Honest Customer Service: How to Deliver It
Your customers don't like being kept in the dark. Honest customer service is difficult to deliver but equally important. It helps in building brand credibility and forms a connection with your customers. As an organization, you should always aim to deliver customer service that is honest and transparent.
You can put a lot of effort and money into building your brand, but if you do not work on your customer service, all can go in vain. Providing good and honest customer service can be tricky. Most businesses believe in keeping the customers in the dark until the issue is resolved—that shouldn’t be your business.
By giving the right scenario to your customers and acknowledging your mistakes (if any), you will show customers that you care. It will help them to trust your brand even more. Honest customer service creates long term value, and that’s what we’re discussing today. Let’s begin understanding why it is essential and how to deliver exemplary service to your customers.
The importance of delivering honest customer service
Your customers will appreciate honesty as they will better understand what is happening and how to manage their expectations accordingly.
Builds a relationship with the customers
Your business will grow only if you have repeat customers, which is possible by building a relationship with them. To create that, you will have to be transparent with them.
When a customer comes to you with an issue, be transparent and honest with them, even if it means accepting your flaws. Customers will acknowledge this type of honesty and appreciate your dedication toward them.
Later, do everything you can to resolve the issue and keep them satisfied. This will help the customers establish trust in your brand and start having a relationship with your brand.
Helps you deliver what you promise
Including honest customer service in your customer handbook will help you to stick to your ideal persona. You can include this in your marketing copy instead of adding jargon you cannot deliver. Avoid using these kinds of jargon and buzzwords in your marketing campaign:
- Excellent Service
- Top-notch Quality
- Best Practices
You can add these ideas if you can define them with the help of data; otherwise, leave them out. Instead, promise to deliver honest customer service that you can achieve quickly. Also, understand that being honest means saying exactly what you will do for your customer instead of promising a bubble of generalities that don’t mean anything to anyone.
Gets you customers
Satisfying customers with honest service will retain them and attract new customers with the power of word of mouth. Existing customers might share positive feedback on your social media platforms and websites, attracting potential customers. You can single-handedly promote being honest with customers on your social media channels, which will help you build brand authenticity.
The key is keeping the customer a top priority when delivering customer service. So, talk to them transparently. If you don’t have the best solution for their requirements, then say it. Avoid selling your service to everyone forcefully.
Also, suggest your basic or premium plans to customers who will benefit from them accordingly. This small practice will build trust for your brand in the market. Customers will trust you with their money and earn a reputation for always keeping the customer at the forefront.
Helps you to attract your ideal client
When you are honest about your product and its service offerings, you can attract your ideal client. The key is to stick to your ideal customer personas.
When you practice saying the right things to customers when they call you with their queries, what happens is that automatically customers that fit your brand will make a purchase.
You might feel that being honest will lose out on sales, but this will be a good thing for your brand in the long run. Suppose you forcefully try to sell a solution to a customer that doesn’t fit. In that case, they might go ahead and buy it, but soon after using the product, they will realize that it does not help them. Hence, eventually, they will not opt for a repeat purchase.
The goal is to close customers that fit your product. You can achieve this only by being honest with clients that inquire about your solution.
After practicing this continuously, you will have repeat customers that benefit from your products or solutions.
These were some of the advantages of offering honest customer service. Let’s look at what customers think if you refrain from providing honest customer service.
Why do customers want to be in the loop?
When customers are kept in the dark:
- They feel frustrated as they do not have a complete brand picture. They also think the brand doesn’t value them enough to tell them the truth.
- Customers do not know what to expect, and they might continue to hoard customer service representatives with quick resolutions. When you fail to deliver that, they will leave a bad review and move on to your competitor.
How will customers feel when you tell them the truth, even when it’s terrible?
Most companies have a natural impulse to hide the bad news from the customer but think about this, what happens when you can’t make it right and have to break the bad news in front of frustrated customers waiting for a resolution for days?
Breaking the bad news early is good because:
- Customers are intelligent and considerate. They understand that problems arise and can handle bad news as long as you are clear about the solution you will offer to resolve it.
- Customers will also wait patiently until the issue is resolved because you already told them about it in advance.
- It will show them that the brand is truthful and will make them happy.
How to show honesty in Customer Service?
What better way to learn how to deliver honest customer service than by looking at an example? A lot of companies have offered exceptional customer service to their clients. Here are two of them for you to learn from:
The founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, said, “Zappos is a customer service company that happens to sell shoes.” Their primary focus is on customer service, and they have won the hearts of their customers because of it.
Some of their examples are:
1. Once, a customer posted about a delayed delivery experience in a negative way on social media. Zappos immediately commented on the post and honestly accepted their mistake instead of giving justification to the customer. The brand apologized and offered a $50 coupon.
The customer was still unhappy as the validity of the coupon was 90 days, so the brand went further and offered to apply the coupon to the existing voucher.
Have a look at the conversation here:
2. Zappos does not bind its customer service representatives by specific times or metrics when handling calls. It’s pretty bizarre that on June 11, 2016, a customer service agent stayed on a call with a customer for 10 hours and 43 minutes.
He helped her with various things, but they started talking and felt a connection. Zappos does not encourage its representatives to just make a sale on the call but also make real bonds with the customers.
3. Zappos also has a no-script policy. So, they encourage their agents to be transparent with their customers. They believe their agents do not need a script as they must convey the actual situation to their customers.
They are not only honest with the customers about the situation, but they also talk to them about different topics. For example, they will start a conversation about pets if they hear a dog barking in the background. Zappos goes out of its way to hire customer service representatives to ensure they are honest and friendly.
1. This is one of the most remarkable customer service stories. In 1975, a man drove up to a Nordstrom store in Alaska, asking for a refund of the tires. The brand never sold tires, but the customer service representative gave him a refund. The man told him that he had bought tires from this location, and they had promised him a return any time.
Nordstrom had recently purchased the shop from a tire business. So, they returned the money. This story still leaves customers in awe, and they trust the brand immensely.
2. Another example includes store associates being honest with customers. Once a lady was trying 3-4 pairs of sunglasses, and the customer representative took the time to evaluate which piece looked good on her. She didn’t hesitate to tell her when something was not working for her.
Nordstrom’s top priorities are customer delight, satisfaction, and honest suggestions.
Being honest with your customers will always pay off. Sometimes, customers might face issues because of their mistakes or unforeseen circumstances. So, being direct with them is a good idea. Be very clear on how much time you will take to resolve the issue, as promising one thing and delivering something else can hurt your brand reputation.
Although, it is essential to note that providing honest customer service requires complete organizational buy-in. It would help if you had support from all the departments, like sales, marketing, and operations, to provide exceptional, honest customer service.
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