Customers form an impression of service reps within a matter of seconds, whether they’re meeting a field service technician in person or reporting a problem to a tech support specialist over the phone or online. It’s what your service reps do in those critical early seconds that sets the stage for the rest of your interaction—and for whether you’ll have a positive, neutral or negative defining moment.

A defining moment occurs every time a customer forms a judgment about an employee or the organization. While some defining moments are more important than others, every defining moment affects the customer’s overall experience and either builds—or damages—customer loyalty. The more positive moments you have, the better your customer experience metrics, such as customer satisfaction scores, and the more favorable your word of mouth. Ultimately, all of these benefits of positive customer experiences culminate in higher revenue and greater chances of organizational success.

As your organization considers its customer experience strategy to prepare for economic uncertainty and to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, consider adding these four customer experience best practices that address key aspects of the customer journey.

1. Manage Defining Moments

In the early moments of a call, your service reps set the stage for everything that follows. They must put themselves in their customer’s shoes, so they are in a better position to be empathetic with their customer’s situation. They connect with customers based on skills such as checking, confirming and acknowledging to make sure they understand the customer’s concerns, and they strive to build a rapport that lasts throughout the interaction.

Beyond making an emotional connection, every rep needs to devise a plan to guide each customer’s conversations from opening to closing. Well-trained reps know how to set an agenda, so they can gracefully interrupt customers who stray from addressing the problem at hand and refocus them on problem solving. They also set reasonable expectations for what will happen during each call, projecting a contagious confidence that allows the customer to relax and feel as if their problem is in hands that are fully capable of managing it.

2. Elevate the Customer Experience

After establishing a relationship with the customer, the service rep should next attempt to understand the reason that the customer has contacted them. Service reps who create impact go above and beyond simple expectations of good service; they carefully listen to the customer, so they can identify opportunities to offer new information and solutions that might add unexpected value.

3. Navigate Challenges

In this stage, service reps use root-cause analysis to diagnose and solve customer problems. Reps who are well-versed in their organization’s products and services can position alternatives in a way that encourages customers and preserves the business relationship, even if they have to say no to a customer’s request. They proactively manage expectations, so customers know whether it will take longer than normal to offer a solution. They also know how to stay positive and defuse tensions for customers who are upset and frustrated. And, if they run into a roadblock during their communications, they know how to bounce back.

4. Expand the Relationship

If the service conversation has gone well, it may be possible to transition into a sales conversation. Service reps must have the skills to identify cues that a customer is open to an upsell or cross-sell and then ask targeted questions to unearth additional customer needs. Only then should reps offer an additional product or service targeted to those needs. And, to be most effective, service reps need to be comfortable with transitioning into a selling posture and recognize that selling is an extension of providing good service to their customers.

Service Ready Training Prepares Reps to Deliver More Positive Defining Moments

More than 1 million customer-facing professionals have learned the key skills they need to deliver positive defining moments from our Service Ready suite of customer service training. These courses are based on more than 40 years of experience and teach customer experience best practices that form the bedrock of an effective customer experience strategy.

Contact us to learn more about how Service Ready can lead to more positive defining moments and more lucrative customer relationships for your organization.

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