Friday, February 14, 2020

Provide Support Service Like a Customer

Ecommerce customers having thorny post-purchase problems come away more satisfied when receiving advice from an online user community than from an employee of the seller. This is especially true when the advice fails to promptly solve the problem.
     The researchers at Menlo College, University of New Hampshire, and University of Richmond who initially documented the phenomenon went on to explain why. One reason is the likely amount of product familiarity. Users offering advice do so because of experience both with using the product and with any difficulties mastering how to use the product as a beginner. The firm’s employee might not have this experience and so lack adequate knowledge of what’s gone wrong or overestimate the expertise of the novice user.
     Another reason for greater satisfaction with help from a customer community is the social support in a situation where the customer is feeling frustrated. Often, a number of users will reply to a posted question. The firm’s support generally comes from a single individual. Further, that individual customer service employee may come across as rushed. Related to this, a group effort shows commitment to solving the customer’s problem, and people are more forgiving of other customers than of a firm’s employees when the problem is not solved.
     The researchers validated these explanations by showing how the advice is more satisfying for a customer when a set of employees participate in analyzing the problem and when those employees make clear that they’ve thorough experience with the product. The customer service is being provided by employees who are behaving like customers.
     The same dynamics apply when support is provided over the telephone or with a store visit. Put the customer in touch with someone knowledgeable about the item causing the problem. When you are that person, frame your advice in terms of your actual experiences learning to use the product and then using it. Acknowledge the customer’s frustration. Show patience and empathy.
     Also show respect during necessary handoffs. Online or on the phone, explain any delays as you seek help from a colleague. In the store, walk the customer to the expert. Before letting go, briefly explain the problem. This saves the customer the trouble of repeating themselves. It also proves to the customer that you were listening carefully. In that description of the problem, reflect the trouble for the customer, even if you happen to think the issue is trivial.

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