What is Exceptional Customer Support?

Despite a wealth of books and courses on the subject available it continually amazes me how the advantages of exceptional customer support have passed many businesses by, and yet this is so often the case: online, on our high-street and even within our own businesses.

Last week I had to return a kettle I had bought a few days before; it didn’t work. When I tried to return it I was unfortunately met with some less than satisfying customer support. The sales assistant initially tried to persuade me not to return it before admitting he didn’t have the authority to authorize the return, he had to go fetch the assistant shop manager. Predictably the assistant shop manager was already dealing with another irate customer, probably another victim of their poor customer service, and I had to wait a further ten minutes. After testing the kettle multiple times it was decided I was being honest and I left with my refund, never to return to the shop in question again.

Clearly this was not exceptional customer support, so what is? How can we make sure each and every one of our employees maintains high standards of customer service and support? The following points are just a few ways you can increase the standard of your customer support which will lead to an increase in customer retention and customer satisfaction.

Exceptional training leads to exceptional customer support

The training processes that you put into place for your organization will dictate how good your customer support is. By training all your staff well you set the tone for the company culture. Most people in the world today (estimated 90%) do not have a ‘learning mindset’, they do not actively seek out ways to improve themselves and their abilities. These people will not improve what they know unless forced to do so as part of their job, and unless you have a very stringent hiring process designed only to take learners you will have a lot of these people on your staff. To instill good customer support in your whole staff you will need to put excellent training processes into place to make it part of your company culture.

Anticipating needs, improving experiences

Great customer support involves not just reacting to customers, but anticipating their needs in advance and being ready to fulfill them. Whatever you sell you are likely to get some returns, so put a process into place to deal with returns quickly and easily. Are you dealing with some more complicated items that a customer may need help installing or setting up? Train your staff to know how to do this, or if this is impossible (too many products) create a knowledgebase that staff and customers can refer to, invest in technical support where necessary. All of these problems can be anticipated and dealt with before they ever appear which will lead to a great experience for your customer when they do need support.

One step further

For truly great customer service you should always go one step further than the customer expects, exceeding their expectations. For example a customer rings up with a problem with a good they have purchased from you. The action they actually need to take is to speak to the manufacturer for help, however rather than just telling them this you can explain the situation to them, put them on hold while you call the manufacturer and lay out the problem and then pass them over to the correct person to speak to at the manufacturers company. Just taking the time to go that little bit further can make a world of difference.

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