Every company has a different customer support style. It might be formal, it might be informal, or it might be somewhere in between. In fact, many companies fail to consider their customer service style when thinking about improvements that could be made.
Technology is important, of course, but a company with the best and brightest technology -- properly integrated and used -- could still be falling down in customer service, and it may be because they’re getting the style wrong, according to a recent article by Forbes’ contributor Micah Solomon.
“…there’s actually a variety of customer service styles in the world,” wrote Solomon. “Your company, for that matter, already has one. On purpose or, as likely, by default: a service style that has evolved without your active guidance that has sprung up from the experiences and inclinations of the people who work for you. And it may not suit you (and your customers) as well as it could.”
More formal contact center styles – which tend to follow strict scripts – may not work very well with younger customers. On the flip side, an older customer may take exception to being called by his or her first name by a stranger. Getting the style right is something only someone who knows the company’s customers very well can do, after a great deal of reflection. What type of language works best for your customers? Can agents be flexible and adapt for individual customers? Yes to scripts, or no? How do you address customers? What are industry standards today, and what are your competitors doing? What sort of language do you use with angry customers? What phrases are forbidden? (“Calm down,” for example, has never, EVER actually induced an angry customer to calm down.) How much transparency do you want to offer customers into the processes of the contact center?
The difficulty here is that there will never be a monolithic answer, since customers aren’t all the same, according to Solomon.
“What matters most is the style of service that suits the specific customer in front of you, the specific human being you’re serving, at the specific moment of their life at which the service is being offered,” he writes. “Figuring out how to adjust to the mood, mindset, pacing, sensibilities of the rushed banker or the relaxed yoga mom…Figuring out that your long-time, usually chipper customer is different today, that perhaps her pet died or her job is in jeopardy, and toning down your own chipperness to match.”
This will put more responsibility into the hands of agents, who must be trained not to be tone-deaf and take cues on style from customers themselves. A customer who begins the call with a cheerful “Hiya, Dude!” is going to require a different touch than a customer who begins a call with a brisk, “Yes, Good Morning.” This will require a sharpening of agent soft skills to ensure that your contact center isn’t offering a “one size fits all” style to customers, because customers, as we know, don’t come in one flavor.