Nine techniques to keep customer support conversations productive and positive

Dealing with conflict is no easy feat, especially when it comes from a disgruntled customer. Whether it’s trouble finding information on your website or frustration with a particular product or service, any problem can turn into a major conflict if not handled right from the start.

For customer support professionals, keeping the tone of conversations with customers productive and positive can go a long way in preventing situations from escalating. To help you achieve this, a panel of Council for Young Entrepreneurs experts each share their best advice for keeping customer support conversations positive and explain why these tips work so well.

1. Be thankful for their support

Always remember that customers are supporters of your product and we should be thankful that they trusted our products in the first place, among millions of other options. Keeping this in mind will help you really care about them and pay attention to their needs. In turn, customers will appreciate this and work productively with you to ease their concerns. † Lianxin He GrandLine Technologies

2. Mirror the customer’s feelings

When speaking with clients, I’ve found it’s best to mirror the client’s feelings. If they are mad at your service, you are mad too. If they are happy with your service, so are you. It’s hard to argue with someone who agrees with you. When dealing with a customer complaint, chances are you’re not happy they didn’t have a great experience too, so it comes across as authentic and allows you to chart a path forward. † Alex Chamberlain EasyLiving Home Care

3. Follow on

Always follow what you said you would do. Remember, they hire you for a service and, whatever that service is, customer service should be their top priority. If a project is due on the 15th, I communicate with them as early as the first day of the month and copy everyone important to keep that information connected. This will help resolve the “I didn’t understand” or “You didn’t tell me” scenario. It also shows the customer that you are on top of it and really care. When the going gets tough, they’ll remember who took care of them. † David Chen GTIF capital

4. Provide a human experience

The reason customers seeking support are frustrated is because most support services are designed to feel and sound robotic, leaving little room for actual customer service. Moving away from this trend and providing more human interaction can help conversations stay productive and positive. The easiest way is to ask open-ended questions and give the customer more information and a sense of being heard. It also gives you a chance to better understand the problem and find a solution. Some examples of open-ended questions you can include in your customer service include “What happened?”, “What were you trying to do?”, “How did this problem start?” Customer support that shows concern and a desire to provide solutions encourages meaningful conversations and customer confidence. † Tonika Bruce Lead Beautiful, Inc.

5. Speak in the future tense

In training the customer service team, I courageously demonstrate the benefits of speaking consistently in the future tense. This directs the conversation toward problem-solving and minimizes the amount of time spent rephrasing the problem. Ultimately, customers appreciate our eagerness to resolve issues quickly, which increases our service ratings and allows us to close support tickets faster. † Carmine Silano CheerSounds Music

6. Bring a sense of responsibility

Customers want to feel that you want your best and are a true collaborative partner in completing the service they hired you to do. When there is tension, bring a sense of responsibility into the conversation, lead with what you could have done better, and always have solutions ready to propose to your customer when you go to support conversations. † Nic Weinfeld five to sixty

7. Go straight to the problem

To keep support calls productive, it’s important to get straight to the customer’s issue. The less time it takes to solve their problem, the better. Customers can easily become frustrated when they encounter problems, so patience is essential to good customer service. Determine the problem from the beginning so that you can take the necessary steps to find a solution. † Stephanie Wells Formidable shapes

8. Throw away the script

All a customer service representative needs to do to be productive and positive is toss out the script. I can always see when a representative tells me the ‘policy script’. I hate it to the point of punishing them. I know that customer support representatives have a book of guidelines, possible answers to customer problems, and protocols. Still, they can understand those things and then use their creative minds to help customers. I’ve had customer service reps who strictly adhered to the script and I’ve also had those who went off the beaten path to come up with a creative solution to my problem. You can guess my response to each. Sometimes creative solutions are not scripted. † Baruch Labunskic Rank Safe

9. Focus on Active, Empathetic Listening

Speak less and listen more. When you provoke responses and reserve feedback until it’s needed, you’ll often find that the solution is less costly to your business as a whole. Usually, a dissatisfied customer just wants to be heard. † Andrew Schrage Money Crashers Personal Finance