Customer service is not an easy job. Solving customers’ issues on a daily basis can often come with an unsolicited side of negativity — unhappy customers, complaints, angry emails, sometimes for hours and hours on end. To make matters worse, it’s not necessarily a job with a lot of visibility. In fact, as we’ve read in an article on First Round Review, “if building a company were like planning a wedding, customer service is frequently the second cousin who’s invited when slots open up on the attendee list.”
But at Unbabel, we believe that personalized customer service is the key to good customer experience. In fact, focusing on our customers’ happiness is proving to be one of the best decisions we have ever made.
Ever since the Customer Happiness Team was created almost a year ago, it’s been one of our goals to make sure our type of support was aligned with what we sell and how we sell it. Given that we are selling multilingual solutions to help our clients provide personalized support to their clients, it’s only fair that we do the same.
Turn that frown upside down
We’ve recently come across a situation where a client had an issue on their end that was preventing us from delivering their translations. To make matters worse, all the undelivered jobs were clogging up our platform.
This was a very difficult situation for both parties. On one hand, we were not able to solve the client’s problem right away. And on the other hand, a problem was being created on our end that would affect other clients. In order to prevent that negative impact from spreading, we had to inform the client that the service would have to be temporarily disabled. It was a huge hassle, so we decided to call in our big guns — aka our Tech Team — and jump on a call with the client to try to help them solve the issue as soon as possible.
Within 30 minutes our work had paid off and we were able to find the root cause of the problem: a change had been made on the latest update on the client’s side. From that point on they were able to revert back the changes and the service was restored.
After that, it was clear that this event helped create a bond between us and our client. Not only that, but it gave us the drive to develop a new process to make sure that if a similar issue ever occurred, we would be prepared to monitor their usage and reach out to them right away. A week later, the customer shared that they were very happy with our proactive approach and began providing us with important feedback that is helping us improve our products and services.
Let’s get personal
This is just an example of what we do at Unbabel. On a daily basis, we try to personalize every email that we send out, and when we ask “how was your weekend?”, we genuinely want to know.
Most of the emails we receive are sent by agents and, thanks to that, our Customer Happiness Team has an advantage, because after all, we’re agents too. That means that we have a high level of empathy for the person on the other end of that email. We are able to relate to our clients whenever they come across an issue, which means that we’ll always go above and beyond to make sure we solve any problems as soon as they come up. We all have, at some point, experienced issues that impacted our work and even prevented us from doing our best job, so that is something we like to avoid.
In order to get to know our clients better, we often join calls with our colleagues from the Customer Success Team. We do it not only to help with technical issues, but also to hear the customers’ feedback on our products and service. This is also proving to be great help when it comes to personalizing our support. After all, who doesn’t like to receive an email detailing how their last vacation on a cruise went, even if they’re only emailing you to report a bug in the first place? You would be surprised by how many times we’ve received positive feedback right after an issue was reported, and that’s all because of our swift, personalized approach.
According to a report from Salesforce, customers are extremely likely to switch brands if they feel like they’re being treated like a number. Remember, your customer would rather relate to you as a person other than a faceless company. It’s all about the people.
This all goes to show that personalization is key to good customer support. And it doesn’t take much. Genuinely caring for your customers, listening to them, solving their problems quickly, sharing a laugh or mentioning a personal detail really does go a long way.
Of course, different contexts and people call for different uses of language, and different tones of voice. If you’re addressing a complex issue, or dealing with angry customers, maybe it’s not the right time to crack a few jokes. Always keep in mind who you’re talking to, the channel you’re using, and the topic of the conversation. When things heat up, avoid using negative language, show empathy, and use a professional, polite, and warm tone.
When it comes to aligning your team and making sure that a personal approach to your customer support operations is hardwired into your team culture, there are five things to consider:
1 – Don’t just hire for technical skills, hire for empathy too
Start with hiring people that are aligned with your company’s support vision. Your agents should be empathetic by nature, and have high emotional intelligence, as these are very difficult skills to “teach”. This will help the flow of your communication from the get-go.
2 – Don’t skip the onboarding process
If you do a good job onboarding new hires and have the right materials prepared, such as an internal Knowledge Base, playbooks and guidelines, your agents will have all the tools to be able to support your client and fulfil your vision.
3 – Create macros and templates, but don’t use them
Hear me out, macros and templates are very important as they help you respond faster and in a standardized way, but they also make interactions sound robotic. My suggestion is, create them, but use them as guidelines, always giving it your personal touch in every interaction.
4 – Build trust by being honest with your clients
If you did something wrong, own it and make sure you fix it. If you are always finding excuses your clients will know that you are not being honest and you will be out of the circle of trust.
5 – Reward your colleagues when they go the extra mile
Customer support is one of those jobs where if you’re doing it well, no one gives you a pat in the back, but suddenly, when something bad happens, everyone is looking at you. Create a culture of recognition and support by rewarding your team when they go above and beyond. Share it with your company at All Hands meetings, give them a shout-out on a public Slack channel, or take them to lunch. The smallest of gestures can be highly appreciated.
Sometimes, it’s about the little things. This holiday season, we sent out handwritten cards to all our customers. Sure, our wrists were terribly sore when we finished, but as soon as the emails started pouring in, thanking us for the small gesture, we couldn’t care less about that.
We pride ourselves in building strong relationships with every customer, looking at them as partners rather than just numbers on a screen. As Mafalda, one of our Customer Support Analysts, once pointed out, our customers will be here today, tomorrow, hopefully for a very long time, and issues will inevitably happen. So it’s up to us to nurture that relationship and make sure that, whatever happens along their journey, clients feel valued and taken care of.
We’re in it for the long haul.