I remember my first date. Nervous, sweaty palms and my mind running through 100 possible things to say. Every word that comes out of my mouth is going to count. Every word.
I can’t be too friendly(that’s for the fifth date) but I also can’t be distant and formal. I have to be nice and warm but not to the point of being unctuous. I must resist the temptation to say anything cliched. I’ve got to talk, make an impression. Importantly, I’ve got to talk in a language that she understands. I’ve to translate my thoughts into a language that she gets. I’ve also got to listen, not hear, but listen. I must listen to understand, not listen to simply reply.
Okay, let’s get to reality…
Noticed the above lines slowly turn into customer support advice? The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Customer support interaction is as delicate as a first date and surprisingly, the same set of advice applies to both interactions.
Make a good first impression
First impressions are very important. Make sure you start with a polite greeting and initiate a short friendly chat before jumping right into it. Nothing can be bad for a customer than being greeted with ‘Tell me about your issue’.
As long as you don’t show up in boxers for your first date, you should be fine.
ABP — Always be prepared
We all know how important it is to be prepared. Before your interaction, try to understand more about the customer, their business and importantly their reason for contacting support. Going prepared for the call or sending a thorough email will send out an important signal: you care.
Customers do not want to repeat information that they know you already have.
It’ll also help you pre-empt customer issues delivering the much needed factor in support: ‘The WOW factor’. As long as you don’t over-prepare, you can expect ‘The WOW factor’ on your first date as well.
Try to listen more and talk less. When you talk, echo.
Listening is an art that’s running the risk of becoming extinct. Listening, active listening, will help you understand the customer like never before. Don’t just listen with your ears but with your heart and mind. Try to understand how the customer is feeling at the moment. Predict the action that will make them happy. It’s all in their words — you just have to listen.
When I say echo, I mean talk the same language as your customer. You might call it a ticket but if the customer says they’ve ‘logged a call’, then a call it is. The advantage of listening more at the start is that you pick up your customer vocabulary easily.
When you start talking their language, it gives them a sense of familiarity and they suddenly feel more comfortable. They feel safe.
Listening more on your first date will give you all the information you need to prepare for future dates ;)
No cliched lines please!
There are enough customer support cliches to build a fortress! No one likes being thanked for contacting support, it just doesn’t make sense. When you start your sentence with ‘Please accept my sincere apologies..’, it just makes it worse. ‘Your call is important to us’ — no comments.
Keep it genuine, please. When you apologise to a customer, make it sound professional and crisp. Customers are too busy worrying about their problems to expect an apology from you. They’ll be happier if the problem is solved sooner.
I cannot stress this point enough. Keep throwing romantic cliches in your conversations and you’ll see your second date slowly disappearing right before your eyes.
Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy
Trust me, being open and honest with your customers is easier than you think. They appreciate honesty. It’s not that you’d lie to your customer(or your date) but what seems like an harmless modification to the truth can have repercussions that you can not possibly imagine.
Shockingly similar, aren’t they? Customer Support has a significant advantage over dating. You can have as many customer interactions as you want without getting into trouble :)