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How to Boost Customer Experience Metrics by Being a Person

March 22, 2019

Hey, I'm Erik. I manage our support team at Votacall - we set our customers up for success by solving problems, and recommending solutions that help prevent them in the future.

We track our support numbers pretty closely, because we know that those ultimately feed into our customer experience metrics. Our goal is to make sure that customers aren't just satisfied with our service, but happy enough to stay with and tell other people about us.

Every support person & team should have detailed knowledge of their product and the technical skills to manage it. Those are a given. If you want to separate yourself from the pack and offer an experience your customers will remember, you need to focus on one thing: being a person.

If you're able to empathize with your customers, understand unique problems, and go out of your way to solve them, you'll differentiate your company and product from the rest. If you can do that, positive customer experience metrics will follow.

Think like the customer

We try to boil "thinking like the customer" down to two things: being empathetic, and consistently providing updates while working on problems.

Empathy is your biggest asset, and you can't fake it. It's OK to be sorry, but it's more important to show it than say it. We've all been on customer service calls where a rep repeatedly apologizes, but doesn't seem to be making any progress toward solving the problem. Those conversations aren't productive for the customer or the rep, and usually leave a bad taste in your mouth. Studies show that at a certain point, repeating the word "sorry" actually lowers customer satisfaction because it's indicative of poor service.

The key isn't to consistently apologize or work from a script - it's to actively listen. You can't put yourself in a customer's shoes if you're the one doing all the talking, and you definitely can't solve complex problems that way. I think one of the big strengths of our team is that we don't offer canned solutions. Sure, we get some tickets that are easy-fixes, but most customer challenges are unique and need to be treated that way. That's why it's important to keep quiet, chime in when it's appropriate, and above all - make sure you have a thorough understanding of the problem before offering potential solutions.

The other aspect of "thinking like a customer" is providing consistent updates. Showing them how you're working to solve the problem is just as important as actually solving it. Otherwise, you could spend hours troubleshooting issues and trying different solutions, but still be creating a bad experience for the customer by keeping them in the dark.

By solving for unique problems and having productive support conversations, you create great experiences for your customers and set your company apart. A customer experience metric we all track is churn rate - we've been able to keep ours low by being effective problem-solvers, and being human.

Own the problem, start to finish

The worst support experiences come from being told, in some form, that it's "not our fault." If the problem really isn't on your end, find a way to make that known while still helping out any way you can. In the long run, it's always worth going out of your way to help customers find resolutions to problems even if you didn't cause them.

Know what's even better than retaining a customer? Making one happy enough that they'll go out of their way to tell someone else about you. A key customer experience metric that companies track is Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures how likely someone would be to recommend a company to a friend or colleague. If you actually care about your customers and show it by going the extra mile, they're more likely to tell someone about you.

Our business relies on a bunch of different things to work together well, and we wouldn't get very far with our customers if we didn't own problems. In fact, one of our core values is that we don't play "support tennis" - that means that we try to help diagnose and solve issues that didn't start with us, because they're impacting our service anyway.

The point is that in many cases, customers don't care who's to blame. They just need their problem fixed.

Don't just solve the problem, suggest a better solution

Most times, problems aren't isolated. That's why it's important to look for underlying issues - if you only treat the symptom, the actual problem is much more likely to resurface down the road.

Like I mentioned earlier, the best support experiences happen when you actually listen. This isn't just because good listening helps solve the immediate problem - if you really have a good understanding of the issue, you can usually dig a little deeper to find its root.

Once you start solving deeper-level problems and suggesting solutions that your customers don't necessarily know to look for, you can truly become a trusted resource for them, rather than the 800 number they call when something's broken. Any customer experience metric you track, from handle times to customer retention, will reflect that.

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