Marketers, do you regularly work with your Customer Service manager to review what your customer service reps are trained to tell your customers?

  • The most critical conversations occur when the customer is unhappy. Because all the money you spent to acquire that customer is about to evaporate if that customer leaves.
  • Are your customer service reps great at diffusing anger – and turning an unhappy customer into an advocate for you? That should be the goal.

What about having a set of emails your customer service reps can use to reply to customer concerns? You should be the one writing those customer service email templates.

Some of the biggest customer service disasters can occur when customer service reps don’t have guidance about how to respond by email.

When You Have Automatic Recurring Charges, Customer Communication is Critical

When you have automatic renewals, customers need regular communication before the renewal – and they need to be reminded of the benefits of whatever it is they’re renewing.

Never assume your customers remember all your benefits. Some may not be aware of everything your product or service can do for them, and email communications are a great place to send reminders, information on how to take advantage of those benefits, or stories to show how other customers have benefited.

A service provider sent me an email 30 days before an automatic charge, saying, “Your services will renew . . .” but not telling me what those services were. Nor did that email say those services were non-refundable.

There were no emails closer to the automatic charge. Once the charge was made, the company sent me an email saying, “We have charged your card . . .” but without any information about what the charges were specifically for.  A check of their website didn’t identify what a particular $299 charge could be for either; there were no services for $299 on the site.

Seems that no one was paying attention to the timing of the email autoresponders, what the email autoresponders said – or should have said. As a result, this company added to their customer service problem – and lost a customer.

Marketers, this is our problem. We control these email series before a service renews. If you haven’t reviewed yours in a while, it may be time to do it.

I asked for clarification three times – once by replying to a customer service link in the email, and twice by using the customer contact feature on the website. No reply at all. Are you sure someone is monitoring all the ways your customers could contact you?

What if whomever is monitoring those contacts doesn’t know the answer to what the customer is asking? Do they know it’s their job to find out the answer?

So, I ended up having to call the company. By this time, your customer is pretty unhappy (translation: I was fuming mad that I had to continue to follow up just to get a simple question answered.)

When I finally talked to someone, she wasn’t apologetic at all. “Well, the pricing on the website isn’t accurate.” Then how are your customers supposed to know what they’re buying?

Marketers, are you putting your customer service reps at a disadvantage – because they have to answer questions about charges your website doesn’t reflect?

“But what exactly is the $299 for?”  Around and around we went, without a clear answer. So, I had to refer to her website and go through the services one by one. “Is this one included?” I told her I wanted to get a refund, and it was only then that she advised me the service wasn’t refundable.

Let’s see: they sent me one notice 30 days ahead of time about an auto-charge, but no further reminders. The reminders didn’t explain what the charge was for, and it didn’t say the charge was non-refundable. They auto-charged my card with no information about what the charge was for. This is a customer service nightmare (and potentially, a social media disaster) waiting to happen to this company.

Since the rep was so unhelpful, I told her I’m probably going to cancel the service before the next renewal. Her only comment was something like, “Be sure you cancel by X date so you won’t be charged.” Really, doesn’t she have a script to know what to say when her company is about to lose a customer?

Instead, she sent me an email follow-up. But instead of focusing on all the benefits I would continue to receive by staying with the company, she focused on this:

“You mentioned wanting to cancel your subscription before next year.” And she listed the steps I would need to take.

Seems their customer service reps are better at helping their customers leave than they are at knowing how to keep them!

And that is something we as marketers can, and should, get involved in.

Customer service is hard, but as marketers, we can make the reps job easier by:

  1. Ensuring that every customer email communication clearly outlines the benefits customers are enjoying, and the products or services they’ve purchased.
  2. Giving your reps a set of emails they can use that address common concerns. Marketers, you need to get involved here!
  3. Scripting useful answers to common issues, so your reps have the right ammunition to keep customers happy. It may be time to revisit the customer service script options your reps have available.
  4. Advocating for regular customer service training – to continue to give them tools to address the challenges they’re likely to face.
  5. Reviewing typical issues received by email or phone, to ensure there is an email or script answer to address those issues.
  6. Ensuring the website charges for products or services are always up-to-date. Be sure there’s no disconnect between what is set up as an auto-charge and what your website reflects.

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