Operations Management

How to Improve the First Contact of Customers with Your Customer Service

Jenny Dempsey 3 min read Download as PDF
How to Improve the First Contact of Customers with Your Customer Service

How many steps does it take for your customer to reach the customer support team on your website? Depending on how many steps, they’ll eventually land on your customer “welcome mat”, eagerly knocking on the door with their questions.

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Stop and think of your last visit to a company website to submit a question you had about a product or service. Was it a frustrating experience to find the “Contact Us” form? Did this company offer you any self-help options through a knowledge base? Or perhaps, you found, after much searching, there was no page dedicated to customer service at all?

A year ago, I wish someone would have told me that while making yourself available and being friendly to every customer is a beautiful and necessary thing, it’s not all there is when it comes to building a customer service landing page with self-help options.

Here’s why:

My Initial Thinking A Year Ago: “Let’s make ourselves more available to customers and answer every single question with a smile!

Allllll the Customer’s Thinking: “Let’s send thousands of emails to a 2 ½ person team to answer, so many that they cannot handle all of them, which will result in long wait times, low CSAT and burnt out agents.”

Since it’s not all about making yourself available and being friendly, you have to be prepared for the large queue without losing that smile.

Here are a few things to consider that I have learned along the way:

Support your customer service team

Your customer service team comes first. Your team is #1. Treat your agents well and they will treat their customers well. There is SO much more to say on that topic, but I’ll leave it basic for now. And remember, if you’re not staffed to handle gobs of customers, do not set expectations with your customers that you will handle all of their questions within an hour. Take time to be realistic about defining your Service Level Agreement (SLA) with customers but make sure you also set the right tone with your customer service team that has to actually answer all of the customer questions. That leads me to the next consideration that I have learned.

Empower customers through self-help

Give the customer a break - if they could find their answer without having to ask anyone and go on their merry way, they would. While self-help tools may seem like you’re imposing more hoops on customers to reach you, develop systems that actually guide people to answers before having to reach out. Include engaging videos, tutorials, short articles, checklists or pictures to assist your customer with the proper steps to answer their question without them having to contact customer support. And, keep the knowledge base up to date with accurate information. Nonetheless, that leads me to my last consideration that I have (sadly) learned along the way.

Keep it short and to the point

I am sorry to be so forward, but it’s true, your customers do not have time to read. They want information presented in short bursts. They want to engage with the material, find their answer and move on. If you have details on your landing page that state what your team can and cannot assist with, the customer will not care - they’ll still write in demanding assistance on that topic. While you can guide them to answers, as hand holding is a great opportunity to build relationships with customers, it could have been solved with a more productive self-help system.

To sum it up

Your customer care team is in the trenches, helping customers and ultimately, the happier your customer service agents are, the happier the customers will be. They are your powerhouse - use them wisely. Self-help options are only as good as the help they provide. If your knowledge base is full of questions that no one asks, what good will that do? And remember, in the end, no customer actually wants to read any lengthy article in a knowledge base. Creative writing to engage your customer through self-help channels is going to be your most difficult challenge.

So, perhaps you are working to build a new page or you need to dust off the old welcome mat and revise what you have, I hope these super simple suggestions help you with your plan!

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