We may not remember how conversations end or the exact words used, but we always remember how they made us feel.
The same can be said for customer service interactions.
Developing a strong customer service voice and using thorough agent training to deliver a consistent customer experience is vital to building a rapport with your customers.
Slipping customer satisfaction ratings, low NPS scores, and a poor word-of-mouth reputation indicate a bad customer experience. Ambiguous language is another thing that can cause misunderstanding, leaving a bad taste in your customer's mouth. It's best to avoid at all costs by clarifying your company's customer service voice using these strategies:
- Define Your Goals: Strategically formulated by examining your brand’s big picture plans.
- Brand Your Language: Make it unique to your brand. Prioritize making your customers feel special, appreciated, and heard.
- Meet Your Customers Where They’re At: Ensure you’re accessible and communicate efficiently via the platforms they use most.
- Outline Expectations: A clear set of guidelines will guarantee your agents know the speed of response, brand language, and what outcome they’re aiming for from each customer interaction.
- Create and Maintain a Knowledge Base: Keep all of your staff updated on expectations, need-to-know information, and changes in one central location.
What is a Consistent Customer Experience?
Consistent customer experiences occur when all of your company’s representatives provide a seamless, consistent experience for customers – regardless of how the customer reaches out.
To arm agents with the tools needed to provide consistent customer service, a company needs to provide its agents with comprehensive training, including clear expectations on how to use language and lead a visitor through conversation to a resolution or a sale.
How to Prevent an Inconsistent Customer Experience
1. Define Your Goals
First, define your goals as a customer service provider. To determine the best voice for your agents to use, you must be able to pinpoint the goal of each conversation your agents have with your customers.
Will they be providing sales support, technical support, or general product knowledge and information?
Outline ways you and your agents can use words or phrases to shape the customer experience. For example, instead of saying, “no problem,” say, “you’re welcome,” or “it’s my pleasure!”
Instead of saying, "I can't help with that," you could respond, "That's a great question! I would be happy to do some research to find out which member of our team would be the best to help."
If you offer live chat or email, dig into your chat archives and review your transcripts to evaluate the type of interactions you've received. While reviewing, look for opportunities to use your language in future conversations to shape your customers' perception of your brand.
2. Brand Your Language
Next, decide the language specifications that are appropriate to represent your company.
Is slang fine to use? Do you mind if your agents use emojis in written correspondence with customers? Are there any terms or phrases you don't want to be associated with your brand and prefer not to use?
Create a glossary of terms for your employees to use as they interact with customers. Having access to documented language guidelines can ensure that every agent is on the same page regarding communication standards.
Verify that your agents use the techniques you outline. If all agents aren’t using your brand’s language, your customer will feel like they are speaking with a different company each time they contact you.
Defining your company’s communication goals helps your agents and customers understand the message you’re trying to convey.
Think hard about what – and how – your brand wants to communicate with your customers. Do you call your customers by a particular name (guest, clients, members, etc.)? How do your employees refer to themselves? Consistency in these areas makes it more likely that your message will be received.
For example, referring to your customers as “guests” helps reinforce the idea that they are valued humans and not just a customer, and should be treated as such.
Up the hospitality factor of your service so your customers know they are essential to your brand. Typical customer support is straightforward, polite, and handles business. That will suffice, but why not shoot for excellence?
Hospitality goes above and beyond regular customer support because it anticipates not only the needs of customers but also their desires, verbalized or not!
Hospitable service is selfless, genuine, and puts visitors’ comfort at the forefront of your interactions to make experiences memorable and pleasant.
While planning how to make your service more hospitable, consider the industry that your company is in and plan your customer service accordingly.
For more formal industries, your agents should use a tone that is professional and buttoned-up. If your business is more casual and you’re aiming for a fun, but supportive tone, check out the social media accounts of some brands that have nailed that tone to get ideas on how to bring that vibe to your interactions.
3. Meet Your Customers Where They’re At
In the modern world, you need to meet your customers where they are by expanding your online presence to the platforms they typically use and adjust your strategy accordingly.
For example, if many visitors use your company’s Twitter account to reach out, consider how your representatives can effectively assist them using short tweets or direct messages.
Live chat and email allow longer, more in-depth conversations, but comment threads on Facebook or your Instagram may not be the best place to go deep with customers. If they should contact you via email or chat, make sure to include that direction in the service handling guidelines outlined for your customer service agents.
Make sure you're prepared to offer a tailored service on each platform by reviewing interactions you've had with customers on each of your pages. Observe the motives of customers that contact you, so you're armed and ready with appropriate responses.
4. Outline Expectations
Determine chat and email handling standards for every type of interaction.
If you provide a variety of services (technical, sales support, etc.), each service branch may need to be handled differently. Regardless, all areas will need to have the same tone and messaging, defined by the guidelines you've decided. Some terms or phrases may be approved for use across all services, while some may be isolated to just one.
Include expectations on appropriate response times to customer contact. What is the length of time that you feel is appropriate to respond to customers? How long is too long for a customer to wait for a reply from your email or social media team? Think of these metrics in terms of business days – or hours, and plan accordingly.
These guidelines guarantee that your representatives know exactly what they are responsible for doing and when. It helps them understand how their timeliness affects customer satisfaction and perception.
Create a visual flowchart (or an EIM) with suggested responses to commonly asked questions to help your agents guide a customer interaction. EIM stands for "Engage, Identify, Match," and outlines the flow of conversation that leads your customers down the path to conversion (sales) or resolution (support).
5. Use a Knowledge Base to Document Your Process
A knowledge base is a system that is used to document information about the processes and procedures your company uses. You can use your knowledge base to record standard response expectations for your representatives to reference.
Don’t be afraid to use a mixture of content types in your knowledge base, as both short and long-form content may be helpful to agents. If you create a customer-facing knowledge base, your visitors can use it to find new information and answer common questions, thus establishing your brand as the authority through thought leadership.
As your company scales, you can record any necessary shifts in your brand’s tone, mission, or guidelines via your knowledge base.
Train Staff to Ensure Alignment
Keep your agents up to date with new changes to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Changes happen naturally as company goals are met, new ones are made, and your customer base evolves. It's essential to continue to reach your customers where they are by keeping your customer-facing employees up to date on any need-to-know information.
When support representatives are not quickly informed of changes, outdated and incorrect information will be relayed to your customers.
Imagine adding new products or promotions to your online store and informing your employees. When customers inquire about products or services your employees will be unable to upsell or provide support, causing you to miss out on revenue.
Tying it All Together
It may seem daunting to define your brand’s customer service voice. But, it is a great way to ensure a consistent, outstanding customer experience every time they interact with you.
Improving your customer’s overall support experience will help you remain connected to consumers. Happy customers are more likely to return as loyal promoters than uncertain ones.
With a few tweaks to your agent training, research into your customers’ preferred communication style and method, and documenting preferred language and tone, your company’s customer service voice will be clear and defined, leading the way to happier customers and better relationships.
Want to understand how to use your company’s customer service voice to wow your customers? Need advice on how to create and document expectations to increase your revenue? Drop us a message or check out these articles: