It’s very rare for companies, especially SaaS companies, to consistently have great customer service. Most times, you have a great initial experience, then once you’ve been “closed,” it’s almost as if customer service has gone out the window.
Many SaaS companies give off the impression they don’t want you to contact them. You’re usually stuck with a help guide database that never answers questions deeper than the basic FAQs.
Then if you’re brave enough to decide to contact their team for help, you’re met with an automated chatbot that takes you in circles. Usually, your last resort is to send an email to the tiny clickable link at the bottom of their support page and then wait days or weeks for a response.
HubSpot completely flips this SaaS stereotype and puts its customers’ needs first:
- They have a help guide database that is massive. They have diligently created a community that helps each other find answers.
- The chatbot always immediately puts me in touch with a real person.
- Their customer support email response time is one day.
I can honestly say I have never been disappointed with the service I have received. Even if they don’t know the answer, their support team is honest about it and takes action to help us. Our experience with their brand has been so consistent that we actively include their platform in our growth strategy.
From day one, HubSpot has understood that an authentic brand experience that leaves a lasting impression comes down to 3 simple things: Consistent Timing, Consistent Tone and Consistent Truth.
As they say in life, “timing is everything,” —Especially when it comes to customer service. The quicker, the better. In fact, 89% of customers, according to a Zendesk survey, say that a quick response to an initial inquiry is crucial when deciding which company to buy from.
So why is timing so important when it relates to a company’s brand experience and customer service?
- It creates loyalty. A company that responds to inquiries quickly and consistently conveys that the customer is important and their time is valued.
- It stimulates the most powerful form of marketing: word-of-mouth. Quick service creates a strong reputation, making it easy for clients to recommend you as they’re confident you’ll help.
- It drives revenue. Quick service is the tried and tested way to stimulate business growth. The more efficient the experiences you create, the more clients will want to use your business.
These are all great things, but when it comes to timing and your customer experience, you need practical advice on how to actually execute that. So here are 3 practices we use here at Smiledog that have helped us improve our responsiveness to our clients.
It’s best to follow up within 1-2 hours of contact. Letting the client know you’re looking into an issue is equally as important as actually fixing the problem. Many clients simply want the weight lifted off their shoulders knowing that you are handling the situation..
Ask Clarifying Questions
Clarifying questions are an excellent way to ensure that you have understood the true problem, and they help your team get to the point and resolve the issue faster. Aim for 1-3 in your initial follow-up that can summarize the entirety of the problem. More often than not, asking those questions will help create your team’s action plan to solve the issue.
Give An Accurate Timeline
Clients want to know when the issue will be resolved. Give them a timeline and stick to it. Scale the timeline based on the scope of the issue. Most people are quite understanding if you’ve made the initial effort to respond promptly to their original request.
Timing is getting to the client’s door before anyone else, and tone is what makes them open it. So let’s jump into why tone is the next step in creating a great first impression that will last.
Have you ever called a small business and someone answers the phone with something like “Yeah, what?” or “Can I help you?” and you immediately go:
That’s how quickly tone can cost you everything in your business. Why is tone so important in creating a great first impression? It shapes the customer’s view of your empathy.
According to Zendesk, 66% of customers say they are more loyal to brands that show themselves as empathetic. One of the most important aspects of empathy is your tone of voice. A warm and friendly tone creates an inviting atmosphere for the client. It welcomes them into your business and gives the impression you’re happy to be serving them.
How can a small business get its tone right every time? By incorporating empathy into our process to better serve our clients.
Always Smile First
Smile before you do anything, even if you need to force one. Do it before you respond to that email, pick up the phone, or even walk to the front desk. Burt’s Bees conducted a study with Human Connection Scientist Dr. Ali Walker, and their research showed that 94% of their participants agreed that smiling is a sign of support. And that is exactly what you do when creating a great customer experience; you support them.
Being professional is all about high intelligence and low emotion. In a highly emotional state, it can be very easy not to see the problem and only see the person causing you pain. So your natural reaction is to react to them instead of the problem. When you do this, you have lost complete control over your tone and, more often than not, will escalate the situation, making it worse than it really is.
By remaining in a high intelligence state, you have full control over your tone so that you can remain cordial and polite even though you can see or hear a customer getting emotional. It is up to you to take control and bring them back so you can find a solution to their problem.
A Little Extra is Awesome
Doing that little extra is all about following through for the client, and it instills confidence that you will follow through and deliver.
There are plenty of little extras you can do that show you care:
- Saying you’ll follow up within the next 24 hours and actually doing that.
- Letting them know you don’t know, but you’ll find the answer for them.
- Giving them some advice on a different part of their business that has nothing to do with yours.
A ‘little extra’ is an attitude that sets the tone that you care and want them to succeed and builds trust. Trust is the foundation of everything in a single relationship, so be willing to work for it.
An authentic brand experience can only be successful if it is rooted in honesty.
- Because clients are too smart not to see through the bull****.
- Honest interactions with your clients brighten the human side of your business.
- It builds loyalty and trust in your brand.
A lot of small businesses don’t necessarily deceive on purpose but rather accidentally. They over-promise and under-deliver. “No” can be a very powerful word in your business’s growth, and it’s just a matter of when and where you should say it. I have worked in sales for the past 10 years, so I understand that always trying to please new clients and saying “yes” is the easiest way to do that.
We use a couple of tools to create honest first impressions when speaking with new clients for our business.
Clearly Defined Sow (Scope Of Work)
A well-defined scope of work has 3 areas:
- Yes work: The work you specialize in and can confidently provide
- No work: The work you do not touch, as you’ve learned from the past, is not your focus and simply not what you do.
- Maybe work: This is work you don’t commit to without a deeper understanding. It is also the solution to the no work. This is where you can provide an “instead” solution to something you say no to. This brings it into your scope and allows you to explore it further before fully committing.
Give Without The Expectation Of Receiving
Sales is really about education more than anything else; sometimes, clients simply don’t need your service or aren’t ready for it.
Be honest with them about it and offer some guidance on what might work for them at this point, even if it doesn’t mean you will convert them.
From my experience with people in sales, I always gravitate more towards the people who want to help my problem vs. forcing their solution onto my problem.
Consistency in timing, tone, and truth is what holds everything together. There really is no point in building your brand experience if you don’t plan on being consistent with it.
It’s what allows you to actually build the experience you want to create. Nothing can be built on ‘sometimes’ or ‘occasionally.’
The most adored brands are those that consistently replicate the same level of service throughout their entire organization and always put the customer first. If you’re looking for a starting point in helping create that experience regularly, our virtual reception service might be able to help; find out more here!