Five easy tricks to satisfy customers before they ask for help

In an effort to share more stories from more people who’ve done it before, we’re excited to bring you a guest post from Influx. Influx is a complete customer support operation on demand, building teams for eCommerce customer support to answer tickets, chats, and phone calls, 24/7, while regularly training and improving your team. For more stories like this, check out our tips on getting more sales through live chat and cultivating that word of mouth magic.

Most companies focus on getting new customers, making more sales, and being responsive to immediate problems as they arise. It’s an assertive strategy, and quite effective.

What’s more effective, though, and often easiest, is to support your customers while they’re already engaged with your brand. Nurture those relationships, and build a genuine connection — it’s one of the best and most proven ways to boost your business.

Happy customers gain confidence in your company, and they readily spend more. They also generate referrals, which organically brings new customers to your door. And these customers are predisposed to be satisfied with their experience — a win-win.

I set out to find real, simple examples of best practices to support your customers actively, between the new tickets and support emails. Through our own research and interviews from support leaders who continue to stand out and astonish, I broke out five practical opportunities.

Make the online experience outstanding.

Word of mouth — both positive and negative — has always been important to building your brand, but never more so than with today’s social media. The sheer speed and directness of online commentary makes it a massive opportunity to engage your community.

As service expert Gary Vaynerchuck says:

“You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard.(…) Social media gives businesses the tools to do that for the first time in a scalable way.”

When a customer reaches out through social media, they’re already halfway to building a relationship with your company — and you want that relationship to end with a good experience and a boost in sales.

Customers can be the biggest champions for your team, even when they’re initially dissatisfied. According to a study from Edison, a quick and efficient answer to an online complaint increases customer advocacy by a whopping 25%.

Reach out, get answers

We asked Zach Kulas, Director of Global Support at leading freelance start-up 99designs, how he keeps track of customers — and how he keeps them all so satisfied! His secret weapon is NPS.

Zach implements an NPS survey directed to each of his customers, collecting unfiltered information on customer pain points in real time. This “alert system” of sorts helps the team to integrate quick changes into their response strategy, solving problems before they can grow.

“It’s such an asset to our workflow, as it enables us to be proactive in a reactive setting,” Zach shared. “We look forward to receiving both positive reviews as well as constructive ones. The constructive feedback is a huge asset to our product teams, and it also gives us an opportunity to delight those customers.

A lot of the time, customers think no one is reading these comments, and we delight them by reaching out, most of the time within hours, to have a conversation about their experience. And more often than not, we’re able to turn the client into an advocate rather than the opposite.“

An automated NPS system takes charge of issues without any extra team effort: you’ll be automatically notified when the experience is falling short. That means your skills and support strategies have the opportunity to be proactive, getting ahead of scathing reviews or poor performance in the public eye.

You’ll be first to know when the experience pipeline fails, resulting in quicker fixes and happier people.

Minimize work, maximize satisfaction

Can you make things easier? From start to finish, providing your customers with the tools they need to engage with your company can make for an empowering and satisfying experience.

Often, these gestures are small, but the results from customers are big. According to the Customer Contact Council, loyalty and satisfaction are often tied more closely to ease than delight. In a survey of 75,000 customers who’d reached out recently for customer support, the Council found that what made the most serious impact on people was support that reduced their overall efforts.

They just wanted the experience to be easier.

Surprise and delight is always nice, of course, but people really were thrilled by having to do less work. A lot of that work is very basic: providing return shipping labels, for example, or assembly diagrams and labels for complicated parts. Step-by-step video tutorials and robust, ready instructions for common confusion can help, too.

Keep customer needs top of mind, and reap the rewards.

Help customers help themselves

Even if you had a dedicated representative ready to support each and every customer, research would render your efforts unwise: 81% of people prefer to simply find the answers on their own.

Customers will, by and large, attempt to take care of themselves — they’ll seek out solutions before reaching out to a representative, and you can be ready with solid resources.

Embrace this self-sufficient instinct by crafting resources — FAQ’s, information libraries, online tutorials, product guides — that clearly and succinctly answer the most common queries.

Instead of investing entirely in personal interactions, develop rich tools and concise references. It’ll save on time, boost satisfaction, and optimize your spend. According to the Harvard Business Review, “the cost of a do-it-yourself transaction is measured in pennies, while the average cost of a live service interaction (phone, e-mail, or web chat) is more than $7 for a B2C company and more than $13 for a B2B company.”

Of course, you’ll want personal support sometimes, but a bit of smart savings makes everyone happy in the end.

Level up with live chat

When touching on the subject of customer satisfaction, the one tool you shouldn’t gloss over is chat.

According to a report by Zendesk, customers feel 92% satisfied when they use the live chat feature – and for good reason. While the world becomes more and more instant, live chat is there to nurture and convert those immediate conversations.

Bob Ruffolo, CEO of inbound marketing agency IMPACT, lends support to these patterns and customer expectations.

“Today, we expect that when we go online, we’ll get an immediate response, picking up the phone or completing a form and waiting for a response is now considered slow. And in most cases, if your potential customers don’t find what they’re looking for, they will not convert. They may never return to your website, or worse, they may end up on your competitor’s site and buy from them.”

Everything happens faster online, and service is no exception. When we focus on overall customer satisfaction, live chat climbs quickly to the top of our toolbox — it’s simple, direct, and can make an effective and immediate connection.

Zendesk reports that customers feel 92% satisfied when they engage with live chat support. It’s not surprising. In a world that’s ever quicker and more responsive, live chat can spark instant conversations for no-hassle nurturing and rapid-fire conversions.

Bob Ruffolo, CEO of inbound marketing agency IMPACT, speaks to real-time customer expectations:

“Today, we expect that when we go online, we’ll get an immediate response. Picking up the phone or completing a form and waiting for a response is now considered slow. And in most cases, if your potential customers don’t find what they’re looking for, they will not convert. They may never return to your website, or worse, they may end up on your competitor’s site and buy from them.”

Live chat is casual, straightforward, and simple to implement. It allows your team to develop a ready voice, make memorable connections, and support customers on their own terms. It’s hard to say no to that!

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