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“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” – Lawrence Clark Powell
Customers seek support from a company through a variety of channels. Some may pick up the phone and speak with the service representatives, while others would take the time to write an email to describe their needs. The expectation from customers is that they receive an equally articulate and prompt response from the company. We know that communication is an important and indispensable part of life. The same applies to customer service too. Writing skills in customer support are a critical part of communication.
Every customer service person should be trained and well-versed in these skills. Good writing skills help the service representatives to respond and get their message across with clarity and free from ambiguity. Writing well ensures that there is no occasion for misinterpretation of the message. It is a sure-shot way to reach a larger audience through one single message than it would be possible, through face-to-face and telephone conversations. Companies can use a tool, like interactive decision trees to create troubleshooting guides.
So, why are writing skills in customer support critical? Let’s find out more.
Importance of Writing Skills in Customer Support
Writing skills in customer support need constant upgrading, careful attention, and an eye for detail. One instance of miscommunication could potentially ruin a customer’s relationship for good. Customer support staff must understand the importance of proper grammar, correct spelling, and punctuation. They also need to know the tone to reflect in the written communication they send out. The recipient forms an impression/opinion of the person and the company based on the contents and the manner in which the communication is presented to them. Poorly written messages can form a negative impression in the mind of the reader/customer, which could be hard to change.
It conveys the intended message without errors
Writing skills in customer support are more than writing well. It is about learning to read, re-read, and ensuring that the communication is free from errors. It’s about conveying the exact and intended message. Even with the spelling and grammar checker tools, there are words that could be spelled correctly, but mean something different.
For example, bare and bear – are two words that are pronounced the same way, but have separate meanings. It is imperative, therefore, that customer service staff not only write well but also take the time to meticulously read and check their written communication before sending it out. It could help to show it to a colleague or a manager for the first few instances to ensure clarity. By changing the way your company communicates with customers, you could ensure that good things happen for your business, sustainably.
It creates a lasting relationship with customers
Convenience is the prime responsibility of customer service. Writing clearly and precisely forms a large part of this responsibility. It makes writing skills in customer support an inextricable and indispensable part of a business. Writing correctly is the most important part and anything less should be a ‘zero tolerance’ zone in customer service.
Poorly crafted messages can damage the company’s credibility. It can lead customers to believe that they are dealing with an unprofessional and poorly managed company. Mistakes in communication are interpreted as a lowered capability for the person sending out the message and the company. That is not good publicity for any business. Writing correctly and sending out error-free communication can help the business establish and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with its customers.
Information is precise
Another aspect of writing skills in customer support is that the information contained must be precise and to the point. The support staff must have patience and willingness to read a message sent by a customer before responding. The support agent should formulate a response after understanding what the customer is trying to convey or the clarity they seek from the company.
Reading, therefore, is an inextricable part of writing well. The service agent can write a great response and increase customer satisfaction. The response should restate the need of the customer and formulates a precise, easy-to-understand, and jargon-free message. Professional communication is about writing for the reader’s understanding. It should convey the culture, vision, and commitment of the company to its customers.
Maintain the tone and flow
The responses/messages that customer service agents formulate must have a certain flow, tone, and systematic path. A company should invest in technology that allows proper distribution of communication received from customers amongst all the support staff. It not only distributes the workload but also reduces the wait time for customers. They receive efficient and effective responses at all times.
Writing well and precisely, with fluidity is no mean task. With the high-stress jobs that customer service staff have, it can be tougher. It makes sense, therefore, for a company to separate the roles of its service staff. They need to ensure that they have a team dedicated to sending out written communication. This team should have the time and the skills to write effective communication. It ensures that whatever communication goes out of the company is meticulous, sharp, and precise.
Writing skills should be personalized
Given that written communication is not a direct interaction, robotic and impersonal elements could creep into it. Top writing skills in customer support are about formulating communication that sounds pleasant and personal. It conveys the humane side of the company. Standardized ‘scripts’ and ‘umbrella’ communication cannot strike the right chord with customers.
The communication would be ‘bland’ and uninteresting. It cannot engage customers. Instead, the support staff should have the ‘history’ of the customer in order to write in a manner that is personal and interesting to the specific customer. Some templates can save time and effort. However, avoid using the templates if the customer seems annoyed, and at the point of leaving. A well-crafted communication can actually prevent a customer from leaving, and restore their faith in the company.
Writing skills in live chat
Another area where writing skills in customer support are crucial is in live chat. Live chat is rising in popularity. Research shows steady growth in the percentage of customers who prefer this option. This is because customers expect to receive instant responses to their queries/problems. The service agents managing the live chat should have a thorough knowledge of the company and its offerings. It should be evident through what they write while ‘chatting’ with the customer. This means top-class written communication skills, typing skills, and the ability to gauge the customer’s needs and mood during the chat.
Providing quality service is the responsibility of every company. Good written communication is part of service excellence. A company can create and build a sound rapport, both online and offline with its customers when it conveys empathy, care, commitment, and value to its customers in every way. This is especially true, through the written word. Great writing skills in customer support are perhaps the most underused and undervalued skill that service staff must have. It is all about writing in a way that interests and engages customers while resolving their problems. It’s what customers expect. It gives them the will to stay with and provide more business to a company that makes their lives easier.