Customer service is an overlooked product feature.
Your product may amaze your users, but it isn’t flawless. When there’s a problem, your users will complain. And if their issues are poorly handled then you lose that loyal user base.
In recent years there has been a realization that providing phenomenal customer service can have significant effects on growth.
By creating a memorable experience outside of your app, you’ll find users posting on their social media and telling their friends about how wonderful you are.
How do you create a customer service experience that users will never forget?
Here are 5 proven methods to give exceptional customer service.
1. Talk Like You Care.
Users are jaded.
They already dislike having to reach out to get their problems solved, and most of them can spot template copy from a mile away.
If you care, you need to show it. Don’t use template copy to address their issues. Understand that every user and their problems are unique… Even if you’ve heard it 100 times.
First off, make it a priority to respond quickly. In my past companies, I made it a rule to respond to every customer service ticket in less than 15 minutes. Businesses have created a precedent of poor response times via email. So when you respond in less than 12 hours, you end up surprising your user.
By responding quickly, you show to your user you care and are not interested in wasting their time. They feel like a priority.
Users have become accustomed to entering customer service disputes ready to start a fight.
Your first step is to disarm them. In your first response, reaffirm to them that their issue is real and you are sorry (even if it isn’t your fault). If there are directions that answer their question elsewhere on the site, do not just redirect them there. While you may solve their answer, you also make your user feel stupid. Instead just reiterate that answer to your user.
Next, get to know them. Try to have a real conversation with who they are. It could be completely unrelated to your product. A method I used was to write a P.S. comment on their name. Sometimes customers have really neat names. Compliment them on it and ask about the origin of it. I’ve found in B2C products, most people are very receptive to this. What this ends up doing is letting your user know you are interested in who they are and you care.
Here’s an example email with elements that have worked for me:
Oh wow I’m really sorry about mixing up your order like that! I’m going to go ahead and send out a new shipment for you to make up for our mistake. By the way, what did you think of Dried and True flavor we accidentally sent you?
P.S. – I noticed that your last name is Kruustuk. Do you happen to be from Estonia?”
If you’re looking to get even more personalized I would recommend using Intercom (www.intercom.io). They’re great for centralizing your team’s customer service support with important details about your users.
This may seem time consuming, but if you keep it up, you’ll find your word of mouth referrals will experience a sharp jump.
2. Create Support Threads on Forums
Users love knowing they helped create something great. When you ask for feedback and give an open opportunity for your users to state their issues, you create an open forum which can build loyalty.
When you are proactive about addressing potential flaws and issues with your product, the feedback you get can be incredibly constructive.
Open forums allow users to talk to one another. This is what you want people to do in the real world. On the internet, you can create the exact same environment except with a thread full of people who are interested in the topic you create.
If users love your product, you end up creating a forum filled with constructive criticism and evangelists. When you have a post filled with so much positivity, you will win over any potential users with doubts.
For example, if your ideal users are couples in long distance relationships, head to Reddit and post in r/longdistance. Not only will you get to turn frustrated users into evangelists, but the upvotes and comment activity you will receive will boost your post to the top of the subreddit, giving you more exposure to new users.
Companies tend to be afraid of creating an open forum for users to state their problems. If handled incorrectly, it could be a complete disaster. However if you handle each comment with the same tact as step one, then you will create a fanbase that will support you for years to come.
3. Use Twitter and Facebook
It’s important to have a team member who owns your social media. They’re the person that will handle every tweet and comment you receive.
If someone has a complaint, tweet to them.
If someone praises your product, tweet to them.
If someone is unsure about your product, tweet to them.
Mailbox showed me just how powerful this tactic can be.
When I wrote that tweet I didn’t expect Mailbox to respond back to me. I wrote it because I was frustrated. Not only did they let me know they’re fixing it, but they tweeted at me again letting me know that they’re done. I felt valued.
This was incredible. I told everyone about this experience, and I become a loyal Mailbox user.
When I wrote the tweet I saw Mailbox as a business. And in two tweets I saw Mailbox as a personality I respected and appreciated.
Twitter is a great tool to convey your company’s personality with individual users. People don’t expect to receive a tweet from a company’s Twitter or Facebook account. If you give a quick and helpful response discuss their issue, then you will pleasantly surprise your user and let them know their message didn’t fall on deaf ears.
It’s difficult to keep up with when your product is mentioned, so a great tool to use is Mention. Better yet, if your team uses Slack, you can create a Zap that notifies your team in a channel every time someone mentions you.
4. Surprise Your Users
Surprising your users is the easiest way to stand out from your competitors.
When customers make a purchase, they have an expectation. If you don’t meet that expectation, you’re in trouble. If you meet the expectation, they’re satisfied. However contrary to popular belief, the bar doesn’t stop there.
Tony Hsieh built Zappos on exceptional customer service. Hsieh focused so much on providing exceptional customer service that Zappos is commonly stated as the gold standard.
When a customer orders a pair of shoes from Zappos with regular ground shipping, they expect to receive the shoes in a week. Zappos sometimes upgrade their shipping to next day air for free.
Even though this would increase the company’s costs, users would often tell their friends and social media about the awesome experience they had with Zappos.
When I first learned about this at my earlier company, I had to give it a shot. We ran a subscription box company, and with each order we would hand write personal notes and put a wax seal stamp on it. No note had the same message. We personalized each box with details that I had collected from communicating with each user.
This had tremendous results. We had many front page posts on the subreddits we focused on. Our customers would post with photos about how awesome the presentation was and how special they felt. It led to triple digit mon/mon revenue growth.
5. Be Proactive
Sometimes you mess up. You could end up shipping out the wrong order, ship a bug to production, or just say the wrong thing. Most companies notice this and will wait for the user to complain.
Don’t do that.
When you are proactive about a mistake you have made, reach out to your users first. Disarm them before they even have a chance to arm themselves.
If you ship out the wrong order and catch it before they receive it, address it. Send that user an email with an apology, let them keep that order (because you don’t want to force them to go to the post office and ship it back), and ship them the correct one.
If you see that a user experienced a bug or error in your app, send them an email telling them you’re sorry for the poor experience and your team is working on fixing it.
Customers will appreciate this behavior. They’ll know you’re looking out for them and you’re on their side.
When you create a relationship with your customers, they’ll support you in any way they can.
The root of growth is a great product. However your product isn’t just the code or what you send them. It’s the entire experience your company gives. Customer service is the best avenue to creating awesome experiences with your users.
If you’re looking to ramp up your company’s customer service efforts remember to use these five methods:
- Talk like you care
- Create support threads on forums
- Use Mention to watch Twitter and Facebook
- Surprise your users
- Be proactive
These are the methods I’ve had repeatable success with to create a great customer experience. I would love to learn what some of your favorite methods are. Let me know in the comments below or tweet them @willietran_.
Author Bio: This is a guest blog post by Willie Tran. Willie does Growth at Testlio – a complete software testing solution for mobile apps. He has helped companies grow their revenues by focusing on the product experience. He frequently writes about product quality and user experience at testlio.com/blog.