Simply being “the best” is not good enough for companies today. Exuding empathy and considering the feelings of your consumer are just as important as putting out a great product or service.
Mike Sims, founder and owner of ThinkLions, a consultancy for startups, had this to say:
“Great customer service is about making the customer feel satisfied and feel as if they made the right decision when they chose our company to solve their problem. In every customer service case, even when we disagree with a customer’s point of view, we seek to make them feel as if we are on their side and that we are committed to helping them.”
You can have all the right processes and procedures in place, but it’s customer communication skills like empathy, adaptability, attentiveness, and consistency that convert and retain buyers. Training your team to recognize these drivers of human behavior and deliver more personalized consumer experiences can improve your conversion rate by roughly 8%.
Business leaders must prioritize customer communication skills and seek solutions to ensure their teams’ ability to deliver five-star customer service experiences consistently.
Help your teams develop these top 4 customer communication skills
Communicating with empathy is a crucial element to deepening customer engagement. Whether a customer comes to your team with a particular issue or concern, expressing empathy builds trust and a foundation for relating to one another.
Here are examples of how customer support reps can engage in empathic communication:
- Show, don’t tell. Use a personal anecdote to relate, rather than simply saying, “I know how you feel.”
- Listen and ask questions rather than immediately launching into an impersonal canned response.
- Mirror. Clarify the customer’s point of view by reviewing what they’ve communicated: “If I understand correctly . . .”
- Validate a customer’s concerns and affirm the need for a solution.
- Apologize to dissatisfied, distraught, or concerned customers and assure them that you’re there to help.
- Thank customers for their time, patience, and business.
Last but not least, customer support teams need to be authentic to showcase empathy effectively. There’s a reason 83% of consumers say they prefer speaking to live agents over chatbots. It’s not enough to parrot empathetic responses; customers are looking for honest representatives that can speak clearly, avoid jargon or clichés, solve problems proactively, and showcase a human touch.
Christina Khrapach, Head of Customer Support at Grammarly shared her experience in the past year. “Because this period is challenging for most people, I’ve noticed that customers tend to share more about the struggles they’re having. Human touch and empathy are becoming even more important than before the pandemic, so our team has been working on further polishing our responses to make sure they come across as sympathetic and considerate.
Flexible, creative thinking is not just a soft skill that would be nice for employees to have; it’s one of the most sought-after skills on employers’ hiring checklists. Every customer is different, and the ability to handle surprises and shifting customer moods builds a solid foundation for top-notch customer service.
There are several ways to cultivate better adaptability in the workplace:
- Train agents to adapt their communications based on how internal channels interact. They need to identify the differences between a message that requires a quick Slack to a team member and one that merits a formal email to a manager.
- Incorporate role-playing activities during customer service training to expose teams to different scenarios that may arise during a customer exchange.
- Establish a transparent chain of command to help with customer escalations. Clarify which channel to use for immediate assistance and how to best share customer information about the issue, whether it’s detailed snippets from the conversation, a transcript of the entire discussion, screenshots, and/or a recording.
- Encourage teams to talk through unfamiliar problems and ask questions.
- Search for innovative solutions to customer complaints and invite suggestions.
- Adopt new customer support technologies as a competitive advantage.
Attentiveness is a pillar of emotional intelligence. Successful customer support teams are able to set aside distractions and remain fully present during customer interactions.
Customers need to feel understood—especially those who opt for live customer service (versus written communication channels like email or chat). Rather than using canned responses, teams should be encouraged to paraphrase, empathize, and ask open-ended questions.
Here are some ways customer support teams can show their attentiveness:
- Let customers know their inquiry has been received and when to expect a response.
- Enable employees to be attentive by staffing appropriately to allow for prompt response to all customer inquiries.
- Request customer feedback on each interaction to ensure satisfaction.
- Respond clearly and concisely by adhering to a company-specific style guide.
- Reference past customer conversations or purchase history for greater context.
When your support reps carefully consider the customer’s needs and feelings, it leads to creative problem-solving and a satisfying customer experience. While attentiveness is innate to a certain degree, employees can also be trained to enhance these skills. Leading companies adapt to technology and changing customer needs and even use unconventional ways to delight customers to make a lasting impression.
McKinsey once referred to the “3 Cs” of customer satisfaction as “consistency, consistency, consistency.” It can be challenging to sustain an audience, especially with different communication channels to maintain.
Consistency is essential to a company’s ability to effectively brand, track a consumer’s path to purchase, and ensure a cohesive customer journey across platforms. Customers today expect seamless experiences, consistent messaging, and acute attention to detail across all channels.
Consistency is also necessary for creating high-quality communication. To improve the consistency of customer communication, businesses can use a company style guide through Grammarly Business to ensure all messages are clear, concise, and on-brand.
Consistency in describing company products, features, and services creates consumer comfort and trust. Having one or more company style guides to maintain consistent use of language across departments produces a strong brand, no matter which channel a customer is using for engagement.
You can now add up to 50 style guides within a Grammarly Business account to create consistency in communication for various teams. Employees receive immediate, real-world communication training as needed, without managers investing time editing or ongoing meetings.
Janine Anderson, Managing Editor at Zapier, used Grammarly Business to create 159 custom rules that could be applied to more than 30 pieces of content each month:
“Grammarly Business helped us consolidate all of our existing guides into one place, which included suggestions on how to spell and use our branded terms and partner names,” she explained.
Using the style guide feature saved hours of editing and became a guide for internal teams on branded terms, industry language, and customer service ideals.
Strengthen your business with improved customer communication skills
These four fundamental communication skills can boost customer satisfaction, retention, and even referrals when put into practice. Having a solid customer base not only equates to more outstanding sales and profit margins but also fosters an industry-leading reputation that positions your business as a strong brand at the forefront of its market.
Boost your team’s customer communication skills with Grammarly Business. Teams receive real-time support to improve the spelling, grammar, phrasing, and tone of their business communications across email, collaborative platforms, online chats, documents, and more. Contact us to get started today.