Make a connection with customers.

Lots of people who write about customer service talk about how important it is to make a connection with the customer. However, the importance of a mutual connection isn’t limited to just a customer and a customer service representative. It applies in relationships, branding, networking, and so much more.

So, how do you make a connection? Good question! I’m not a connection expert, but I am fairly good at finding things to talk about with people (aka small talk), which is the first step to making a connection of some sort.

Find something in common.
Do a quick Google search of the person before you meet them or talk to them. Search for their name on LinkedIn or MySpace and see if you have anything in common, know the same people, or whatever. It’ll provide an excellent starting ground. As a customer service representative, you may not know the person well enough. Check quickly at prior tickets or service calls – chances are they mentioned that their wedding was next week and they couldn’t come in, their kids got sick, or whatever.

Ask a simple follow-up question like “How is your daughter feeling? I saw you mention in your ticket a few weeks ago that she was sick.” That provides an excellent starting point and allows the customer to talk about something.

On the flip side, though, it may not be smart to ask about some questions. Very few customer service representatives will ask how you are doing because chances are the customer will say he or she isn’t doing well because they are having a problem. I don’t think I’d ask “How is your daughter feeling?” because she may not be doing so well. However, it is a matter of at-the-time judgment whether or not to ask a question about a particular subject.

Or talk about something general.
Ask about the weather, ask if the customer he or she has a pet, ask what type of computer they have. Do something while the customer is waiting for something to load that will take. Talk about other products that may fit them or they may be interested in (make it an honest suggestion, not a sales pitch, those the line between the two is thin).

Follow-up on a problem.
Another thing you can do to make sort of a connection and at least make the customer service experience more personal while you are waiting is to follow up on a previous problem. Say something like “Mr. Jones, I saw you emailed us a few weeks ago because your computer’s monitor was flashing. Is that problem resolved now?” If they say “As a matter a fact, it doesn’t really work how I’d like it to.” then you should try and fix the problem or put them in touch with the right person.

Remind customers of renewals and be able to help.
Remind customers if they have something due to renew soon, if their credit card is about to expire, etc. You have them on the phone and you should try and make the experience personal. Be sure you are able to help or you will just frustrate the customer. Imagine this:

CSR: Mr. Jones, your subscription for your service with us expires in two months.
Mr. Jones: Yeah, I forgot about that. Can I renew it with you now?
CSR: Yes, but I will have to transfer you over to billing.
Mr. Jones: Nevermind. I don’t want to do that.
Empowering employees is extremely important in customer service, so make sure they are able to and have the tools to do what you are asking them to. Making a connection is not always possible, but there is always something to talk about to make the call productive and make it so ultimately, the customer doesn’t have to call back.

A sidenote.
As a customer service representative trying to make a connection, you likely have to be good at multi-tasking. Most times customer service representatives have something else to do while waiting for something to load or re-install like adding notes, etc. Most good customer service representatives are good multi-taskers, but trying to make and then having a conversation while doing something else that can be complicated is tough.

There is a lot to learn in a customer’s history with your company. Subsequently, there is plenty to talk about, so make the time you have with them on the phone count and make conversation, and try to make a connection.

One Response to “Make a connection with customers.”

  1. The Well Intentioned Loudmouth said:

    Oct 14, 06 at 6:01 pm

    A Note on Asking me about the Weather……

    Great weather we are having, isn’t it? or Can’t wait for the sunshine. I am not really one for small talk about the weather. But, sometimes I wonder if talking about the weather is really small talk. It’s fine if…