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The Science—and Art—of Customer Service Conversations

We live in an era when shoppers demand first-rate experiences and every interaction plays a vital role in a company’s success. “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department,” Zappos founder Tony Hsieh once told Fast Company. “It should be the entire company.” And, indeed, the businesses that excel at the game make it a huge part of their corporate culture. Consider the Zappos Zapponians, Bonobos Ninjas, and Apple Genius Bar—which essentially equates tech support staff with Albert Einstein. All of these companies strive to make the connection between consumer and brand a positive, memorable experience. If you want to improve customer relations at your company, here are four ways to raise the bar:

1. Make Each Interaction Personal 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by product and service choices these days. And yet, shoppers recoil from help when confronted with shallow pitches and poorly-scripted talking points. They much prefer conversing with someone who truly understands where they’re coming from. In fact, according to a November 2017 survey conducted by Accenture Interactive, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a brand that recognizes, remembers, and provides them with relevant recommendations.

2. Talk One on One

Want to make a great first impression? Talk like a human being, not a corporation. Using “I” rather than “we”—“I see you’re struggling to fill out this application, can I guide you through it?”—is a real game-changer, according to research conducted by Grant Packard, a marketing professor at Wilfred Laurier University in Ontario. The more a customer service rep uses the word “I, ”Packard’s team learned, the more likely a customer is to increase spending in the 90 days after the interaction. That’s because “I” shows the rep truly cares about the consumer experience and is willing to take personal responsibility for providing assistance.

3. Listen Up

Consumers are quick to make their complaints public these days and they expect prompt replies from brand managers. According to a recent PwC report, 32% would stop doing business with a beloved brand after just one bad experience. That makes it more important than ever to listen to what your customers are saying. When evaluated properly, their feedback can be invaluable, pointing you toward ways to improve user experiences, upgrade product design, and enter new markets.

4. Own the full experience 

Today’s consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, deftly shifting from laptop to cell phone, one sales platform to another, all in the course of making an informed buying decision. When they need help with a purchase or problem, they expect someone to be there at the ready—and quickly, too. That’s no small feat, but there are digital services—SaleMove chief among them—that can help you close deals via live chat, leveraging the latest in screen-sharing, audio, and video technology to clearly explain product and services options. “Consumers are used to customer experiences powered by Apple, Netflix, and Amazon,” says SaleMove co-founder and CEO Dan Michaeli. “Our integration offers digital communication tools that keep up with clients’ rising expectations for digital-centric experiences.”