We all know that customer service within any industry is important and an undeniable part of the entire customer experience. But it’s not just something you should work on out of benevolence (although that’s the best place to start); it’s also good business. In fact, studies have found that even a moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues. That’s huge.
But if you want to improve your customer experience, you might be wondering what makes good customer service. There are some aspects of customer care, like responsiveness and kindness, that most people would agree on, but others aren’t so cut and dried. Consider which you would consider most important: A customer support representative’s knowledge of your company and product? Or their knowledge of your customers’ country and culture?
Here’s what we’ve learned.
Company knowledge vs. cultural affinity
Let’s consider an example. A customer calls your customer care team to complain about your product that has malfunctioned. In scenario A, your customer service agent is incredibly well-versed in product knowledge, as well as your company’s processes and protocols. They might be able to walk this customer through an array of troubleshooting techniques, reflect your brand image well and route the complaint through the proper channels, but they fall short of making a connection with the customer as they are not able to catch cultural and language nuisances during their interactions with customers.
In scenario B, let’s say your agent not only speaks the same language as the customer who called but also is extremely culturally aware. They might handle the situation very well from an interpersonal perspective, which will likely be a nice bonus to the customer, but they could still end up with an unhappy customer if they’re missing some product intelligence and company alignment.
This is just one hypothetical example, but it’s obvious that both company knowledge and cultural affinity are key to what makes good customer service.
Can you have the best of both worlds?
The problem is that many businesses find that having agents that achieve both is not always an accessible option. You may not be able to have a customer service staff that deeply understands the product and your company, and also is fluent in your customers’ cultural nuances. But – connection and consistency are the real goldmines underneath it all. And where this all starts is with training.
Some global companies leave customer service training up to the individual branches in each country, but this almost always leaves considerable gaps and a lack of consistency. Instead, you need to make sure every single agent of yours is being trained thoroughly in your products, your brand and the geographic area they’re serving. The same training should be given to every agent, in every country on every continent. Your teams will, of course, need to adapt or augment the curriculum based on the local language, laws, and cultures, but the umbrella training must be consistent in order to build a top tier customer care team.
As far as cultural affinity is concerned, the whole point of it is to make sure your agents can establish a connection with your customers. You don’t want any misunderstandings to get in the way of positive customer interaction, so this comes back to your training, too. Ensure that all of your agents, across the board, have at least some level of training in the cultures of the areas they may be serving. As long as they have baseline tools to navigate regional differences, they should be able to avoid alienating customers and forge important connections.
At Conectys, we always strive for our customer service agents to be all-in on our customers’ brands, products, and company cultures, while simultaneously understanding the cultures of the regions they serve. But we do our part in equipping them for this through in-depth, consistent and ongoing training.
If you’d like help building a customer support team that can offer consistency and connection to your customers, please contact us to learn more.