Forcing people to wait is a huge customer service mistake that happens all too often.
Everyone hates waiting. It drives us crazy.
The other day, I called Pottery Barn with a question and was put on hold for 45 minutes. Seriously — it was stunning. Fortunately, I had a backlog of emails to help pass the time.
At ThirdLove, we have a 24-hour policy for anyone that contacts us.
But honestly, there have been times when that didn’t happen. Customers had a negative experience, and it literally kept me up at night.
That’s because there’s nothing more important to a business than customers.
And our customer service team works hard to meet expectations for the timeliness and quality of response. This attitude is probably why our Customer Service Satisfaction Score (CSSAT) averaged 97% in 2017 and 95% in 2016.
But we haven’t always been this successful.
It takes a lot of sweat and tears to build a reliable, knowledgeable customer support team with a great satisfaction score.
So, here’s how to start earning those numbers:
I always tell our team, “If we’re doing our job right, people chatting with us online should feel like they’re shopping alongside their best friend, who happens to be really knowledgeable about bras.”
A lot of people think customer service is about something very basic, like return labels or shipping questions.
That’s not true.
Your website should allow your customers to answer those questions and get the basic information they need.
Great customer service is about building relationships with customers.
And it isn’t just about chatting with them, it’s about making sure they get exactly what they need.
Backcountry has this aspect of customer service down pat.
Their “Gearheads” are incredibly knowledgeable about all of the company’s different products. They cover a huge range of gear — cycling, camping, backpacking — but they’re still able to help customers get the specific information on really technical questions.
And they maintain a relationship aspect, too. Your Gearhead will call you after a purchase to see how it’s worked out or at the beginning of a season to see if there’s something specific you’re after.
If you want great customer service, your people have to know everything about the product.
At ThirdLove, I want our stylists to be the best bra fitters you’ve ever met. Any issues you have, they can identify and find a solution. They can explain what you might want to try — and why.
Because when your team doesn’t know the answer to a question, customers end up on hold for 45 minutes.
One thing our stylists never do?
Use emojis or a lot of exclamation points. We try to be very clear with our language to keep communication clear and simple.
The goal is to always stay on brand in the way you speak as a company and interact with your customers. Use similar language in an email and on your product pages. Train your customer service team to use that language so the experience feels very cohesive.
Make it a seamless experience, whether you’re talking to a customer over the phone, chatting online, or emailing back and forth.
This is important because customers think of interactions as the brand itself. And your customer service team is the front line representing the brand.
It takes well over a month to onboard a new Fit Stylist at ThirdLove.
They have to learn everything from systems and processes, to the fit and sizing of our products. There are a lot of complex training programs we put together. And they constantly evolve to get even better.
That’s no accident.
Training keeps everyone on the same page. When it fails, customer service suffers.
About a year ago, we decided to outsource much of our customer service team. We thought we could make it work. But after a few months of using an outsourced vendor, we had to shut it down and build our customer service teams close to home.
No amount of training could make the outsourced team what we needed it to be. It couldn’t embody our brand.
That experience cost us plenty of sleepless night and a lot of money, but we learned from it. And it ended up making our customer service experience even stronger in the end.
Rockstar customer service comes down to having knowledgeable people who can communicate clearly with customers and develop personal relationships with them. It isn’t just shipping labels and returns.
It’s about creating a great experience and finding customers exactly what they need, when they need it. Without excessive waiting.