If you were to ask me to sum up the ideology of customer support in one phrase (and one phrase, only), I’d say it’s “The Customer is King”. It’s as simple as that. The Customer is King. The Customer’s the one doing you the favor of giving you his business so you better listen up and do everything you can to make sure his life is as easy as possible. Which is great….except when it’s not.
See, just like kings through history, there are some great customers. And there are tyrants. Like this person at the Dunkin’ Donuts store. Yes, you didn’t receive a receipt. But there’s no need to yell.
A lot of people complain about receiving bad customer service from brands without ever stopping to wonder if they’re being a good customer. If you don’t do the courtesy of treating your support reps like they are human beings as well, they’re not going to be motivated to giving you their best.
Exemplary customer service happens only when the customer and the support rep meet halfway.
But what are the hallmark virtues of a good customer? And how can you make sure that you’re a favorite? Well, Good customers:
Share the good times as well
It seems hardly fair that most of us don’t even take a second’s breather before we’re tweeting (and posting on Facebook) about that time the support rep was absolutely horrible to us yet we don’t even think about posting the good times to the same social network. The unfairness just gets compounded when you factor in the stickiness of bad customer service stories; these stories have a half-life of eternity and will never fade out of public memory whereas a good customer service story is forgotten almost the next second in favor of a listicle/quiz.
It doesn’t cost you a thing but it’ll help make your support rep’s day better. Not to mention, the next time you go to them with a problem, they’ll make sure to return the karma and roll out the red carpet for you.
Respect the company’s policies
I’ve always thought that the response to “I’m sorry but <a feature is going to take a while>, <we can’t approve that refund>…” is what distinguishes a favorite customer from a not-so-favored customer. Some accept it gracefully. Customers might make a few pointed remarks but they understand that it is the way it is. Others, sometimes, rant and rave until the support rep’s been reduced to tears.
We agree that some policies can be frustrating and aggravating, but it’s hardly fair for to take it out on the support rep. Chances are they didn’t create the policy and you’re just shooting the poor messenger.
And then, there’s the matter of expectations. We agree that everyone has the right to a warm, friendly customer interaction that is akin to napping in a sunbeam. But not every company is equipped to provide such support right from go.
The customers that adjust their expectations to the realities of the businesses they’re dealing with are the favored lot.
Is there anything as amazing as customer feedback? I don’t think so. Not only is it actual, solid proof that your customer loves you (if they didn’t, they wouldn’t bother trying to show you where you’re off path) but you can also use it in a number of ways – more than just driving your product’s roadmap.
The easiest way to win a support rep (and a product manager)’s heart is by providing feedback.
Especially if you take the time to analyze the product properly and provide well-thought suggestions. Taking that extra step and finding time to send the support rep a thank you note coupled with feedback will go a long way in helping you be one of the favored ones.
Remember that the support agents are people too
Everyone goofs up at some point or the other. No matter how meticulous a person is, there are days when no amount of coffee will help them out of grogginess. Days when you aren’t at your 100% best and it manifests in your work as typos, grammatical errors and sometimes even factual errors.
Everyone has days like that. The only problem is that most people just don’t seem to remember that other people do too. So, the next time you seek help from a support rep, remember they’re people too. They have stress in their lives too.
No support rep wants to make life miserable; they just want to help in whatever way possible. Support reps shouldn’t have to earn the right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
While it might be difficult to remember when you’re in the situation, just take a deep breath before hitting that send button (or dialing that phone number. Or clicking on that live-chat). Think about how you’d feel if you were in that situation. Then, give yourself a buffer of about ten minutes before you get in touch with support. This will not only help you calm down but you’ll also be able to better state your problem in a more calm and composed manner.
When you send in a support request, it’s best to put in as much context as possible (this might be a screenshot or even a screencast, if necessary). That’s the only way you can make sure your problem is solved as quickly as possible. This way, you don’t have to go through a series of exchanges just to get the basic information out of the way frustrating both you and the support agent.
Just the way a good support agent would anticipate follow-up questions and answer them in her replies, a good customer would anticipate the information an agent would need to solve the problem and include it in their first request.
However, if the situation is very complex with a lot of history, it’s a good idea to keep the complaint itself concise, and then append or attach the details. If the rep who was assigned your request is not equipped to deal with your problem, he can easily pass it off to someone who can.
Customer support is still a two-way street. You get what you give. Being a good customer usually ends in a win-win; not only does it brighten a support rep’s day and helps you receive good service.
It’s time to spread good customer stories. Do you have a story? Let us know in the comments section.