Have you ever called your own service department, just to see how it would go?
Maybe you should. The first phone call from a customer to the service department is the exact moment that your consumer experience begins—and nowadays, with over 97% of smartphone users constantly texting, it may even begin before that.
I called a service department once, and it was quite the experience—and not in a good way. The employee on the phone answered promptly, then left me on hold for about 15 minutes. So, I hung up, and called back. Another employee answered promptly, but then tried to put me on hold again. I explained that I had already been on hold for a while, and in an exasperated way, the employee gave me an abrupt “we’re very busy over here today”.
Think to yourself: what would you have done in my situation? Would you have thrown the phone across the room, or maybe said some choice words to the employee? Would you have patiently waited, or would you have taken your business someplace else?
If you would be royally pissed off by the way an employee treats you, you should probably make sure your own employees don’t treat your customers that way. Luckily, in this day and age, there are more ways to engage with and delight your customers than making them wait on hold.
Texting is pretty standard nowadays in day-to-day communication. In fact, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, and 97% of those owners use text messaging. Add this to the amount of phone calls received everyday, and you have a pretty solid reason to use texting to communicate with your customers.
Use the tips below to brush up on your basic phone knowledge, and learn how that translates to text messaging etiquette.
Answer The Phone – Respond Promptly
The most basic and most frequently forgotten tip for businesses, this is a real problem for so many service departments. We know, it’s a busy day—but to your customers, they’re busy, too. Picking up the phone promptly (and not making them wait on hold forever) shows your customers you respect their time, and gives a great first impression. Every customer that calls is a potential lead—don’t waste it.
When it comes to texting, the speed factor applies as well. If a customer texts you to ask about progress, to inquire about future repairs, or for any reason really, you should answer as promptly as you can. Texting is quick and easy for most, but paying attention to the messages you receive from customers conveys the same as answering a phone call.
Stay Friendly & Upbeat – Be Kind, and Be Thorough
Another basic customer service tip that’s easy to overlook is staying friendly and kind to your customers. Everyone has their days—sometimes rudeness or bad attitude is a one-time occurrence, but when your customers experience it every time they call or text over, it can be a real problem. Same goes for texting. Although you’re writing a message, it doesn’t exempt you from the basic rules: be kind, be informative, be thorough, and don’t use profanity or harsh words.
Never Abandon a Customer on Hold – Always Follow Up
No one likes being forgotten, and that’s exactly what happens when you’re stuck on hold forever. A good rule of thumb is to never leave a customer on hold for longer than two minutes; if it needs to be longer than that, answer the phone and kindly explain to them that you’ll need to call them back later. With texting, it’s even easier to forget. Just because your customer isn’t waiting on the other end of the phone line doesn’t mean they’re not eagerly waiting your response. Texting gives you a lot more flexibility to respond within the hour or a few hours, rather than in the next two minutes.
When in doubt, just remember this: when you’re not at work, you’re a customer. If you, as a customer, wouldn’t want to be treated a certain way—you probably shouldn’t let your employees, or yourselves, act that way either.