As more and more customers reach businesses through different channels such as social media, website, email, and telephone, the need to provide correct and accurate information to customers has become more important.
But while this should be an easy task for businesses, many are failing to provide correct information to their customers, even after several interactions that have already taken place. With no eye contact, facial expression or body language, it’s understandable that responding to enquiries and problems by phone or call is extremely more challenging than answering customer questions face to face.
In fact, according to customer experience statistics, customer service reps failed to answer customers questions 50% of the time; and 83% of small and medium-sized businesses often respond with inaccurate or incomplete answers when contacted through email and web forms.
Whether it’s through email or telephone call, it’s extremely important to get your message across to your customers clearly and accurately. To help you out, we’ve listed down in this post some of the tips that will surely help you answer and solve customers’ questions and problems correctly and efficiently.
1. Understand Your Customer’s Perspective
Once a customer contacts you and asks for something, it’s important to understand where they are coming from first. Even if they are asking, for instance, an impossible request, you need to provide satisfying solutions that will benefit both your business and your customers.
This is because there are customers who are in a very dire situation and desperately need your help. At this stage, you can’t tell if they are just playing pranks on your business, so you should assume that their call is sincere and you should help them.
Keep calm and do not let your emotions get the better of you. In many ways, a problem is an opportunity to show your business can put things right.
2. Identify the Problem
Often, it’s the customer themselves who cannot clearly explain their current situation, or simply cannot put their thoughts into words. This often takes place when the question or problem is technical in nature i.e. jargons.
To be able to address their need, you need first find out what and where their problem lies. To help you out, here are few questions to ask when identifying customer problems:
Can you describe exactly the problem you’re having?
When did the problem begin?
Has the problem occurred before?
Once you identified the problem, you can now gauge its severity, and if it already happened to other customers before. Once the customer has answered all these questions, make sure to repeat all their answers to them to show that you completely understand their situation, as well as verify all the facts.
If you haven’t encountered such problem before, or you’re not sure what to respond, apologize briefly and inform them that you will route the call to a specialist who’s the best person who can answer their query. Do this confidently and don’t be afraid to ask the customer to hold on a minute. Customers who desperately need help will appreciate a correct solution, even if it will take a bit longer.
Just make sure that there’s something that will keep them occupied while on hold to avoid them from hanging up. According to statistics, a full 88% of callers surveyed said they wanted to hear product info on hold. About 20% said they’ve purchased additional products based on offers like these.
3. Find the Solution
If the best person that can address your customer’s problem is no other than you, it’s time to use your analytical thinking and find out a solution that will suit your customer’s situation the best.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when planning a solution:
The number of staff it will take to implement the solution.
Staffs who will be involved in the solution implementation.
The time frame of the solution implementation.
Things that the customer should prepare or do for the implementation to happen.
Persons who should be notified about the solution.
If the problem cannot be resolved immediately or will take at least a day for the problem to be resolved, make sure to contact the customer and inform them that you are still working on the solution.
But what if the problem cannot be solved at all? For instance, what if you no longer sell the product you’re your customer is seeking, or you no longer include a specific feature in your products? Should you immediately tell them “We’re sorry, we no longer offer this product anymore” and hang up the line? NO!
If you’re not able to provide the solution or product anymore, refer your customer to others who do it. If you have an effective referral network in place, you will still be able to deliver good customer experience, even if you don’t address their problem in a way they expect you to do.
4. Do Follow Up
There are cases when the proposed solution will not resolve the root of the problem. Let’s say that your customer is having a problem with your product and you’ve suggested restarting the machine. While it might solve the problem, it’s likely the customer will get back at you. And there’s a chance they’ll be disappointed that the solution you gave them did not work.
Before this happens, take the initiative and contact these customers back to follow up on the solution. If you can’t do it over phone or email, you can also make use of survey questionnaires that ask how satisfied they are and if you’ve helped them solve their problem.
In conclusion, always remember that solving customer issues is always part of being a customer-centric business. When you successfully solved your customer issues – even if it doesn’t directly relate to your product or service – the more they’ll be happier with your customer service, thus improving their loyalty towards your brand in a long run.