As your support team grows, it can be tempting to start splitting out into different specialized groups. Team Billing handles all the billing related questions. Team Success only handles onboarding new customers. But is that something you should be doing? And even if your team is smaller, should you specialize in a specific area of your product?
#99 – A Third Rapid Fire Episode!
It’s back! It’s a special rapid fire episode. We’re taking listener questions and answering them as quick and concise as we can. These are questions that don’t really need a whole show for them. Sit back and listen as we tackle as many of them as we can.
How Important Are Job Titles?
Fantastic points from Mathew Patterson on the last episode:
Where would you rank the importance of a job title on that list? Job titles and team names matter, undoubtedly. It can be that extra little recognition of value and culture. They just matter so much less than everything else. If you’re in support and your company is doing all those other things up there, then you won’t care what your title is. You will know deeply how important you are and how important your work is.
I think job titles get too much attention. When you start seeing parodies like this one from Vooza, you know you’ve gone overboard with them.
Are they important? They can be.
Are they at the top of the list of what matters in your support experience? No.
Don’t get wrapped up in what title to give your team members. Instead, focus on making your customer experience the best that you can. With a solid customer experience, you can afford to put the final touches on it like unique titles.
Don’t Be a Robot – Create Conversations
The tour guide wipes his brow. And wonders how to respond.
A chubby teenager, my eyelashes batted a few times. Blank stares colored the faces of everyone.
What just happened?
San Antonio. A tour of the Alamo. You’ll never guess the question this guy asked.
Think. When was last meaningful conversation you had? Was it with a friend? Or a loved one?
How did the conversation end? You probably didn’t say the following:
- Please let me know if you have any questions.
- If you have any other problems, just let me know.
- If there is anything else you need, please let me know.
Yet this is how tons of interactions with customers end. It’s like a robot is on the other end.
It’s Not Black and White
The only purpose of ‘customer service’ is to change feelings. Not the facts, but the way your customer feels.
Seth Godin, The only purpose of customer service
Customer support is not black and white. It’s full of colors. Fuzzy. Emotional. It’s about feelings.
So how do these sentences make you feel?
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Are you a robot? Isn’t that your job? Do you not want to talk anymore?
If you have any other problems, just let me know.
Are you hinting there will be more problems? Will there be other problems? You just solved the problem, now there’s going to be more?
If there is anything else you need, please let me know.
Should I need something else? Am I going to need something else soon? Are you saying that I’m needy?
All of these stock or canned responses are great ways to end a support ticket. It’s perfect to cross it off your list. Shave some seconds or minutes off your response time.
This is seeing everything in black and white.
What If You Created a Conversation Instead?
That’s seeing in color. Conversations are how you learn, share, listen, and care.
Conversations are how you communicate.
You’re not a ninja. A guru. Or a rockstar. You’re human. And so are your customers.
You’re not some robot that closes tickets. Your customers are people. Not numbers.
You can’t treat them all the same. Because people are different. What make sense for one customer, will confuse another.
That’s why you should ask questions instead of using stock sentences.
Look at the difference. How does it make you feel?
Instead of please let me know if you have any questions, try –
Does this help you?
Rather than if you have any other problems, just let me know, what if you asked –
Did that answer your question? And does it make sense?
Don’t say if there is anything else you need, please let me know, ask –
Anything else that I can help with today?
These are simple questions. A yes or no answer will do. It makes the customer feel that you’re listening and are there for them. That you want help.
Here’s an Example
A conversation between Michael, from Netflix, and Norm, the customer, where both act as if they’re in a Star Trek episode.
Captain Mike and Lieutenant Norm go back and forth for about 10 minutes. Captain Mike resolves the issue, but he doesn’t end the conversation with a stock sentence.
That’s how you end a conversation. The customer wants to keep talking to you.
Those feelings last. It’s what keeps customers coming back. And what makes them tell their friends about you.
Why did they build the Alamo in the middle of the city?
That’s what the young man asked. The tour guide explained, with hesitation that, the city was built around the Alamo.
Just like your business is built around your customers.
So stop the please let us know if you have any questions.
Don’t be a robot. Create conversations.
Do you create conversations with your customers? What questions do you ask? Let me know on @cjgallo.
Exclamations and Emoticons, Oh My! :)
In our digital age, people are utilizing email, live chats and social platforms daily to communicate. When chatting with friends’ online emotions/tone of a message can get lost in translation, leaving it up for interpretation. In an attempt to remedy this emoticons and exclamations points are used; one may use an emoticon as a form of digital expression. This is the next best thing to help merge the barrier for the lack of facial expressions or voice fluctuations. I’m sure you have received emoticons from friends/family or have sent them yourself.
But are they appropriate?
Let’s talk about if emoticons and exclamations are appropriate in business correspondence In my opinion, as a consumer if I am paying my money for a service or anything for that matter, I want some level of good customer service. Even though, sadly that is not always the case.
I think about the many times I have walked into a business, my mind filled with a long to-do list, and a focused look across my face. I walk up to the counter with an expectation to do my transaction with an emotionless rep, and then continue about the rest of my day.
Maybe you have had a similar experience? What happens when you walk up to the counter to find a smiling rep that not only genuinely ask you about your day, but goes above and beyond to ensure you have a good experience. Personally, I feel great when this happens; I leave the business with a smile on my face and a little extra pep in my step.
How would a business create this same feeling over social media? Yes, there are a few factors that limit the type of service that could be provided. I think it’s safe to say that just because something is different, it doesn’t make it bad.
I’m a visual learner, so I’ve included a few tweets as examples of sending good vibes to customers. The tweet from Sunglass Hut is very kind and appreciative. The one from Levi’s is informative and straight to the point.
Go one step farther
Take a look at the next two tweets below. Pocket’s approach has a very conversational feel to the tweet, the smiley face and exclamation point accentuates it! Buffer has a great way for showing appreciation for praise, makes me want to say thanks again.
All four of these responses are great, but which ones would you rather receive? Let me guess the ones with the exclamations and emoticons, right? Yeah, me too! In social media it can be tempting to simply answer a question or reply with a “Yep, thanks for the mention”, but it’s important to put in a little more effort for the receiver. Remember it’s the little things that can make a big difference.
How do you make them feel?
I believe in the field of customer service all that matters is how the customer feels at the end of the interaction. While attempting to expand on this, a quote immediately came to mind spoken by the late Maya Angelou –
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If customer service had an official motto this should be the one.
I have read several blogs discussing the issue of emoticons; are they professional; what if my business has more of corporate feel; will my customers take me seriously? No matter your stance, ask yourself how do you want your customers to feel? Then you will have your answer on how to respond to them. Remember, emoticons are one of many things you can use to send happy vibes to your customers there are GIFs, images, memes, and videos. We will save those for another blog post. 🙂
Do you use emoticons or excessive exclamations points? Do you think it’s child’s play and not for the business world? Please, let me know on Twitter – inquiring minds want to know!
Limited Support Hours
I saw this message when I logged in to MailChimp today. Clear and concise message that sets my expectations. Well done.
Lame Do Not Reply Emails
My Internet provider just sent this email:
With the data security breach experienced by Target over the holidays, we know many people have been issued new credit cards in recent months. This is just a friendly reminder that if you’ve had your credit card replaced for any reason (security, expiration, etc.), you need to update your Exede account with the new information.
While I admire them looking out for me, I’m left confused. Do I need to update my card? It wasn’t involved in the Target mess but from this email, it feels like I should. Maybe?
So I go to email them and find this gem at the bottom of the email.
Now I have to go fill out this long support form just to get an answer. It would’ve been a lot easier if I could’ve just hit reply on that email.
Live Chat Support at Automattic
I’ve had the opportunity to begin leading a new live chat initiative at Automattic with a few other awesome Happiness Engineers and thought it might be worthwhile to post some thoughts. Live chat support is a big push within Automattic this year as we strive to give our customers the best and fastest method of support possible. We’re starting off slow, but hope to ramp up as the year goes on.
Live chat support is very exciting since it’s an almost immediate way to help users, where as they may have to wait hours or even days in extreme cases to get help via email. As long as there are enough happiness engineers online to handle the volume, users can expect quick response times and fast follow-up replies from those helping them. It’s is also preferable to email because the issue is usually resolved once the chat is finished, whereas email correspondence could take several emails to resolve an issue, often spread over days. In rare cases we may need to follow-up with the user via email if their issue can’t be fixed immediately, but that’s easy enough to do and doesn’t disrupt the flow of incoming chats too much.
The rapid fire nature of live chat support can be a bit overwhelming at first, but everyone adjusts quickly and once they’re up to speed on the tool and feel confident in giving answers, we can all handle 3 or more chats at once with relative ease. It definitely helps to use a tool like TextExpander to have some general replies and links ready to go, but I generally wouldn’t recommend having large blocks of text as snippets since the conversation then begins to lose its informal feel.
All in all, this has been a great experience, and I look forward to expanding it even more as the year goes on. We’re already planning a live chat focused meetup later this year so we can brainstorm how to refine and improve our current setup. If you have questions or comments about what we’re doing, I’d be happy to receive those. The best way to get in touch with me is via Twitter.
Originally published here.
But It’s Not an Automated Email
P.S. Though this is not an automated email, we keep on sending out these emails to all those people whom we find eligible of using our services. To unsubscribe from future mails (i.e., to ensure that we do not contact you again for this matter), please send revert E-mail with “remove please” as subject.
Sure, that’s definitely not an automated email. If you find yourself adding a P.S. like this on your emails to customers, just don’t even think about sending it.
How to Host an Online Class
I love hosting online classes for Basecamp. Twice a week, our team gets to meet with customers and show them how Basecamp can help them be more awesome. And every time I talk to other support teams about our classes, the conversation always turns to how to get started.
I fully believe that you should be offering classes to your customers this year. So let’s talk about how to get you started with them.
Steps for hosting a successful class
1) Create the class.
You’ve got to start somewhere on this, right? So start with laying out the class itself. Pick the general topic first. If this is the first class you’ll offer, go with a general introduction to your product topic. You’ll want to cover things like the basics of what your product can do to help your customers be more awesome at their job.
After you pick the topic, write out a list of items you want to cover in the class. Then work those items into a natural flow that a person new to your product might go through. From that list, create a script for yourself to follow during the class. That’ll come in handy for the first few classes. Save the improving for when you’re more familiar with how you want this class to go.
Last point on this one – save time at the end for a live Q&A. A class without a chance to ask questions is just a video. By having a Q&A, it becomes a two-way street and gives you a much better experience.
2) Pick a video conference tool.
There’s a lot of them out there. GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, WebEx, Google Hangouts, etc. I use GoToWebinar because it works well when you’ve got a few hundred people in the class. If you’re looking at a smaller class, Google Hangouts are a great, free option.
3) Set up a landing page with upcoming classes and sign up.
You’ll need a page to direct people to for signing up. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just tell people what the class will be about, give a list of upcoming class times, and include a link to sign up for each class time that you offer. By having them sign up, you’ll have a good idea of how many people will attend each one. Plus, you’ll get their name and email so you can follow-up with them after the class. (More on that part later).
4) Add a link to that landing page on your marketing site and any welcome emails.
The page only works if people know about it. So send it out on a regular basis. Add it to any tours that you have on your marketing site. Include it in any welcome emails to new customers. Getting new customers to take a class will help with any product onboarding that you do.
5) Test it all out!
Don’t let a customer try any of this before you test it out. Check the entire flow from registering for a class to showing up at the right time for it. I’ve seen too many people not test their tech and end up with egg on their face come class time.
6) Record it.
Every customer won’t be able to make your live class times. After you get a couple under your belt, record one of them and add it to your sign up page. That way customers can always watch a class on their schedule rather than waiting around on yours.
7) Follow-up with attendees.
After the class is over, send the attendees a short follow-up email. You got their name and email address back in step three, right? This gives you a chance to say thanks for attending. They get a chance to ask you any lingering questions.
Things to keep in mind
The more you host an online class, the more little things you’ll learn. Here’s a few quick little things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Keep them short.
Even if you offer these classes for free (and you should), customers are still paying by giving you their time. 30 minutes is more than enough for an online class that’s a general intro to your product. More advanced classes make take longer but even then, I’d recommend to stick close to 30 minutes or less.
Make them easy to register and attend.
If customers have to fill out huge sign up forms, you’ll see a drop off in registrations. All you need is their name and email. That’s more than enough to sign up for a class. For the attending part, don’t make them download some video conference app that only works on a specific operating system or browser. That’s just more hassle for them.
Don’t call them a webinar.
Seriously, don’t use the word “webinar”. It’s dumb, stupid, and just sounds wrong. Really, who though putting “web” and “seminar” together was a good idea?
Make time zones easy.
Unless your product is only used by people in one timezone, you’re going to run into the joy of time zones. On your landing page, make sure you show the timezone clearly. Otherwise, you’ll have people like me showing up an hour early or an hour late because I didn’t know you meant Pacific Time for the class start time.
Customers love online classes
I’ve been part of online classes for over two years now and the majority of customers I’ve talked to love them. They love getting free training and having the live Q&A to get answers right there.
Give it a shot this year. I’m betting your customers will love it too.
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