[MUSIC PLAYING] Your call is important to us. Well, that's what they say, but then they don't answer the phone. Almost everybody claims to offer great service, and yet so few actually deliver. And one reason for that is there's no definition of good service. The specifics are going to differ for every business. The better you know your customers, the better you can understand what they want from you, and what good service looks like for them.
But there are some underlying principles of good service, though you can apply them in many different forms. Great service is timely, accurate, consistent, human, and low effort. Timely means, responding to customers within a reasonable timeframe according to your industry, your customer base, your support channel. If you're offering live chat, they'll expect a reply within a minute or so. For email support, a same business day reply is much better than average.
Accurate-- it sounds like a low bar, but making sure you understand what the customer is asking for and giving them the right answers will put you well ahead of many competitors. Consistent-- customer trust is built up not by one great experience, but through consistent service over time, a single amazing customer service experience can be ruined by a bad one the next time round. Human-- treat your customers as people.
That means being flexible, conversational, relational. It doesn't necessarily mean talking to a person directly, it's about making the person feel like they're important to your business as an individual. Low effort-- reducing the effort required to get a problem solved has been shown to greatly increase customer loyalty and long term value. Whether you're offering email, social media, phone, or chat support, the same principles apply.
And you can design your systems and the way you talk to your customers around them. But consistent, timely, so boring. What about that Zappos person who stayed on the phone with a customer for so long. They got a catheter installed, isn't that great customer service? Maybe. Delighting a customer with a surprising interaction. That can be great for them. It can be good PR, but it should only be added on top of a solid base of consistent, reliable, timely service.
Let's take a couple of minutes to talk about talking to customers. Because excellent service is more than conveying information, it's forming a connection to another person. It's very possible to do that poorly if you're not careful. Because your voice, your tone as a business that defines your brand, as much as your design or your marketing does. Think about airlines, they have to do safety briefings. They all have pretty much the same information to deliver, but the way that they choose to deliver that information means that airlines can feel very different before they even left the ground.
What about your business? Will it be formal, professional? Will it be casual and fun? Being deliberate about how you start conversations, and choose phrases and words that are consistent with how you want your business to be perceived. A few quick tips use positive language instead of-- we're out of stock, sorry, try. We will have that in stock for you in a couple of days. Be concise-- you can be friendly and human, but don't make your customers read or listen to a long speech before they get their answer.
Value their time as well as their money. And be human even if you need to be quite formal. Use their name, mirror their tone, so it's clear you're listening to them and responding to them individually. And here's a useful model-- answer, elaborate, anticipate. Answer the question that they've asked right up front, but then go ahead elaborate. Give them useful additional context. And then anticipate what their next question might be, and give them that answer too.
As a very basic example, customer says, is this shirt available in blue? Start with your direct answer, no, not at the moment. Elaborate-- we do have a similar shirt style in blue. And anticipate-- we have them in stock in your usual size and their 24.99. Remembering that patent helps you provide a fuller answer and better service. But sometimes, things can go wrong.
You're going to be in tough conversations, difficult situations. So first, listen. It is hard to sit back and absorb someone else's anger or frustration. But if you take a breath, create space for everybody to breathe, and to move forwards. Apologize sincerely, empathize, make it clear that your at fault if you are, give a genuine apology. And be direct, don't waffle around the problem.
Be clear about what happened, and what you're going to do about it. I care about why. If a customer is upset, and it seems unreasonable to you, ask them to explain. They might have been relying on you for something that you never anticipated. Unless you ask them, you won't find out. And when you do understand the underlying issue, you might still be able to help. And even if not, they at least know that they've been heard. You can spend your whole career getting better at this stuff, so check out the resources below.
We've got more helpful information there. Are you ready to give some exceptional service? Maybe you've left already off to a whole other tab in your browser to buy some tools. Well, if you're still here, a little secret. You might not even need a help desk. [MUSIC PLAYING]