the team doesn’t believe and practice them. No matter if you scream from the rooftops about your super open and customer service oriented company. Actions speak louder than words.
The philosophy of customer service isn’t something you can shape overnight and add as icing on the cake. In fact, it’s a way of thinking that comes from the core of your organization. And to succeed in this endeavor, you should reason out your every step. This is what we’re going to elaborate on next.
7 steps to create an uplifting customer service philosophy
What is the basis of a successful team work? Trust. If you want your staff to feel empowered, you should give them credit. As tempting as it is to control everything that’s going on in your company, this is a dead-end road. You’d better take the following steps to shape a good customer service philosophy:
Step 1. Explore your buyer personas
Who are those people in your client base? What are their preferences? And most importantly, what are their needs? If you managed to answer these questions, congratulations! You know everything about your buyer personas.
After you explore the information, see if you can cater to the needs of your customers according to three aspects:
- Preferred channel: if clients expect multichannel customer service, your platform should have a broad spectrum of options. For instance, HelpCrunch comprises everything from live chat and email to helpdesk to a self-service knowledge base. Isn’t it what any customer would wish for?
- Expectations: given that clients are now more demanding than ever, they expect such things as instant answers, personalized experiences, or contactless options. Make sure you provide all these things so that you meet the clients’ expectations to the best extent possible.
- Customer service preferences: these could vary from industry to industry. For instance, if you work with a B2C sector, interactions may have a rather informal nature. But if you’re engaged with B2B communications, build your dialogues more seriously (add a pinch of humor though, it won’t go amiss ?).
Step 2. Provide your team with the right tools
Your customer service reps won’t feel empowered unless they have all the right tools to act fast and vigorously. The end goal here is to be quicker and more helpful and for this customer service reps should be able to escalate any issue to responsible departments as fast as possible, get back to clients via any channel they prefer, and resolve issues on the fly.
Let me use HelpCrunch, an all-in-one customer communication tool, as an example here. From the user’s perspective, it’s just a live chat window integrated with a website. They can leave their messages and communicate with a support team in real time.
From the customer service reps’ perspective, HelpCrunch can be truly inspiring in terms of functionality and user experience:
- Robust messenger. Using straightforward tools instead of old-school overloaded software is truly empowering. Would you rather use WhatsApp or any other chat room from the 2000s to communicate with your friends? That’s what I’m talking about. A comfortable live chat tool is half the battle.
- Real-time customer data. HelpCrunch collects and tracks all necessary custom data and shows it in an agent chat. Your customer service reps can see what language a client speaks, where they are from, what pages they’ve just visited, what subscription they have, etc. This eliminates tons of redundant questions and helps your team resolve issues in the nick of time.
- Private notes. Leave private chat notes right in a chat window. If there’s a need to pass an issue to other teammates or departments, all your notes together with the full chat history will stay untouched.
- Customer satisfaction tracking. The most empowering thing in the world is feeling that your work and efforts are truly appreciated and bring results. HelpCrunch helps the service team track customer satisfaction metrics and see how your end-users feel about their experience with your company.
- Integrated knowledge base. Service agents can send articles to answer customer questions right from the chat. Besides, clients can easily find what they are looking for without waiting for a customer support rep to reply: the knowledge base is integrated into the chat widget.
- Shared inbox. HelpCrunch dashboard is not overloaded with redundant stuff. It’s straightforward and easy to start using it right away. Plus, no need to switch between some other workspace: everything happens under one unified helpdesk. So, your customer service team can sigh with relief.
Step 3. Be proactive
Let’s picture a battle. In the red corner, there is a brand with a customer service philosophy that is based on cooling the heels, waiting for a client to come first, and just minding its own business.
In the blue corner, we have a team of dedicated support pros who show their initiative, know when to reach out to a person, and what piece of advice to give. Fight! ✊
Who is the winner? The team from the blue corner! They have a proactive approach and take advantage of it. One of the surefire ways to implement it in your workflow is setting up special messages and sending them via live chat.
For instance, you know that you get most of the traffic from your website’s pricing page. Any time a visitor navigates it, a proactive message will pop up saying you are always here should they have any questions. As a result, you engage more leads, upsell to existing customers, and even gather valuable feedback.
Step 4. Train your customer service staff
Every time you acquire new software or technology for your team, make sure they know how to use it. It’s not enough to just have it.
I can recall too many cases when I’ve been using some tool and discovered some of its core features only after a few months of usage. Imagine how much time is wasted. That’s why a small demo and regular training are necessary to empower your customer service reps as much as possible.
But tools and demos are only the tip of the iceberg. People feel their most confident only when they are well trained in all aspects of their work.
Don’t be afraid to offer your employees all kinds of other professional and personal training programs. If they have an opportunity to grow and evolve within their own company, they’ll never have to leave.
At AmeriCorps, they have this 80/20 rule requiring their employees to spend 20% of their time on personal and professional development. And the company is trying to deliver on the promise and give people all the necessary means and programs for this.
Well, in more real life, you don’t have to create something huge and epic, but aiding your customer service warriors with professional conferences and meetups can be a great start to a killer customer service philosophy.
Step 5. Show a personal touch
Having some personality in your work is always a good idea. No one likes robotic and impersonal customer support. 68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% claimed a rep’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key. So, until artificial intelligence replaces us all, we can use the benefits of human customer service to its fullest.
Each member of your team can bring some part of their personality to the table. Don’t be afraid to let people be themselves and depart from set rules from time to time.
We at HelpCrunch pride ourselves on our friendly relationships with all of our clients. One of the companies we wrote a case study about confirmed that our customer success agents and their personalities were one of the determining factors in HelpCrunch’s favor.
If I had to put our own customer service philosophy in just one word, I’d say it’s togetherness. Working for such software leaves its stamp on all of us – from marketing to devs and sales.
If a client faces an issue, our customer success heroes Konstantine and Artem immediately raise it in a corresponding Slack channel, where every available member of the team immediately tries to help in a way. We always try to meet the wishes of our users as fast as possible.
Step 6. Inform about news and updates
There’s nothing more disempowering than being in the dark about what’s going on in your company. Sure, it can be difficult to keep every single member informed about every single event – especially for bigger teams and companies. But this is a must.
If you add some product improvements or change something in your company’s policy, you can be sure your clients will immediately notice it. And they’ll go to your support team with questions and concerns.
Now, imagine your team is not aware of any changes you make. Think of how helpless they will feel. That’s why it’s crucial to keep staff informed about every tiny detail. There are various ways to do that, like:
- Regular internal company newsletters
- Real-time channel in your communication tool
- Daily meetups
We at HelpCrunch have this channel in Slack called #features where our tech team informs everybody about all the new updates after each release. This way every member of our team stays enlightened.
Plus, we have daily meetings where everyone tells the rest of the team about the work we’ve done in the past day. So, everyone knows what’s going on.
When the business world was shaken with this huge stock market chaos, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz immediately sent an internal memo to all of their 19,000 workers saying:
Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.
When the CEO of a huge company takes his time to talk openly to his employees, it makes a difference. I’m pretty sure we can do this, too.
Step 7. Stay flexible
What would you do if someone bought a one-year subscription to your product but asked for a refund a week later? Would you give them a refund or would you argue with them?
If you give a refund, you’ll lose money but keep some kind of gratitude and loyalty. If you refuse, you’ll keep your money. But in exchange, you’ll receive tons of negative reviews and can be sure this particular client will never come back.
Staying open and flexible is one of the main characteristics of high-quality customer support. You should be open to criticism and negative remarks because they can even be a positive thing for your company.
If you’re a software product company, you should pay particular attention to feature requests. Your end-users are the best people to ask when it comes to product improvement. They know all the pitfalls, so it’s important to embrace their requests.
But to be flexible, you need to give your customer service reps the autonomy to make a final call. If every issue needs to be passed from one department to another in order to make a decision, this only means your customer reps are stripped of powers. And this will inevitably influence how your customers perceive your customer service.
4 aspirational customer service philosophy examples
1. Amazon’s customer centricity
Amazon’s customer service philosophy is that Jeff Bezos has this requirement that every single manager is trained in the company’s call-centers before anything else. He thinks it’s the most effective way to understand the needs of real customers.
The e-commerce behemoth also prides itself on its five-star return policy. If your package is lost in the mail, no worries, you’ll get a replacement. And I don’t think that Amazon’s reps consult with the CEO on each of these replacements – they’re empowered to meet their customers halfway and help them with anything they need.
2. Apple’s encrypted philosophy
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” Steve Jobs
How could I NOT mention Apple’s philosophy of service? The thing is that it’s a golden standard of how you should get personal with your clients. All the trick lies in their acronym – A.P.P.L.E:
A – Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome
P – Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
P – Present a solution for the customer to take home today
L – Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
E – End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return
Interesting, isn’t it? ? I just came up with an idea to encrypt HelpCrunch’s customer service philosophy in our company’s title. So, what we have here is (try to do the same for your brand):
H – Help customers achieve their sought-after goals
E – Engage with every customer in an upbeat and prominent manner
L – Let customers know we care about them day by day
P – Provide timely and professional support
C – Create smooth experiences during the whole client lifecycle
R – Ruin stereotypes about lame customer service
U – Unite every team member for the client’s sake and success
N – Nail customer self-service with the profound knowledge base
C – Communicate an agile approach
H – Hold modern technologies together and improve them regularly
3. Buffer’s happiness team
Buffer is quite famous for the whole customer support system they’ve developed at their company. First of all, they call themselves a Happiness team, which is divided into three departments: happiness heroes, weekend warriors, and community champions.
Community champions are Buffer’s most autonomous members. Their main objective is to find proactive ways to work with clients. How cool is that? The company’s having this whole department looking for new ways to pleasantly surprise people who contact their customer support. That is what I call a dedicated customer service philosophy.
4. Virgin’s staff focus
Virgin Group is a British multinational venture capital company that offers products and services in many industries. Sir Richard Branson, its founder, places a premium on the company’s staff. That is, Virgin aims at delivering flawless experiences to both its employees and clients.
They describe their customer service philosophy with certain values:
And here is what the CEO says about these values:
…if you can put staff first, your customer second, and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and yourself are happy.Richard Branson
Say what you will, I got inspired by this customer service philosophy guide. Here is what I think: the main recipe is staying consistent at all times. Your core ideas and values should be clearly rendered and implemented from top to bottom.
The employees should know exactly what they’re doing and why. Only with a sense of significance they can feel truly empowered.
To help your team shoot for the stars and provide the greatest support, arm them with the software that will rock their workflow. Don’t take my word for it: create a free account with HelpCrunch to see what I mean.