I’m Colin Waters and I’m the Director of Customer Experience at The Feed. You might know me from my experience at BrüMate, where I was the Associate Director of Customer Experience. In three years, I worked my way up from answering tickets and being on the front line with customers to overseeing the entire customer experience team.
My different roles have shown me the various ways to adapt your customer service to fit your team’s and customer’s needs.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the different types of customer service, support channels, strategies, and philosophies you can offer based on what your company requires.
Customer service is kind of like a sandwich. You’ve got your bread or the necessary foundational elements like a great customer service strategy and philosophy, and then you’ve got your support channels which can be more varied and customizable, like the sandwich fillings.
We’ll start with support channels, which you can take care of first, and move onto the strategies and philosophies of customer service. Let’s get into it!
There are many different support channels out there. But instead of offering them all — which can actually harm your support team in the long run — take a look at your customer service responsibilities, resources, and business needs to figure out which channels make the most sense for you.
Here’s a rundown of the different support channels you can offer and what they’re best used for.
Email is flexible in terms of the type of customer inquiries they’re best for (most of them!) and turnaround time, unlike more instantaneous and short-form support channels like live chat and social media.
Provide email support if…
Social media customer service is fairly new. However, as 26% of people learn about a product through social media, it’s a good idea to follow the trend and use your social media platforms to not only assist new customers, but take note of feedback.
Provide social media support if…
If your main source of traffic comes from your company’s website, using live chat or chatbots can easily capture your customer inquiries and lessen the load for your team. Sometimes, however, chatbots may provide inconsistent answers — that’s when using automation to create templated conversations will be your best option.
Provide live chat, chatbots, and automation if…
A help center (also referred to as a knowledge base) is a collection of self-service resources that customers and employees can use to resolve questions and issues. They can contain FAQs, troubleshooting guides, instruction manuals, video tutorials, and more.
Provide a help center or knowledge base if…
On BrüMate, our Help Center is made with Gorgias. It’s organized in sections like FAQs, shipping, and returns and exchanges which can be modified when our product lineup expands.
Voice support can still be an extremely valuable channel when you want to resolve tricky situations. In fact, 42% of Americans still prefer to resolve customer service issues via phone conversations.
Provide voice support if…
Depending on your goals as a customer service team, there are a few strategies you can choose from. In my experience, employing a mix of strategies allows you to adapt to more types of customers, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.
Let’s look at the four customer service strategies, omnichannel, proactive, self-service, and personalized. I’ll go through what they are, their purpose, how to employ them, and my experience with each strategy at BrüMate.
What is it? Omnichannel customer service is offering support on multiple channels to create a seamless customer service experience.
Purpose: To make your support as accessible as possible, so all customers can reach you from whichever channel they prefer.
How to implement it: Use a helpdesk that can combine support channels.
At BrüMate, we use Gorgias to combine all customer conversations in one tool. Our main channels are email, social media, and live chat.
Using Gorgias as a single source of truth for all of our channels helps to ensure that our customers get consistent responses. And, it means that all messages from a customer, regardless of channel, are visible in one place and can be handled by the same agent.
What is it? Proactive customer service is an approach to customer service that anticipates customer needs and meets customer expectations.
Purpose: To lessen the effort customers need to make to find answers to their questions.
How to implement it: Monitor your most common customer tickets and implement resources in advance to avert future inquiries.
We work closely with our marketing and digital teams to deflect issues as they come in and solve them at the root. For example, based on customer feedback, we might add more details to our product pages, update language at checkout, or highlight specific reviews.
What is it? Self-service support is a customer service approach that empowers customers to independently find solutions to their problems using available resources and tools.
Purpose: To speed up resolution time by allowing customers to find answers on their own without waiting for an agent.
How to implement it: Provide self-service options (like a Help Center, automated responses in chat, or ways to easily track orders) at all customer touchpoints, from pre-sales and product inquiries to order status emails and returns.
On the BrüMate website, we display helpful self-service resources in the Gorgias chat widget so that it’s easy for folks to get the help they’re looking for quickly.
We strategically show links for customers to check order status, get warranty or return information, or learn more about the products that would best fit their lifestyles.
We also leverage this area to highlight new products or call out any major issues at the moment (i.e. preorders, shipping delays, etc.) and drive those back to more detailed help center articles and resources.
What is it? Personalized customer service focuses on personalizing customer interactions.
Purpose: To enhance customer satisfaction by customizing interactions to each customer’s preferences and needs.
How to implement it: When interacting with customers, adjust to their voice, acknowledge their history, and suggest solutions relevant to their preferences.
A majority of the BrüMate customer base is female and, fittingly, the majority of our Customer Experience agents are female as well.. This takes empathy to a new level since our team knows exactly what our customers are going through, whether they’re a mom of three or a college student. We’re also big brand ambassadors which helps make the connection more individualized.
What are your priorities when it comes to customer service? Do you prioritize speed? Or would you rather go slow and build out from there?
The way you approach customer service will dictate the overall customer experience. Like customer service strategies, your team can follow more than one philosophy. But make sure to pick one philosophy as your north star to create a clear path towards your goals.
Below are four customer service philosophies that can help establish brand loyalty.
Since BrüMate’s CX team is still pretty small, our core philosophy is to build a strong foundation. Delivering good customer service starts with making sure you’ve got all your bases covered, so you can prevent headaches along the way. Make it easy for the customer to find you early in their experience and that CX is a valuable resource along any point in their journey.
When I’m onboarding new agents, I want them to take their time learning our process. For instance, our team is very particular with naming conventions for ticket tags and Macros. While some will find it tedious, the upside is anybody could come in — agent or not — and start answering tickets without too much guidance.
As a customer service representative, it’s easy to realize that the customer is not always right. Products wear down over time, delays happen, and unpredictable changes come up. The goal is to prepare your team to handle difficult situations that still align with your brand’s values.
For example, I’ve had to deal with a customer being irritated because we couldn’t cancel an order a few hours after it was placed. From their point of view, cancellations should be a given. They were unaware of the complex behind-the-scenes process and that our team will start fulfilling an order immediately after it is placed.
We started educating customers on our order fulfillment process and giving them insight on the reason the cancellation was no longer available. Fortunately, the context allowed them to cool down and forgive the inconvenience. We also provided them with options once the item was delivered.
Automation is handy for handling smaller customer hiccups. It’s important to note, though, that the best customer service balances automation with human touch.
When customers reach out to the BrüMate support team, we try our best to keep them with the same agent until their ticket is resolved. This way, their experience with BrüMate is tied to a personal connection. On occasion, I have a few customers who I prefer to work directly with to resolve their issue to ensure they are satisfied with their experience. They are even willing to wait until I’ve returned from vacation due to this level of personalized touch.
The concept of "surprise and delight" is a philosophy that makes the customer experience unexpected but delightful. This can come in the form of exceptional, personal customer service (like at BrüMate!) or through gifts and discounts.
Our customer support team at BrüMate plays a pivotal role in building strong relationships. We like to turn the perception of customer service upside down and give customers a pleasant experience. It's an amazing thing to hear when customers mention our agents by name because we've gone above and beyond to build a connection with them.
Many people think of customer service teams as a way to resolve problems. I see our team as a marketing and revenue driving machine that can take it a step further by taking a sales approach. This means support’s main goals are to divert unsatisfied customers by using methods of upselling and cross-selling.
Your team should be experts and help close orders. Incentive your team to be one part customer service and sales. I guarantee you’ll see results!
Gorgias makes multitasking look like a breeze. Its simple user interface makes it easy for new and experienced agents to use. You can speak to multiple customers at one time across different channels and integrate with ecommerce tools like Shopify, Affirm, and Yotpo without leaving the window.
Take a look at what Gorgias has helped some of my other favorite CX brands do:
If you’re ready to join me and these other amazing companies using Gorgias, book a demo today.