A lot has been said about customer service in Zimbabwe. Based on the amount of chatter it still attracts not enough has been about it. Let’s look at some practical customer support tools that even the smallest of businesses can employ. Customer support is often looked at as something that happens after a customer has encountered a problem and is looking for recourse but the reality is customer support is something that starts long before a customer has a problem. In fact, a customer encountering the problem is sometimes the very indicator of poor customer support. Before we look at the practical customer support tools let’s understand the different ways customers need support.
Types of interactions
These are the ones we are most familiar with within the customer support discussion. The customer has experienced some sort of problem with the product and they need help. These are the ones that garner the most attention because they are expressed and often quite visibly. You would like to deal with these as quickly as possible and find a resolution that leaves the client feeling good about the business.
These are situations that do not have a visible or large impact on the business. Say for example a customer needs clarification about price, payment method, place and other product details. They may not have a big visible impact but they are the most frequent type of interactions. They are dangerous because a large number of them may never be expressed. People may want to know the price but not everyone who wants to know the price has the time or motivation to enquire. I would hazard a guess and say you only get half of the people who want to get in touch with you, getting in touch, if you’re lucky.
These interactions are all about the bottom line. They often lead to purchase decisions and money for you. In these cases, customers have all the information they want about the product and need your help getting them over the line.
Now that we know our types of interactions let’s look at some practical customer support tips we can employ and which type of interactions they can help us with.
Frequently asked questions are one of the best customer support tools. They are not a be and end-all, many customers will still contact us on questions that are taken care of in Frequently asked questions. That said it does reduce the number of interactions. In many cases, FAQs will take care of your low-level interactions. As mentioned before these are not always brought to your attention, customers tend to have low-level interaction needs when they are contemplating the purchase rather than after a purchase decision has been made.
These do not work for every single situation. They work best in technical products that may present problems in the process of using them. Both software and hardware-based product need troubleshooting guides. They help customers in the process of self-service when they have problems. These are passive tools to dealing with friction interactions, many problems in friction interactions can be solved by using troubleshooting guides.
Use preferred channels
If you’ve dealt with Zimbabwean business this is sure to hit home. Businesses will present themself on multiple platforms but when you have a problem or question you are directed to a specific platform. While I’m sure there are common-sense reasons for this it really doesn’t make sense to have me bound to a specific channel especially if it is not one I appreciate. To add some quality to this, it is also not reasonable to force customers to an inefficient channel of communication when a much more efficient and effective channel is available. My second point is about the effectiveness of the channel and not your choice of a channel in case you may feel the two points contradict.
Websites are great customer support portals when used correctly. In addition to housing your FAQs and troubleshooting guides, they can host a lot more things such as contact information, live chat, user guides, user manuals, instruction videos and more. I’ve come across a lot of people who want websites to sell their products and that is great but you should also consider the website as the primary portal for customer support.
Getting customer support isn’t as hard as Zimbabwean businesses have made it out to be. Using tools such as FAQs and troubleshooting guides will take care of many of your low-level interactions and leave you customer support staff, or you if the business is that small to deal with high level and friction interactions. This means you have more time and resources to sort out these critical interactions.