“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 simply pick up the phone and speak with the service representatives, while others would take the time to write an email to describe completely, their needs. The expectation then 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, and the same applies to customer service too. Writings skills in customer support are a critical part of communication, and every customer service person must be highly trained and well versed in these skills. Good writing skills ensure that the service representatives are able to respond and get their message across to customers with clarity, and free from ambiguity. Writing well ensures that there is no occasion for misinterpretation of the message, and is a sure-shot way to reach a larger audience through one single message than would be possible through face-to-face and telephone conversations.
Writings skills in customer support need constant upgrading, careful attention, and an eye for detail, since one instance of miscommunication could potentially ruin a customer relationship for good. Customer support staff must understand the importance of proper grammar, correct spellings and punctuation, and know the tone reflected in the written communication they send out. The recipient is sure to form an impression and opinion of the person and the company based on the contents and the manner in which the communication is presented to them. Poorly constructed written messages can form a negative impression in the mind of the reader / customer, which could be hard to change.
Writings skills in customer support are more than about writing well. It is about learning to read, re-read, and ensuring that the communication would be free from errors, and would convey the exact message for which it is intended. While there are tools to check spellings and grammar, there are a number of words that could be spelt correctly, but mean something different – for example, bare and bear – 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.
To make it convenient and simple for customers is the prime responsibility of customer service. Writing clearly and precisely forms a large part of this responsibility, making writings 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, and lead customers to believe that they are dealing with an unprofessional and poorly managed company. Mistakes in communication are usually interpreted as lowered capability of not just the person sending out the message, but for the company as a whole – that is not good publicity for any business. Writing correctly and sending out error-free communication can help the business establish and sustain a mutually beneficial relationship with its customers.
Another top aspect of writings skills in customer support is that the information contained must be precise and to the point. This would mean that the support staff must have patience and willingness to read a message sent by a customer before responding. The support agent should begin formulating a response only post 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 would be able to write a great response and increase customer satisfaction when the response clearly restates the need of the customer, and formulating a precise, easy to understand, and jargon free message. Professional communication is about writing for the reader’s understanding – while conveying the culture, vision, and commitment of the company for its customers.
The responses / messages that customer service agents formulate must have a certain flow, tone, and systematic path. A company should invest in technology that would allow the proper distribution of communication received from customers amongst all the support staff. This would not only distribute the workload, but also ensure that the wait time for customers is reduced, and they receive efficient and effective responses at all times. Writing well and precisely, with fluidity is no mean task, and with the high stress jobs that customer service staff have, it could become even tougher. It makes sense therefore for a company to separate the roles of their service staff, ensuring that they have a team dedicated to sending out written communication. This dedicated team would have the time and the skills to write out swift yet effective communication, such that whatever communication goes out of the company is meticulous, sharp, and precise.
Given that written communication is not a direct interaction, robotic and impersonal elements could creep into it. Top writing skills in customer support would then be about formulating communication that would sound pleasant, be personal, and convey the humane side of the company. Standardized ‘scripts’ and ‘umbrella’ communication would not be able to strike the right chord with customers – the communication would be ‘bland’, uninteresting, and would not be able to engage customers. Instead, the support staff must have the ‘history’ of the customer before them in order to write in a manner that would seem personal and interesting to the particular customer. Agreed, that some templates can save time and effort, however, these must not be used if the customer may seem particularly annoyed, and at the point of leaving. A well-crafted communication can actually prevent a customer from leaving, and restore her or his faith in the company.
Another area where writing skills in customer support are extremely crucial would be on live chat. Live chat is rising in popularity, and research shows a steady growth in the percentage of customers preferring this option. This is because customers expect to receive instant responses to their queries / problems, which in turn means that the service agents managing the live chat, should not only have thorough knowledge of the company and its offerings, but also be able to convey it through what they write while ‘chatting’ with the customer. This means top class written communication skills, typing skills, and the ability to gauge the need and mood the customer during the chat.
Providing top class service is the responsibility of every company, and good written communication is part of service excellence. A company would be able to create and build a sound rapport, both online and offline with its customers when it can convey empathy, care, commitment, and value to its customers in every way – and especially 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 swiftly and effectively. This is what customers expect, and are willing to stay with and provide more business to a company that can make their lives easier.