You probably have NO idea how to sell more through great customer service! Most people don’t!
The industry standard is to make as much money as fast as possible. And what totally ruins this concept is that “as fast as possible” is short sighted. And unfortunately most people are unable to see past the next 14 days.
“As fast as possible” ruins it for “Make money”.
Does your costumers feel you are on the same team as them?
What Is Great Customer Service?
Actually, I prefer the word Customer Care instead of Customer Support, but let’s stick with Customer Support for now.
You all know this situation! You call customer support somewhere in a big company and you get a nice voice telling you: Press 1 For sales. Press 2 for Accounting. Press 3 to hang up…
And then you spend 5 minutes navigating through voice menus just to end up in a queue with another voice telling you: You are number 742 in line. Please hold…
In my country I had this horrible experience. A company that had two offices and they had each their phone number. I needed help so I called one of them and the voice menu was long and complicated and all choices ended up referring me to their website. Except one. That referred me to another phone number. So I called this number and noticed the voice menu was the same. Except for the menu with the phone number. It referred me back to the first number.
Now, this is a company that doesn’t care about customers at all. It took me days to get through to a living person. Who simply referred me to the other phone number.
How many customers do you get this way? Less than zero! And how many customers do you lose this way? I guess every one who needs support.
Companies with monopoly does this a lot. Google, Facebook, Instagram etc… The IRS does pretty much the same. I spent 8 hours in line to the IRS at one point and approximately every second hour a live woman asked me what I wanted, told me I was in the wrong line and transferred me to another number and it started all over.
I am simply not ready to deal with people who think a voice answer is an adequate replacement for a human!
They are trying to save money BUT ON MY EXPENSE!!! And that makes my furious.
I cannot think of something I hate more than disrespect for other peoples time and money.
How I ended up in Customer Service
I have been in customer service for years. And it was basically a coincidence I ended up in customer service.
I got a good job in a NGO as an IT expert. I had the entire call centre setup to maintain. Including phones. That, in it self is a customer support job, because the better the phoners feel the better they are doing their jobs!
They had two supervisors and part of their job was to handle the support phone. They were responsible for taking action when customers called in with issues.
It all started one day when they left for lunch. One of them asked me to look out for the support phone while they were eating.
I had absolutely no idea what to do if the phone rang but I accepted the challenge!
And the phone rang. Multiple times. To some of the customers I had to say that I needed to investigate the matter and call them back – which I of course did later.
After a few weeks I was doing a lot of customer support. So much that my name became known among customers. They started specifically asking for me when they called the company’s main number instead of the direct support number.
A lot of the support requests went through our main number and customers got transferred to me.
We sold subscriptions. That meant that some customers wanted to cancel their subscription. In the beginning I didn’t ask questions, but I couldn’t help thinking that it would be useful to know why they wanted to cancel.
So I started asking.
And I got surprised.
People have a lot of reasons to cancel their subscription. Most of them were actually students and they told me they couldn’t afford it anymore.
So I came up with a solution. Two actually! I asked them: What if we cut your subscription in half?
And it worked!
Most people actually wanted to support people in disaster areas, whether it was due to war, flooding or hurricanes, but they had no idea it was possible to simply pay half the amount (or another number for that matter). They thought the number was fixed – which of course was based on our marketing.
The other solution – if that didn’t work was to offer a pause on 3, 6, 9 months or even more, to help these students through a hard time. I simply told them that in order to provide support for others they needed to keep them selves alive first!
And it worked. Better pause them and keep them on board than stop working with them.
We lost a lot less customers and made more money for the poor than if they simply cancelled their subscription entirely. And everybody was happy. Win-Win!
Angry Customers are the BEST!
We also had another type of customers. They were the most interesting and the most rewarding. Many customers had made an agreement with us that if they bought a subscription they would NEVER hear from a phoner again! They simply wouldn’t be bothered with a phoner that tried to upgrade them.
But because of our caller list at that time we couldn’t manage these customers and once in a while a phoner called them anyway and they often got pissed.
That’s where I came into the picture. I was the one who cancelled subscriptions at that time.
So when I got a furious customer on the phone – and it wasn’t funny the first few times, I admit, but I realized almost immediately that I wasn’t personally involved in the conflict and that helped me to stay NEUTRAL! Which appeared to be VERY important.
Well actually I wasn’t that neutral. I regularly told the customers that if people promised me something an failed I would be pissed too!
So I kinda sympathized with the customer and they got the feeling that I was on their team, which ALWAYS caused them to calm down!
That was a huge surprise for me and I quickly realized that the more furious the customers are the more engaged and passionate they are! I became the guide who helped people land safely after being on an emotional roller coaster – WITHOUT TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO!
As a therapist I already knew that telling someone who is furious to calm down usually has the opposite effect!
The obvious reason why they are angry is of course they feel betrayed by us because we didn’t honour our agreement.
But it was deeper than that.
And when they realized that I understood how frustrated they were, they slowly (over a few minutes) turned around and landed safely in my arms.
They supported us for a reason and by taking them from a sky high level of anger down to earth (by empathetic listening), they were subtly reminded why they contributed in the first place.
I realized I gave our customers two things.
1. Wat they wanted
2. What they REALLY wanted
First, they still wanted to support us – or rather, they wanted to support people in need.
Second, they wanted validation and acknowledgement of their frustration – which I gave them. FOR FREE!
Some of the customers felt so accepted and heard that they by them selves suggested and even higher monthly donation! So I made money simply by being nice and understanding.
And I was baffled! Is customer support that simple? Is it really that easy to make a lot more money on great customer support?
The answer to both questions is YES!
The lesson I learned is that if a customer gets what he REALLY wants – understanding and a working solution, he is yours for the rest of his life!
So my question to you is:
Instead of spending a ton of money on getting new customers, wouldn’t it be smarter to make life time customers by making them feel great, feel accepted, feel valued and feel as a part of a tribe that treats them with understanding and respect?
I do the same in my business today.
Is it better to spend money on Ads or on Great Customer Service?
Well – you should probably do both, but spending money on Great Customer Service means you don’t have to spend as much money on ads.
I don’t use money on ads at all. I simply wait for my customers to call me when they have a problem. And they will. They know I can and I will help them. They know they can trust me. They experienced it.
Some times I am a little slow to get back to them because I have a lot to do. But they don’t care! It is OK!
Yes I know, My customer service would be greater if I got back to them faster. I need to improve a little here.
Bad Customer Service
Last year I bought a hard disk from a local company. It simply stopped working. And it was still under warranty. So I made an RMA and sent the drive back and expected it to be a simple matter.
But after 4 long weeks I got a mail saying that the warranty was broken and they wouldn’t refund the drive because it was damaged:
This damage has nothing to do with the drive not working. The connections in the connector is completely unaffected by this. Besides I suspect they themselves were responsible for that damage as I inspected the drive carefully to find scratches or anything else that could influence the warranty, but the drive was looking as if it was unpacked 10 seconds ago. Not a scratch any where.
They found an irrelevant excuse not to refund the drive.
Now drives are not that expensive so I am not complaining about the money I spent and lost.
I am simply trying to drive attention to customer service!
The fact they rejected the RMA due to the wrong reasons means I won’t place any orders there in the future. I can’t trust them to be professional. The people in my company, my friends and customers who ask me where to buy hardware will be guided elsewhere in the future.
It would have cost them close to nothing to accept the RMA and they would have had a customer for life! Possibly even more because I would tell people about this great experience – if it had been great! And they could have gotten some of my customers.
Great customer service nowadays is very rare so they had a unique chance to stand out. But they didn’t. Just like most companies does.
They chose not to invest that money in Great Customer Service as Marketing.
They could have invested money in Great Customer Service which has an infinitely higher ROI than Google Ads!
But they didn’t. And they failed to keep me as a customer.
What I started this article saying: Most people are unable to see past the next 14 days, I really meant it. Many people can’t see the future beyond their own noses. They go for the easy money. The now money.
Great customer service is an insurance policy.
It takes time to show people how caring you are and how much you understand THEIR problems. But when you do you get customers for life!
Is there a formula for Great Customer Service?
Yes and no!
If there is a formula it corresponds to personal development.
In my world we are born open minded and open hearted. But life happens and most of us can’t keep an open mind and an open heart during life. As children we are hurt by thing we as adults don’t remember anymore. And we don’t remember because it hurts! And we don’t like pain.
Luckily there is a way back.
But it is painful too.
So many people don’t want to go this way.
Or more accurately – they are afraid of the pain that needs to be looked at.
BUT it is exactly the looking and acceptance of this pain that reopens our hearts and our minds. This makes us great sales people or great at customer service. Because we RECOGNIZE other human beings pains! And they know it when they are met by someone who deeply understands their pains, frustrations and challenges.
We are born with an open heart, but during life we become selfish and that is OK – at least to some extent. What is more problematic is that we hold on to this self-righteous selfism in stead of letting it go, turn around and go back to the non selfish child stage where we were open and happy. Return to that place with tough experiences and become both happy and wiser. Unfortunately many people can’t even remember they once were happy beyond reason!
Too many people continue to live running away from their pains and fears. They never learn. They will continue living in their own limited world as a neighbour to their own excuses.
And that pain and fear is what makes it hard to go back. We don’t even know the direction back to that happiness. We don’t remember where we came from. Once we were innocent and we will not really ever come back to that innocense. We have to forgive ourselves for betraying that innocense. For leaving it. For growing up. Then we can come back to honesty and truthfulness and that is even better than innocense! That is innosence with experience in mistakes!
So being great at Customer Service and Sales demands that you TRULY feel the need of your customer. You need to be a good listener. Actually you need to be a world class listener! You need to ask the right questions and ‘feel’ the answers. What is the customer telling you with words and what is he telling you in body language.
It is also vital to listen for what the customer DOES NOT say! You really sometimes need to pick up on what is NOT said and ask questions in that direction.
You need to look into the eyes of your customer and feel his sadness, his pain, his passion and his needs. Physical needs (the product) and psychological needs (recognition, validation and understanding).
So there is not really any technique you can use.
Everybody knows pain. So listen to your own pain when you are alone. Try to understand, validate and recognize this pain! Examine your pain. There is always wisdom in pain. Pain is a gift. Yes, a painful gift, but nevertheless a gift. Your pain can open your heart or it can close it. Your pain can be your wisdom. It is really only up to you. It is your choice.
Here is Lenora and Harry’s story about pain. Harry transcended his pain long ago and here he helps Lenora transcend hers. They both experienced things no one should be dragged through. Through years they were both exposed to some of the worst shit you can expose children to.
Heal The World Through Great Customer Service.
You probably had no idea, but through Exceptional Customer Service you are actually healing the world!
You really are!
You are making people happy when you make them feel accepted and feeling accepted actually heals people! So through Exceptional and Great Customer Service you are making the world a better place!
Imagine yourself as a passionate fighter for a better world moving mankind one small step at a time! Don’t you think customers would feel attracted to that kind of energy?
Always remember that!
It just might be good Karma!
Are you ready to make sure your customers chose you year after year as they chose me year after year for over 20 years?