Customers don’t call for support when everything is great.
They call at their weakest moments. They call when they need help.
When you pick up the support line and hear your customer panicking about an issue that’s affecting their network, trust is like a credibility bank. And your customer is about to make a large withdrawal. Without enough savings, the bond between customer and company will crumble. But not if your customer experience team has the right support philosophy.
Trust and credibility depend on two elements. How do we learn to trust other people? We inspect their language and their actions. Each of us listens to what the other person says, and we watch what they do. Don’t expect to regain trust if you don’t speak the language of a highly specialized industry like information technology or networking. But in a crisis, action is the priority.
Your customer wants a fix as soon as possible. They want the network back up so their boss or their boss’s boss will stop yelling. That environment is volatile. Despite the charged nature of those calls, support teams need to listen and be curious.
Below are four tips to help you regain your customer’s trust while you resolve their support issue.
Assure them that you will make them whole again. Get in it with them. Listen to what the customer is saying. Be curious. Ask questions that clarify what is or isn’t happening. That’s how you get to the core issue and start developing solutions.
Avoid assigning blame. You can’t regain trust when it’s you against your customer. Or you against some other technology or factor that might have caused the problem. It’s especially crucial because the person who calls is often the champion of your product within their organization .
Protect your champion. Even if they may have caused the problem. In escalation calls or incident bridges, we’re not tossing people under the bus. That action goes a long way because now your champion understands that you’re in it with them. Imagine the worst-case scenario: If your champion feels that they are under attack, you run a grave risk of losing your credibility and your No. 1 advocate.
Humble yourself . Regaining trust also requires that your customer experience team demonstrate humility. It’s not always easy. Especially in the heat of the moment when egos, careers, and profits are at stake.
Set aside faults and apply the same sense of urgency, focus, leadership, and proactiveness regardless of the issue. The priority is getting your customers operational as quickly as possible.
And that’s where culture serves as the glue.
Practice your support philosophy
Trust withers if your support philosophy is preached but not practiced. You start by hiring the right people and instilling that philosophy on day one.
Furthermore, sustaining your support culture requires consistency and coaching. Managers and team leaders must act if they see team members drift away from your core approach. It’s bound to happen. But team members need to understand that it’s not acceptable. It’s a teachable moment. And on the best teams, it’s enforced at all levels—not just by senior leadership.
Compounding your trust bank
So, what’s the result of these efforts? Regained trust is a major deposit in your credibility bank with a customer. Done well, those positive experiences will compound. Now that the crisis is behind you, you can identify ways to proactively support your customer and champion. Reflect on what went wrong. Point them to training or resources that may prevent similar situations.
Those regular deposits will boost your loyalty score, which helps your company retain—and attract—customers.
As customer expectations grow, IT and networking companies are hyper-focused on creating positive customer experiences. The technology you sell matters, yes. But so do the people who answer those panicked calls and say, with confidence, “How can we help?”
About the Author
Petrisa Pecnik is the Chief Customer Officer at BlueCat, a leading provider of mission-critical network infrastructure. She and her team help our customers succeed — from data migration to network expansion, professional services and technical support. Each day, she makes time to speak to at least one customer. Before joining BlueCat, she was a Manager of Carrier Network Service Management and Carrier Billing at Blackberry.
Featured image: ©NVB Stocker