Let’s be honest, working within the realm of customer service can be extremely rewarding or downright miserable. With the various amount of situations that can arise on any given day, it can be hard to pinpoint a concrete strategy that works for everyone. From shipping complications, to billing issues, address changes, account transfers, or device hiccups: you never quite know what will end up in your inbox next. Like most things in life, each situation can have several outcomes. In my experience, it depends on variables such as attitude, speed, resources, personability, and style. And this is not a “let me pick one” and get it right scenario. You need to be 10 out of 10 on all of these in order to create a killer customer service experience.

Since Karma launched, almost two years ago, I have mostly been the sole contact for our customers. Being thrown into the fire so quickly with a brand new, unknown customer base, I had the ability to mold the style of our support and how the experience plays out. I probably did something right; I lasted this long! I also learned a lot along the way. Here are some tips from myself on creating a top-notch customer service experience.

Approach

When a customer first writes in, you need to fully read their message and understand the question or issue at hand. By doing this, you can also gather clues on that person’s unique personality and attitude, which is key in your response to them. By understanding the language and style they use, you can better modify your response. This, in turn, can only positively affect the customer, especially if they are already frustrated.

For example, here are two different tones:

A: “What’s up! I’m having a little trouble remembering which email I used and I’m a little bummed. Could you help?”

B: “Good Afternoon. I am attempting to log into my settings, but it seems I may have forgotten the email address associated with my account. Would you mind offering some assistance on this matter? Thank you very much”

Immediately, you can recognize their personal style. This helps you modify your response back to them in order to better relate and create a comfortable first impression.

Speed

After thousands of customer emails, it is only a matter of time until you start to recognize familiar issues or situations. If you really want to surprise a customer, fix their issue before your first reply to them. Once you reply, they will be pleasantly surprised that their issue is already fixed and there is no need for any further emails, besides the usual, “Wow thanks so much!” you’ll probably get back. Also, it saves everyone time. Seriously, do it. This freaks them out, in a good way.

At Karma, sometimes a customer accidentally logs in with a wrong account. When they see they have no data or device anymore in their settings, they instantly freak out and write in. I recognize what happened, quickly switch the accounts, logout the incorrect one, and update their device before emailing them back. You should see how happy they are when their first email back from us is, “Everything is solved!” Now they can get back to surfing the web.

Reward

Everyone handles issues differently. Sometimes, a customer may write in and be extremely angry. But sometimes a customer will write in with a big issue and the right to be angry, but handles the situation with a great attitude. When these come across my screen, it makes me very happy. I’ll go above and beyond to make sure this customer gets everything they need and more. Something as simple as clearly letting them know via words that I appreciate their kindness, or maybe even sending them a Karma shirt. Don’t get me wrong, every customer has the ability and their own fair chance to approach us with a great attitude, but in reality, not everyone does. Everyone gets the help they need, but sometimes a customer truly deserves some love and it’s your duty to let them know.

At the end of the day, you will know you did the right thing and that will always leave you in a good mood.

Be strong

Unhappy customers can sometimes bring the heat, usually as a strategy to get what they want. By this, I mean they come out swinging with insults, threats, foul language, and more. Of course, I always handle these with respect and a good attitude. Most of the time, that will win. Remember to be fair and positive. If they are still relentless with their unfriendly attitude, don’t let that get you down. You can only do so much. Solve the issue as best you can and move on. At the end of the day, you will know you did the right thing and that will always leave you in a good mood.

Don’t Panic

When emergency issues arise that affect your customers, stay calm! Really. Freaking out does not get you any closer to a solution and it will only complicate things. Analyze, understand, and get to work with your team. Handle it the right way, and all will be okay. The customer will leave with a smile and you can get yourself a congratulatory beer (or five).

Follow up

When a situation arises with a customer that needs extra attention, such as a billing/shipping issue or a special request, always follow up with them. After you first figure out the issue, note when the solution will arrive, whether a few hours, a few days, or a week. Then, follow up to see how they are doing. For example, if a customer needs a product shipped to arrive at their hotel on a certain date, I will note this in our system. It is easy to leave it at that. But, I will also keep a note to follow up on the day it is scheduled to arrive at the hotel to make sure they did receive it. This will always impress people and they’ll be grateful that you remembered them.

Little Things

Use a customer’s message for clues on how to spice up your response. This way, they feel as if they are truly having a conversation with someone who cares about them, which they are. It makes it very personal. For example: If a customer mentions Seattle, say “Go Seahawks!” If they mention they are going on a trip, talk to them about it, relate, wish them a good time.

Usually, it all boils down to simply going the extra mile and keeping a good attitude. You’ll notice a lot of these tips are about managing your own emotional state, as much as helping the customer. These are just some rules that I follow on my own when serving customers, but if it applies to your current situation, try them out! If not, maybe you have some strategies of your own you’d like to share? Let’s hear ‘em!


About Dave Ford

That guy who knows more about sports than technology