How To Be A Customer Champion

How To Be A Customer Champion

In this guest article, Jasmine Gray (pictured) of Aircall delves into what it takes to form great customer relationships, how to understand and use empathy to your advantage, and be creative in your approach to customer interactions and engagement.

Working in customer services can be a wonderful experience. The satisfaction of helping customers out, and having a real influence on the reputation and growth of organisations I worked for, is what kept me in this industry for the past 20 years. CS teams have a pivotal role for companies at a time when customers value effective and positive communications, listening and problem-solving. I have always strived for my teams to share this passion for making the customer experience more special, helping them manage and grow their soft and hard skills, and overcome their challenges. I’m sharing some of my learnings here, hoping it will help more people become customer champions.

The 3Cs: the trifecta for a good customer interaction

Talking to my teams about customer interactions, I encourage them to keep the 3Cs in mind: Clarity, Confidence and Control. Essentially, when there is Clarity on the situations, customers and agents have the Confidence to proceed, and feel they are in Control of the situation. Many agents assume too quickly callers are clear on an issue and the options to resolve it, and move on. If a caller sounds hesitant or too quiet, they usually are not fully confident, or don’t feel in control, which is a bad outcome. The problem is that they will not necessarily say it, unless they are asked to.

Pausing and asking customers if anything needs to be explained again, or playing back what you have understood them to need goes a long way to ensure there is clarity. When clarity is reached, and the customer is fully confident and in control, it also gives the agent confidence to proceed with a minimal risk that the customer will not be satisfied by the interaction. Effective communication is critical in CS, and this framework ensures the interaction is mutually beneficial.

Empathy is important, but what does it mean? 

In my opinion, empathy is the greatest soft skill an agent can bring into their day-to-day. Being empathetic allows us to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes and understand their position. This does not mean we need to become our customer’s therapist, but it allows us to see the situation from their perspective, and adjust our behaviour and response accordingly. What is the customer’s problem? How would I feel if this happened to me, and what would I expect from customer services? They want to feel CS understand them, and to do that, we often have to be in the customer’s mindset ourselves.

Those who show empathy will find themselves building stronger relationships with customers, and it often has a positive effect on the team in general as it fosters a culture of care, understanding and support. However, make sure you draw a line in the sand and do not get emotionally involved either.

Be creative 

Customers are bombarded with brand messages, which does not make it easy to nurture customer relationships. Creativity in customer interactions is increasingly key in standing out, even though there are often procedures and templates to follow. Whether over email or on the phone, I’m always encouraging CS agents to make these templates their own, and let their personality shine through it if it means providing a more authentic experience.

Creativity can also lie in the way we support customers. For example sending a short video of yourself answering their questions, or showing how to solve their issue is unique and engaging. For those who are nurturing a customer base, it can be about creating new ways to collect important feedback and information, for example inviting them to a mini quarterly or annual reviews.

Forget these preconceived ideas

“I’m too introverted to work in customer services”. Wrong. Over my years in customer care, I often have found introverted agents to be exceeding customer expectations. You don’t have to be outgoing to be friendly and caring, and introverts usually show more patience and a better ability to listen, which helps with problem solving.

“I can’t work for a company whose products I’m not familiar with”. Wrong. Technical knowledge is more easily learnt than soft skills. Companies that are smart at recruiting customer champions will primarily look at finding people with the right values and personalities for the job. The rest can be learnt through training. Never forbid yourself to apply to companies in industries you don’t know anything about.

“There is no career path in customer services”. Wrong. Customer care has much more depth and diversity than most people think. Customer support is only the first layer of it, and growing in this industry can lead to careers in customer services, customer experience, CRM, sales and more, with strategic roles having a real impact on an organisation’s evolution and growth. The sky is your limit.

Ultimately, keeping customers happy requires both soft and hard skills. Emotional intelligence, perceptiveness and intuition are essential to read customers’ reactions and adjust to them, and it is equally important to speak their language from a technical perspective. But the bottom line is that both can be gained through training and experience, and that anyone can thrive in customer services, just like I have done in the past 20 years.

Jasmine is Customer Success Team Manager APAC at global cloud phone solutions company Aircall. She is an experienced customer experience executive, with 20 years of experience in customer care, including disciplines such as Cx, Customer Success, Sales and Business Development, including over 10 years in the tech sector. She has held customer success roles at shopping platform Wish, donation marketplace Givar (previously Benojo), and event organisation company Hidden Door Experiences, which she also co-founded. 

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