The 6 Customer Service Areas You Need to Master

A soccer match wouldn't work with bold strikers and goalies only. You need to strengthen all areas – on and off the field. This goes for customer service too.

For effective support, you need a holistic game plan. Without it, you end up reacting to your customer’s issues haphazardly and lose the chance to actively shape the customer experience. Agents and managers alike require knowledge and competency in multiple areas of customer service.

This post will give you an overview of the critical customer support areas and their main focus points.

Read on to check if your customer strategy is set up for success.

1
Communication Techniques

Communication plays a major role in all departments. But only in customer service are you shoulder to shoulder with your customers. In such an intimate exchange, your words matter, as well as the intention behind them.

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others

Tony Robbins

A positive, empathetic attitude toward customers and people in general is the basis of successful customer communication. From here you can refine the structure of your messages. In our own customer support, we promote the use of two powerful techniques:

Problem - Solution - Benefit. Repeat the problem (“ I see, the package wasn’t delivered to your home address ”). Present the solution with action steps (“ If you go to the profile settings, you can mark your home address as ‘preferred address’ ”). Stress the benefit of that solution (“ Then, all your future orders will be sent right to your home ”).

Feature - Advantage - Benefit. Explain the feature (“ Yes, you can fold the legs of the flipchart ”). Present the advantage (“ That way, it has a handy format to carry around ”). Stress how this advantage applies to the customer’s scenario (“ ...and you can easily take it to your clients ”).

When using techniques like these, consider that the customer is new to your way of doing things, so be detailed in your instructions and explain terms when using company lingo. They will appreciate your effort to be clear and learn about your culture at the same time.

We summarized the most powerful communication techniques so that you can lead the conversation and be smart about your arguments.

2
Channel Competence

Different service channels have different advantages, and subsequently require different skills if you want to master them.

Graphic shows the attributes of different service areas.

Many service agents are expected to handle multiple channels, so knowing how to differentiate content and tone according to the channel will help you excel as a service agent.

Phone:

  • Keep a positive tone of voice during the whole conversation
  • Repeat given details/numbers to avoid misunderstandings
  • Take sufficient notes in the CRM to follow up on later
  • Use active listening to make the customer feel valued

Mail:

  • Organize the email with a clear structure for easy consumption
  • Cover all topics mentioned by the customer
  • Cover topics that might come up as a consequence to avoid a back and forth
  • Attach useful files instead of writing big chunks of text
  • Personalize the template so the customer feels valued

Chat:

  • Use simple language for fluent conversation
  • Send individual thoughts in a separate message to keep it conversational
  • Guide visitors to information on your website to avoid repetition
  • Attach useful files instead of writing big chunks of text

Live chat competence becomes an increasingly important customer service area, as many companies promote their web chat as the first customer contact. While you need to consider common ground rules , chat allows you to directly ask for background information and gives you the chance to research the case without letting the customer wait in line.

We wanted to react to questions faster and more directly. Live chat seemed the most logical way to do that.

Alexander Proske, IT & Product Manager, Statista

Channel competence also includes knowing when it's time to transition from one channel to another. Most companies have guidelines or requirements in that respect. Certain topics might be too urgent or complex for an email. For security reasons (e.g. in banking or insurance industry), a phone call or letter might be required.

3
Customer Success Management

Customer success management is a customer service area apart from the daily hustle and bustle of customer service.

As a success manager, it’s your job to create processes that ensure that your customers receive all the information and resources they need to be successful with your service or product.

Your main tasks may include:

  • Training and leading the service team
  • Leading service feedback sessions to improve customer service standards
  • Developing strategies with clients so they can meet their goals
  • Onboarding and training new clients in the use of products
  • Adjusting the service or product for the customer’s needs
  • Leading meetings between clients and IT professionals

Often the customer service area of success management is confused with account management.

While customer success managers focus on accompanying the customer journey and clearing arising problems, account managers are more concerned with the introduction of new solutions, upselling and developing strong customer relationships with key accounts. Thus, account managers are placed between the areas of customer service and sales.

Customer success is simply ensuring that your customers achieve their desired outcome. Through their interactions with your company. That’s it.

Lincoln Murphy, SaaS customer success expert

Lincoln Murphy, author of the book “ Customer Success ,” shares some interesting thoughts on the difference between customer success management and account management in this video .

4
Customer Retention

Maintaining customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. According to research by Bain&Company , it’s seven times cheaper. So, successful churn management pays off.

In the service area of customer retention, the focus is on identifying behavior characteristics (customer behavior) and negative triggers (external events) that lead to customer churn. With this data, you are able to put practices in place that will target these high risk customer groups and prevent churn.

Looking for better customer relationships?

Test Userlike for free and chat with your customers on your website, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram.

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Unsatisfied customers who complain or write a bad review are one obvious high risk group. With rating platforms, social media and influencers at play, complaint management is a crucial customer service area to prevent collateral damage. Not only are your existing customers at stake, but potential new ones as well.

Within your complaint management you need to define clear guidelines for your customer service team on how to deal with complaints:

  • What do you offer unsatisfied customers in specific situations?
  • How much goodwill can your team members show?
  • Who is responsible for tracking and answering to good and bad online reviews?

Our guide on how to deal with a bad review may help you react cleverly to public criticism and turn things around.

5
Proactive Support

Proactive support as a customer service area is often neglected. But it has great potential for reducing your service costs. The most common form of proactive support is an extensive FAQ page on your website with troubleshooting questions, tutorials and videos.

Besides the initial costs of setting it up, a self-service desk doesn’t require additional payments. Your service team can use this resource for training or sending links and guides to customers to speed up the resolution time.

Proactive support doesn’t stop with your FAQ page. You can proactively invite people to solve their issues within your preferred service channel, such as live chat. For instance, you can set a chat to trigger when a visitor goes back and forth between her shopping cart and your billing page.

Screenshot of proactive mode of Eurowings homepage

Eurowings uses a big banner to invite customers to chat. A casual alternative would be a live chat window opening in the bottom corner.

You are afraid to appear too annoying with proactive support? Relax. According to NICE inContact research , 87% of consumers say that they appreciate being contacted proactively.

List with study results about the attitude about proactive support

6
Quality Management

How do you know that you are doing a good job in your dedicated customer service area? Positive feedback is one thing, translating it into numbers, graphs and KPIs is another. In order to react to trends and find out how satisfied your customers really are, you need to keep an eye on metrics and developments.

You can use the tracking tool of your customer service software, like Talkdesk for phone and Userlike for live chat support. Web-based software also allows you to integrate widely-used tracking tools like Google Analytics or KISSmetrics. You can easily import KPIs like first response time and resolution time.

Besides tracking “hard” numbers, you can also set up polls to ask your customers for what they personally think. The easiest way to track customer satisfaction is with a survey right after a live chat interaction because it’s quick and anonymous. The customer can judge their experience on a scale of 1 to 10 with just a click or leave a personal note in the comment section.

To benefit from personal comments, your quality manager can cluster the comments into categories and derive action points and insights depending on the most repetitive issues and remarks.

This is a handy overview of the most important KPIs to track in your customer service area.

Final Thoughts

All customer service areas come down to one thing: Successfully accompanying and improving the customer experience. Mastering the six introduced customer service areas can upgrade your customer support team from amateur to Champions League.