Customer service advice from a customer support specialist
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Q&A With Customer Support Aficionado, Devis Mejia: The Important Role Support Plays in SMBs’ Success

Published: | Updated: | By Aimee Thompson

1. How would you define quality customer support?

Customer support is something we are all familiar with--a service we typically experience during our average day (i.e. grabbing coffee, going to the bank, shopping, etc.). At its basic level, customer support is an organization's ability to satisfy its customers’ wants and needs. That being said, quality customer support is much more than satisfying customers. It means constantly and consistently exceeding customer expectations. In order to accomplish this, we must recognize that customer support goes beyond the customers initial contact. It’s a culmination of factors that lead a customer to contact support: Was an order late? Was the service advertisement misleading?

Quality support begins way before a customer reaches out to the company. Ensuring every member of your support team is aware of their role in meeting a customer’s needs is crucial to providing excellent customer service.

 Offering that next level customer service. 💁

2. How is customer support vital to the success of SMBs? 

Customer support can make or break a business, no matter it’s size. We live in an era when online reviews have significantly changed the customer support role to the benefit of the customer. Someone looking to try out a new salon or restaurant will most likely check the internet for reviews. Whether it’s Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. there are so many avenues for customers to review your business that Customer Support can simply not be ignored. In fact, good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. It not only brings you new customers, it also keeps loyal customers coming back therefore increasing your profits.

Oh, you know, just offering kickass customer support because I’m a BOSS 😎

3. What should SMBs keep in mind when offering support to customers?

If you take away anything from this Q&A, let it be this: Good customer support is all about sending customers away happy and satisfied. Businesses that accomplish this develop loyal customers who return time and time again and encourage others to support your business as well.

An unsatisfied customer is more likely to share their experience than a happy one. Keep in mind, for that one unhappy customer, there may be many others that did not feel comfortable enough to reach out and simply chose to take their business elsewhere. Make sure to listen to customer feedback-- who knows how many you may save in the process. 

Listening to my customer’s pain points and finding a solution that meets their needs 🤔

4. What customer support resources and/or tools do you recommend?

Customers must be able to contact you. If you advertise phone support, make sure someone is there to pick up when someone calls. If your budget allows for 24/7 phone support, hire an answering service to help with non-business hours. Alternatively and more cost effective, set up a voicemail informing customers of your business hours and give them the option to leave a message. Make sure to return those calls or risk irate customers. 

Email is another standard way for customers to contact you. Set up a separate email address specifically for support inquiries and make the email address itself professional and indicative of its purpose, for example: [email protected] 

Another resource is to offer forms on your site. Forms are a great way to save time emailing back and forth by collecting the data you need right off the bat. For example, you can set up a refund request form on your site that collects a customer's name, email, phone, order number, and reason for request. Ideally, the person receiving the request will have the details needed to respond promptly and provide the customer with the best solution. You will find that your customers appreciate the speedy response and attentiveness. 

Monitoring the type of questions you receive over time is important. If you have a high volume of questions that are easily answered, set up an FAQ section on your website or establish a Help Center where your customers can go to find answers on their own. This will not only save them the effort of needing to contact you, but will also free up your time to delight other customers. Putting systems in place to meet your customers needs is key to maintaining and growing a loyal customer base. 

Customer Service tools and resources? Check! Wait--where’s my computer...😳

5. When it comes to establishing trusting customer relationships, why is it important to have a badass support team?

Your customer support  team is the face of your company. They are the frontline of communication and can mold a customer’s experience with their skills and quality of service. It’s your businesses approach to customer service that will determine whether a customer chooses to return and continue to do business with you. 

It’s crucial to look at your customer support team as a bridge between your business's interests and your customers. Customers have no problem communicating what is and isn’t working for them,  so it’s important to train your team to identify opportunities for growth and development. Without these, you run the risk of becoming stagnant.

They don’t come more badass than us💪

6. It’s often said that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes, have you found this to be accurate of your own experience in customer support? Can you share an example?

I find this to be absolutely true and believe it’s important to recognize that every failure is an opportunity for discovery and growth. Why didn’t it work? What could we have done different? These are questions we should ask ourselves whenever something goes wrong. 

At POWr, we push code every day in an effort to update and improve our plugins and customer experience. There has been a time or two when an update caused our site to go down resulting in unhappy customers trying to reach us through every channel possible. Early on, when we were a smaller team, we simply yelled across the room to an engineer so they could get us back up and running again. As we have grown locally and globally, we’ve had to put in place a course of action so the first person to hear about or see the outage knows what to do and who to inform. On the customer support side, we communicate serious outages on our social media platforms and have all hands on deck replying to customers and providing updates. 

This course of action is not something we had in place and were prepared with. We learned the hard way that, as a growing team, we must have processes and procedures  in order to handle situations like this. 

Learning from my mistakes. Making better decisions. Goldfish crackers dunked in apple juice--mistake. Goldfish crackers dunked  in chocolate milk--TBD...👩‍🎓

7. What is the best advice you’ve received regarding customer support?

There are a couple pieces of advice I’ve received that I keep in mind on a daily basis. The first is: don’t make promises you can’t keep. Doing so does more harm than you may realize. In most cases, if a customer is reaching out, they are already unhappy. Promising them something and not delivering will not only annoy the customer even more, it also makes your company seem unreliable and tarnishes any possibility of a good relationship. 

The second is: be patient and understanding. As I just mentioned, if a customer is reaching out, they may already be unhappy. Pay attention to your customer and demonstrate that you are listening. Using phrases like, “I understand” or “I’m sorry that happened,” help you convey empathy and humanizes you in their eyes.

I am patience. I only make promises I can keep. 😌

8. If you had to form your own customer support team today, what three qualities would be most important in your potential team? 

Flexible - You know the saying, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get?" Well, the same goes for customer support. Every customer is different and you truly never know what you are going to get. A good representative must be able to adapt to different moods and needs which brings me to my next quality..

Thick Skinned - Not every customer will be happy and it’s important to remember that it’s not personal. They are not mad at you, they are mad at the situation. There are times you may need to say I’m sorry (repeatedly) and accept blame for things that are out of your control. It’s what you do with that feedback that can change a customers stance. 

Eager - If a customer walks into a business looking for a specific product, a good customer support representative would know know the location of that item and tell them where they can find it. An even better representative would show them exactly where it is and offer to help with anything else. It’s this eagerness and effort to go above and beyond that customers notice. This skill can also be applied to a representative's personal career goals. If a customer support representative is checked-out and disinterested in providing quality support, your customers will be the ones to suffer.

Yeah, I embody all of these 🤸‍♀️💪😃

9. What advice do you have for SMBs in the early stages of developing their customer support teams?

Spend time training your staff on your business, product, and how to represent your company. Give them the information and tools they need to make customer-pleasing decisions in a timely and efficient manner. Be flexible. As your business grows, so will your user base and their needs. Make sure to consistently collect feedback so you grow right along with them. 

Soaking up all Devis’ great advice 🐵

10. What is your favorite thing about working in customer support?

I genuinely enjoy helping people and solving problems. To be able to convert an upset customer into a satisfied one gives me such a great feeling of accomplishment. At POWr, we offer a variety of plugins and integrate with so many different platforms that our customers really keep us on our toes. I’ve learned so much during my time here, and it’s a joy to be able to share that knowledge and help POWr customers around the world on a daily basis. 

Yes! I get to help another customer! 😃

Devis is on the Customer Support team at POWr. She works remotely from Brooklyn, NY, where her office mates are her two dogs, Marley and Gia. When she’s not helping customers, she’s working on her web development skills in hopes of becoming a front end engineer.