We talk a lot about customer service these days. What is it, how do we perform it, how do we reach that level of amazing where our customers are bribing us with puppies to onboard them?

You know, the usual.

But when we talk about achieving customer satisfaction through a process that costs us millions of nerves in paperwork, we tend to overcomplicate it.

For all we know, we might be required to keep pulling rabbits out of a hat just to make our customers happy.

No one knows what the priority is today since everything seems to be the priority.

We have so much technology that we’re drowning in it, and we can’t resist (you know we can’t – stop lying to yourself) pulling yet another gimmick just because there’s an app for that.

Well, it’s 2018. Heck, it’ll be 2019 in less than two months. This is the prime time to focus on the right customer service aspects, and learn how to master it.

Once and for all.

1) The goldfish guide to remembering your customer service mission

My whole tirade about technology two seconds ago happened because I know how easy it can be to forget what you’re doing.

Like with marketing and growth hacking, there’s a lot of bullshit out there. Every day brings a new way to satisfy your customers, except they’re not satisfied at all.

So consider your customers to be really low-maintenance golden retrievers.

If you’ve got a good product, they’re already happy.

This is not your target audience? Wow, are you even serious about your business?

And what do we do with happy golden retrievers? We feed them treats. We walk them. We make sure that they’re happy as it is. In customer service lingo, that means:

·         Making sure they can use your product to satisfy their needs

·         Making sure the process is simple

·         Making sure the process is fast

That’s pretty much it. These are the main factors you need to be thinking about. Even though I’m a big fan of using big data to improve your approach to customers, everything you do should be just because you want to make things easier – not flashier.

Flashy things are great, but unless you’re selling diamonds, that's not going to cut it.

So just remember the mission. That’ll take you further than 90% of businesses installing pop-ups but hiding their phone number (and they’re selling to baby boomers).

2) Amazing customer service is organized customer service

Knowing your product, being respectful and solving problems won’t take you very far if you’ve got 200 tickets a day that require you to take 4000 actions.

That’s why you should establish a workflow.

This is especially important if you’re a one-man band, or if you have a small team. Of course you want to do everything, but you can spiral into chaos in two seconds flat if you’re not organized.

When it comes to customer service, spiralling into chaos will cost you success.

Here’s what you can do:

Make a schedule: who does what, and when is it done?

Break up your day into parts, and focus on tickets in regular intervals. Resist the pull of push notifications that are taking you away from doing something that’s going to bring in revenue.

Instead, schedule customer service time, so you can focus all your thinking on that one task.

That’s how you’re going to reach the level where customers are actually happy to be having problems because you’re handling them so well.

Establish a post-resolution action queue

Listen, there’s no use customers having problems if you’re not using them to improve your business.

I’m a big fan of publicizing everything you’re doing right. Unhappy customer? Slap that lovely person who definitely didn’t call you a shitweasel with a discount. Show everyone that’s how you resolve problems.

This also goes for feedback. You can set up an email chain asking the customer for feedback, or offering them something extra for their trouble.

And check in with them later, too. Pay special attention to them because they’ve experienced a problem. If you’re selling a physical product, see how they’re liking it. If you’re selling a service (like we do), ask them how everything’s going.

Be human.

Humans, it turns out, really love humans.

3) Consider self-service customer support

Sometimes customers want to figure it all out themselves and hey, more power to them, more time to us.

Even though it may seem like it goes against what I told you a second ago (humans love humans), self-service has actually been around for a long time.

Self-service customer support starts with marketing, where advertisers make it clear what the customers are getting. You aren’t advertising cabbage if you’re actually selling socks. Maybe you’re even showing people how to wear them.

You're also processing bookings or onboarding online.

While it’s great to have physical customer service and actual people answering emails, you should also offer documentation customers can use themselves.

We all love FAQs. In fact, as a customer, I probably love FAQs more than my car (and I read my car bedtime stories).

Self-service documentation customers can use is becoming a standard feature with tools like Intercom, but it’s time more business started using it.

Here’s what you can do:

·         Set up a chat bot that immediately responds to customer problems with links where they can find out more

·         Add the help documentation page to your front page

·         Add a FAQ section

I know there’s a lot of things you want to put at your landing page, but no, your entire FAQ can’t (and shouldn’t) fit on there.

4) Make it easy to get in touch with actual people

Two months ago, I wanted to get a refund because a major European airline wrecked my suitcases. The incident itself actually wasn’t as stressful as the fact that wherever I looked, there was not a single option to get in touch with humans.

So I did what people usually do: I googled. I googled their CEO, their senior marketing exec, I found all of those emails but not a single one that was actually for customer service.

The whole thing took 2 hours and too many shady message boards to count. Ultimately, a CEO lounging by the pool somewhere in Bali had to read my email full of caps lock screaming.

Why?

Because there was no way to get in touch with people.

Facebook does the same thing. Whenever I run an ad and there’s a problem, there’s no way for me to get in touch with customer support. Their idea of customer support is a forum where the desperate are left to help the desperate.

If you want your customer service to be amazing, offer a way to get in touch with real people. Self-service is great for a certain type of problems, but you’ll need real humans for another.

Pictured: NOT what your customer service should look like

And once you’ve got your 100% human (no Skynet here) customer support up and running, don’t forget to give them enough freedom to act like humans.

This means:

Adjusting the tone

Even if you’re setting up an autoreply, make it sound human.

Don’t say: “Thank you for your inquiry. Your ticket [number] will be processed as soon as possible.

Instead, consider saying: “Thank you for getting in touch with us! We’re working on resolving your problem, and we’ll be in touch soon.

The tone depends on your industry and the type of people you’re talking to. Natural language processing is a big deal, so try to speak like your customers naturally speak.

Give guidelines, and not rules, to your customer service representatives

The best way to muck up your customer service is by making your representatives sound like robots.

If someone called your support number, that means that they don’t want another cookie-cutter response. They want someone to listen to their problem and process it like a human.

This means listening, and this means empathy.

To do that, your customer service representatives should have enough freedom to learn by doing. Of course, they should respond to queries politely, and have all the necessary resources to be able to resolve a problem.

5) Customer service isn’t just about problems

I spent the majority of this post talking about problems because that’s when customer service really shows its true colors.

However, having an amazing customer service means providing it consistently.

Don’t twiddle your thumbs until your customers are experiencing a problem. Show them you’re always there if they need help.

But don’t spam them, either. We already said 10 emails a day aren’t a good customer retention tactic, and the same goes for customer support.  

Start providing amazing customer service from the onboarding stage. Direct customers to your self-service documentation and your support reps.

Ask customers how you can help in their case. No two customers are alike, so show interest and personalize your approach.

For example, maybe a customer wants your email automation software for staying in touch with her huge group of friends that frequently exchange recipes and knitting patterns. Maybe they’ve been painting the town red since the 1950s and now they actually want to paint the town red. Maybe you’re supporting a group of guerrilla painter old ladies.  

I don’t know. But you should know.

And once you know, you can provide them with tips and tricks to make the most out of your service.

Amazing customer service really isn’t all that hard. Make things simple, fast, and nice.

And of course, add cookies to your budget.