Blog
Customer Service Techniques

10 Customer Service Techniques to Improve Satisfaction

15.0
min
-
Tina Donati
-
Nov 28, 2023

Table of contents

Blog
Customer Service Techniques

10 Customer Service Techniques to Improve Satisfaction

min
-
Tina Donati
-
Nov 28, 2023

TL;DR:

  • Key customer service techniques for agents include understanding customer issues, using positive language, thoroughly understanding products, adapting to different communication styles, and setting clear expectations.
  • Key techniques for support leaders include providing agents with enriched customer data, building a library of templates, specializing agents in specific channels or issues, and training the entire organization to be customer-first.
  • Gorgias offers features such as automated responses, self-service options, live chat for pre-sales support, and integrations with other tools to enhance customer service.

Amid the barrage of social media ads, email campaigns, and influencer endorsements that consumers navigate weekly, PWC highlights that 73% of people see customer experience as a pivotal factor in their buying decisions. 

The techniques today’s customer service teams use are the foundation for those excellent experiences.

Below, learn five key customer service techniques for agents and four for CS leaders.

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9 customer service techniques for agents, leads, and managers

Here are five essential techniques for agents to provide great customer service.

Effective techniques for agents to enhance customer service

To deliver good customer service, agents should first aim to understand customers’ issues at the beginning of each interaction. Then, they can leverage other tactics like reframing statements and setting clear expectations.

1) Get an understanding of the issue before you start the interaction

Every customer service encounter is unique and should be approached with a fresh perspective. Here’s how to make sure you understand the customer’s issue before diving into problem-solving mode:

  • Active listening: Context is key. Start every conversation by allowing the customer to feel heard by giving them the space to fully express their concerns before making any recommendations.
  • Review previous interactions: Skim past customer interactions to gain context. Tools like Gorgias streamline this process by integrating data across multiple channels, offering a comprehensive customer history at a glance.
  • Ask clarifying questions: Politely ask for more details if the customer’s problem isn’t immediately clear.
  • Avoid assumptions: Never assume you know the issue before the customer fully explains it, even if it seems familiar. 
  • Empathy: Demonstrate understanding and concern for the customer’s issue to empathize with them.

2) Maintain a positive and uplifting tone in your communication

The words we choose in customer service can significantly impact the tone of an interaction. 

Psychology professor Albert Mehrabian conducted insightful research on communication and found a fascinating breakdown: only 7% of a message's meaning is derived from the actual words spoken, while a much larger portion, 38%, is understood through tone. Meanwhile, body language proves to be the most influential factor, accounting for 55% of how the message is interpreted.

Since all customer conversations for ecommerce brands happen via chat, email, or on the phone (not face-to-face), agents can’t rely on body language. This means tone of voice becomes even more important for agents to get right.

How can you maintain positive language? 

1️⃣ ‎First, avoid negative words: “can't,” “won't,” or “don't” can often be reframed in a positive manner. Swap them for phrases like "I understand," "I'm here to help," and "Let's see what we can do," which are much more reassuring to customers.

2️⃣ Second, aim to be solution-oriented. Focus on potential solutions or next steps rather than dwelling on the problem.

3) Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the products or services

What happens when a recent customer sends an email asking about how to fix a broken part from the product they purchased from you, and your agents don’t know enough about it to help?

Or, if your skincare line recently underwent a formula change that your agents get asked about, but they aren’t sure what was changed and how it alters the performance of your products?

Knowledge of the products you’re selling is critical for accurately informing customers and managing their expectations.

💡 ‎Our recommendation: Encourage a culture of sharing by creating feedback loops across the entire organization. The product team should communicate product details and capabilities, marketing teams should share information about customer behavior, and support teams should share the pain points they hear from customers.

Plus, when one agent learns something new about a product, such as an undocumented use case or a common customer complaint, sharing this insight with fellow agents can enrich everyone with deeper product knowledge.

4) Adapt your communication style to suit different customers

Every customer comes with a unique set of expectations and comfort levels, making flexibility in your communication skills a key skill for customer service agents.

Whether you’re talking on the phone or messaging the customer on Instagram, you can match a customer’s preferred style by recognizing customer profiles.

Pay attention to cues that suggest how each customer prefers to interact. Some customers are straight to the point, desiring quick, factual information with minimal fuss. 

Others might appreciate a more personable and reassuring approach, especially if they're dealing with a stressful issue. 

Take it from Deja Jefferson, CX and Consumer Insights Manager at Topicals: “I ensure that customer service provided by Topicals not only exhibits empathy when issues arise but should be seamlessly integrated throughout the entire transaction process. Our priority is to ensure that our customers feel fully supported at every step.”

If you use ‎Gorgias Helpdesk to manage your customer support channels, you’ll easily be able to see historical conversations with customers to give you an idea of their preferred communication style. You can also leverage sentiment detection, a Gorgias feature that automatically detects the tone of voice the customer is using. Using sentiment detection, you can also prioritize support tickets based on customers' urgent needs.

5) Establish clear expectations with customers

Managing customer expectations is a delicate balance. You don’t want to overpromise services, but you also don’t want customers to feel like you aren’t able to help them.

The balance? Be optimistic about solving their issues, but equally crucial not to promise more than can be delivered. Here's how to set realistic expectations:

  • Be transparent: When a resolution might take some time, communicate this to the customer, providing a realistic timeline. It's better for a customer to be pleasantly surprised by an early resolution than frustrated by a late one.
  • Keep commitments achievable: Assure the customer that what you know can be delivered within the set constraints. 
  • Follow up: If you've provided a timeframe, check back in with the customer within this period. If there’s a delay, communicate it promptly—customers will appreciate the update even if it's not the news they were hoping for.
  • Acknowledge limitations: If a request falls outside the scope of what the company can provide or if there are factors beyond your control, it’s better to be upfront about it. Honesty goes a long way in maintaining a respectful and professional relationship with customers.

The truth is, you won't always have the answers customers want to hear. But being clear and honest with them can help them grasp why things are the way they are.

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Techniques for leads and managers

Effective leadership in customer service hinges on empowering agents with the right tools and strategies to excel in their roles. 

Considering that 78% of customers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad customer service experiences, it’s important for your team to be well-equipped for success.

Let’s talk about how to do that.

1) Provide agents with enriched customer data

For customer service teams to excel, they require more than just basic customer information. Leads and managers can empower their teams by providing enriched customer data, leading to more personalized and efficient service.

A helpdesk software will make this easy — if it offers a range of integrations. This is an essential feature to look for because you want your helpdesk to mesh with your existing tech stack. Here’s why: agents need access to data beyond a customer’s name. Integrations are the only way a helpdesk can pull in this additional context.

We’re talking about past orders, historical conversations, engagement info, and conversion metrics into comprehensive customer profiles. This will help agents get a holistic view of the customer, paving the way for tailored interactions. 

Bonus tip: Beyond your helpdesk, share any feedback you hear from customers with the rest of the team. Integrating your helpdesk with a tool like Slack can make this easy, and it’s one way the Love Wellness team actions quickly on the advice from customers:

“We have a channel in Slack dedicated to customer feedback. Dropping in feedback is part of the team’s daily and weekly responsibilities, which helps them get really familiar with all of the content.

“It also allows our team to dissect them and collaborate on how we can improve. You could also schedule recurring feedback share sessions with the Product or Website teams, or even invite them directly into Gorgias (at no extra cost) and create a dedicated view for product feedback, website feedback, and so on.”

—Amanda Kwasniewicz, VP of CX at Love Wellness

2) Create a library of templates to streamline agent responses

Templates are a big help for customer support teams, especially those who are strapped for time (which, let’s be honest, that’s 99% of them). 

Two types to build include:

  • Standard responses for common queries: Develop and include a set of pre-written answers tailored to frequently asked questions and routine issues. This ensures quick, consistent, and accurate responses to customer queries.
  • Scenario-specific templates: Different situations call for different responses. Having templates specifically designed for complaints, product inquiries, returns, and other common scenarios can guide agents to handle each situation with the appropriate tone and information.

Gorgias offers dynamic, reusable answers, so your agents can build a template of canned responses for all your FAQs. These are easily accessible for agents to swiftly locate and use when replying to customers.

If you want some tips on how to craft these templated responses, check out this article with tips for responding to frustrated customers for a good start. 

3) Specialize agents in specific channels or issues

Just as every customer is unique, so too is every communication channel. Providing specialized training for agents in their chosen channels — be it phone, email, social media, or live chat — ensures they are not just familiar but highly skilled in navigating the nuances of these platforms.

But you can take this one step further by encouraging agents to become connoisseurs of specific product lines or types of issues. This deep dive into a particular area enables them to provide not just answers but insights, elevating the customer experience from good to great.

However, remember that specialization doesn’t mean working in silos. It's still crucial for specialized agents to also have a broad understanding across all areas. 

💡 Tip: With Gorgias, you can auto-assign tickets to an agent based on issue or channel. This way, you’re routing tickets to agents who can best help every customer. 

4) Promote a customer-first mindset across the entire organization

A tip that we love from Amanda Kwasniewicz at Love Wellness is the idea that to truly excel in customer service, a customer-first mentality needs to be woven into the very fabric of your organization. 

This goes beyond the customer service department and includes everyone, from the C-suite to the front lines.

She suggests organizing workshops that paint the picture of the crucial role a customer-centric approach plays in every department. These sessions should highlight how each team member's contributions echo in the symphony of customer satisfaction.

“At Love Wellness, we believe that every single team member plays a vital role in creating a haven of care and understanding. That’s why we created an immersive customer experience training program that involves each and every one of us, including the president of the company and even our office manager!” she said.

Read more: Why customer service is important (according to a VP of CX)

Additional resources to support customer service teams

For those who are eager to dive deeper into the world of customer service and sharpen their skills even further, Gorgias offers a treasure trove of resources. 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to refine your expertise, these materials are designed to enhance your understanding and execution of top-tier customer service:

  • Customer Service Terms: A comprehensive glossary to get you fluent in the language of customer service. 
  • Customer Service Phrases: This collection of key phrases can help guide your communication towards more positive and impactful interactions. 
  • Customer Service Skills:An outline of the essential skills every customer service professional should master, for any situation. 
  • Customer Service Tips: A series of actionable tips that can be implemented to improve your customer service delivery immediately.
  • Customer Service Email Templates: Save time and maintain consistency with a variety of templates that cover common customer service scenarios. 

Each of these resources is designed to instruct and inspire your customer service team to exceed expectations and create memorable customer experiences.

Enhance agent support with Gorgias

Exceptional customer service isn't just about the right words; the helpdesk tool you use is equally important to enhance efficiency and deliver exceptional service. 

Gorgias is tailored to provide such support with innovative features that streamline your customer service processes. Let’s review a few in detail:

Automate responses with reusable Macros 

Macros are pre-scripted customer service templates that accelerate response times by using automation to tackle those repetitive but essential customer inquiries that come in droves. Think of them as pre-made customer service scripts

Often called ‘empty-calorie tickets,’ queries like “Where is my order?” don't require personalized responses and can be time-consuming if handled manually. Automating responses to these repetitive questions frees your agents to focus on more complex issues.

Here are some other times when Macros help:

  • Welcome emails: A friendly and informative welcome message can set a positive tone for the customer relationship.
  • Order status updates: For updates on transactions, shipping, and delivery, a Macro can provide customers with the information they need promptly.
  • Refund confirmations: When processing refunds, a clear and courteous Macro can assure customers that their request has been handled.
  • Customer loyalty messages: Keep your loyal customers engaged with updates and rewards information through efficient Macro communication.

Enable customers to find answers themselves

A staggering 88% of customers prefer to find answers independently, according to Statista. This tells us that the modern customer values autonomy, which is why self-service options are key.

Self-service options are resources for customers to get the answers they need without contacting an agent. These include FAQ pages, help centers, chat widgets, and interactive quizzes.

Here’s how each self-service option can benefit you:

  • FAQ page: Centralizes customers’ most commonly asked questions on one page to prevent your inbox from being filled with the same questions.
  • Help center: Larger in scope than an FAQ page or contact center, a Help Center is a database of detailed resources like articles and how-to videos to help customers learn more about your brand and product.
  • Chat: Chat can turn into a self-service option with the implementation of Quick Responses, or preset conversations that can answer customers without a live agent.
  • Interactive quiz: A fun self-service addition to online stores that carry highly specialized products, like skincare, health supplements, and apparel. 

Here’s a great example from BrüMate, which uses a product finder quiz in its customer knowledge base:

Use live chat for pre-sales support

Live chat has become an indispensable tool for connecting with customers in real-time. Some inquiries present a great opportunity to sell a specific product, which Olipop shows here: 

Live chat impact on sales and customer satisfaction is notable: 86% of live chat engagements end with a satisfied customer, and adding live chat to your website has been linked to a 12% improvement in conversions.

Gorgias live chat is designed to integrate seamlessly with the leading platforms for ecommerce customer support. It allows you to manage live chat tickets alongside those from email, phone, and social media, providing a unified interface to serve your online customers more effectively.

Chat campaigns can trigger when certain conditions are met (like visiting/dwelling on a certain page or being a repeat shopper). You can hit these targeted shoppers with personalized product recommendations or provide a unique discount code. 

To sum it up: You're not only addressing customer needs in real-time with live chat but also creating opportunities to influence purchasing decisions positively.

Integrates your helpdesk with the rest of your tech stack

Gorgias boasts a suite of over 100 app integrations, covering every facet of your store's tech stack like CRMs, loyalty tools, ERPs, and more. Some popular choices are Shopify (ecommerce), Okendo (reviews), Yotpo (loyalty rewards and referrals), and Recharge (subscriptions)

This extensive range means that Gorgias can likely connect with whatever tools you use to manage your ecommerce business, creating a streamlined workflow for your customer service agents.

The real win with these integrations? They let your agents get super personal with support. 

When an agent pulls up a ticket, they’re able to see everything they need to know— past buys, loyalty points, you name it. This means they can give spot-on help that feels really tailored to each customer, cutting down on all that back-and-forth and making the whole experience smoother.

“Having quick access to previous order info in the helpdesk is super convenient and helps us turn our support agents into sales people.”

—Ian Anderson, Operations Manager @ mnml

Boost revenue through improved customer satisfaction

When it comes to turning satisfied customers into sales, Gorgias users are living proof of the potential.

Take Kirby Allison, for instance, who saw a 23% uptick in conversions after automating 30% of their customer support tickets. Or consider TUSHY, influencing a whopping 25% of their sales through Gorgias Convert.

These success stories highlight a clear message: customer service strategy isn’t just about problem-solving but about creating opportunities.

Ready to see the difference a proactive customer-first approach can make for your bottom line? Give Gorgias a try.

FAQ’s

How do you deliver excellent customer service?

To deliver excellent customer service, actively listen to customers' needs, demonstrate empathy and understanding, provide timely and accurate solutions, and consistently exceed their expectations. Always prioritize clear communication, ensure deep product or service knowledge, and seek continuous feedback for improvement.

How do you handle an angry customer?

To handle an angry customer, remain calm and empathetic, actively listen to their concerns without interruption, and work diligently to find a solution or offer an alternative. Always prioritize the customer's feelings and needs, and if necessary, escalate the issue to higher management or specialized teams for resolution.

How can customer service techniques improve customer retention?

Customer service techniques can enhance the overall customer experience, fostering trust and satisfaction. By consistently addressing concerns, anticipating needs, and building meaningful relationships, businesses can deepen customer loyalty and directly boost retention rates.

What's the importance of personalizing customer interactions?

Personalizing customer interactions makes customers feel valued and understood, leading to a deeper connection and enhanced trust. Tailored experiences cater to individual preferences and needs, elevating satisfaction and increasing the likelihood of continued loyalty and engagement.

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Alexa Hertel
Senior Editor at Gorgias
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