Customer Support

The Psychology of Great Customer Support

The Psychology of Great Customer Support

When it comes to support, no matter which side of the fence you are on, the ordeal can be exhausting and frustrating. No matter how well you express your troubles or meticulous explanations, sometimes the other party just doesn’t get it.

Whoever you are in this situation, I understand how you feel. With a background in Psychology, and hands-on experience in inside sales, I joined CareGuide’s Customer Support team to apply what I’ve learned so far and continue learning about what makes people tick.

Here’s what psychology has taught me about customer support:

Have Empathy, Not Sympathy!

Customer Support 101

Before you dive into solving a problem, having the right mindset is key and in order to get in the right head space you have to be empathetic. More often than not, people confuse empathy with sympathy, unknowingly using the two terms interchangeably. To explain briefly, empathy is when you put yourself in another person’s shoes and analyze the situation from their perspective. Whereas, sympathy is merely having feelings of pity.

With our deeply ingrained biases, perceptions, opinions and beliefs coloring our worldview, being able to view a situation from another’s frame of reference is an art in itself. It takes years of practice to cultivate this skill and even psychologists often struggle with this conflicting talent.

Whenever I encounter clashing opinions, I ask myself the following questions:

“How would I want to be treated if this were my problem?”
“Am I able to grasp their concern correctly?”
“How would I as a customer, want to feel when I leave this conversation?”

You Need to Listen and You Need to Listen Well

According to studies, poor communication has been deemed the top reason why couples break up. Remember when in Friends, Ross and Rachel decide to go on a break? Yep, it all came down to a lack of communication and understanding.

Most people listen to reply, rather than listening to understand. I believe this is what makes for a poor customer experience is trying to share all the information we have all at once. There’s so much to say about our products and services, how we can make a difference, how we are better than our competitors!

To be an effective listener, let the customer finish talking. Give them verbal/non-verbal cues (saying “ok”, “hmm”, nodding you head, maintaining eye contact) to let them know that you are present and all ears. Try to analyze what they’ve said before you actually start solving the problem.

The world would be a better place if we are all better at active listening. At least for Ross and Rachel...

Ask the Right Questions

I remember professors telling us in class that there’s no such thing as a wrong question, to encourage class participation. While I agree with that statement, I still feel that it can be reframed for a more effective discussion. “There are no wrong questions as long as you are engaged in critical thinking”. Of course you want to ask as many questions as you can to truly understand the customer’s pain points. But at the same time you don’t want to ask them trivial things, leaving them confused and irritated.

A good tip is to ask them a few open ended questions to elicit elaborate details about the problem rather than asking a lot of closed ended questions leaving you with little information.

To sum it all up, good communication in customer support is like a Cha Cha dance. You need to be in sync with your customer for a smooth flow of information - understand them and make them feel comfortable, be receptive to what they have to say and ask questions to improve their experience.

Customer support is more than just mechanically answering calls. It is the balancing act of showing care for the customer and guiding them through the right processes. And this is exactly what we do at CareGuide.