Humanizing Customer Service

5 min read

Recently I found myself in the midst of a customer service nightmare, which got me thinking about just how important it is for customer service teams to go the extra mile for a dissatisfied customer.  And even more so how humanizing customer service is crucial in those scenarios.

The transaction started off normal – after shopping I purchased my items and eagerly awaited their arrival. However, once the package arrived I was quite disappointed to find I’d been shipped the wrong item.

“No worries, things happen”, I thought. I’d just contact customer service, get this sorted and soon enough I’d have my package. Easy enough, right? To make a long story short, I was very wrong.

There were many negatives to my encounter with this specific customer service team but the thing that stuck out most was that it felt like no one was listening to me. Instead I was met with robotic responses and many lingering questions. Talk about frustrating.

So, what’s the point of this story? If I’d been treated like a human instead of a nuisance, I may still be a customer today. That being said, we put together an overview of just how beneficial adding a human touch to your service can be to your business and a few simple things you can implement.

Without Trust There Are No Transactions

People want to feel understood and like they can trust you – especially when there’s money involved.  Which is why humanizing customer service is crucial. It helps show customers you value them and that can make all the difference in cultivating trust and loyalty.

In this example, had my problem been acknowledged and I’d been issued an apology, the dilemma could’ve been easily solved. However, that was far from the case. If you can believe it, I actually received no response (to multiple emails and calls) from the customer service team at all. It wasn’t until I escalated things with a PayPal dispute did someone try to reach out to me.

While I had tried to give this beauty company the benefit of the doubt, it was at about this point in the month long debacle to receive a refund that all trust was lost on my end. My intuitive voice was screaming, ‘SHADY!’ and, as you can imagine, I don’t plan on ever shopping there again.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who’s turned their back on a business due to a bad customer service experience. An American Express survey found 7 out of 10 people said they’re more likely to spend money with companies who provide quality customer service. And another stated 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Meaning you literally can’t afford not to give the best service possible.

Make Your Customers Feel Acknowledged

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it, “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. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob’s shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren’t your customers wish they were.”

At the very least, acknowledging your customers is about making them feel like they’re doing business with an actual human, not just a business. They want to know they aren’t just a transaction.

One of the best ways of humanizing customer service and to make people feel acknowledged is to teach your team how to add a touch of personalization to their customer interactions. This could be as simple as:

• Calling a customer by their name
• Showing awareness about the details of their order
• Offering personalized recommendations
• Rewarding them for their business.

This personalization can be a defining factor in whether a customer returns or not. Afterall, emotions drive decision and 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. These simple but at times forgotten acts help to strengthen trust and loyalty by creating a sense of familiarity and comfort with your company as a whole.

Get Rid Of The Scripts

Personalization is a great start of humanizing customer service, but listening to each customer as an individual and responding accordingly will put you ahead of the game. In my story, I mentioned how I felt like no one was hearing me out and I was met with robotic responses which left me feeling frustrated. You know the kind that goes something like, “We’re sorry for your inconvenience.” yet offers no solution.

Unfortunately, we’ve all probably had an experience where it felt the customer service agent was just reciting off a script and not truly listening to our issue. According to a report by Harris Interactive, consumers said customer service agents failed to answer their questions 50% of the time. Shocking, we know.

On the other hand, I’ve also encountered some really great service reps. What set them apart, as you can probably guess, was the fact that they treated our interaction as a conversation. They didn’t seem frustrated I was contacting them, they greet me with a friendly tone, acknowledged my problem and made sure to let me know that they were available should I have any other issues.

These are the experiences that stand out. Nothing crazy, just assurance that I mattered as a customer to them in the simplest ways, bits of humanizing customer service.  The bottom line here is that there’s really no substitute for basic human connection in your team’s service. Script guidelines can be helpful when training, but your team should not be using canned responses to solve all of your customer’s issues.

Treat Your Employees As You Would Your Customers

As the saying goes, treat people how you’d like to be treated. Or in this case, treat your employees just like you would your customers. It might sound obvious but apparently, only 61% of employees worldwide said they feel engaged and satisfied at their jobs.

Your employees are the frontline of your customer service team and their well being matters just as much as your customers. They are constantly interacting with customers and are often able to provide feedback or offer suggestions on how to improve the customer experience. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, it’s an act that will help strengthen your company and customer relationships that much more.

But don’t stop there. Find out how your employees feel about your business too. Using Net Promoter Score to measure employee happiness is a great way to dig deeper into your team’s thoughts on your organization. Keep in mind, it’s crucial to keep NPS surveys anonymous so that employees feel safe disclosing truthful information. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: engaged, satisfied employees work harder and are better at interacting with customers.

You can get started understanding your employees better with NPS by Nicereply

Additionally, offering professional development and mentoring them on how to provide the best service they can helps to motivate employees professionally. This motivation and enthusiasm for your brand, strengthens the team and shines through into customer interactions. And there’s nothing better than happy customers and employees.

Humanizing Customer Service Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

At the end of the day, humanizing customer service isn’t rocket science. It comes down to walking in another’s shoes and remember on the other end of that screen, phone line or desk is another person. Simple gestures go a long way and the more appreciated a customer feels the more likely they’ll be back again and maybe even tell a friend or two how great their experience was. A win-win for everyone!

For more on this topic and a great example of a business rocking at giving top of the line, humanized service, check out our interview with the head of customer support at MindValley.

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