At Phusion we care deeply about customer success and invest time and tools (more on that in a next post) to provide our users with the best possible sales and support experience. The following is a “best practices” guide we use when onboarding new team members, originally written by Tara Lingard (edits by Phusion).
The mirroring technique is used to make you more relatable in communication where the receiver won’t be able to hear the inflection in your voice, or see your body language. Over the phone (and in person) you can mirror things like tone and speed of speech. Over email you can mirror things like language, level of formality and commonly used phrases.
To master the mirroring technique you have to pay close attention to not only what the other person is saying, but how they are saying it. Keep these things in mind:
- Language: what terms does the customer use to refer to the product, their subscription, their problem or other things.
- Level of formality: is the customer writing extremely formally, do they use emoji, are they speaking very shortly, do they seems very grateful, are they annoyed?
- Commonly used phrases: how do they greet you, how to they sign-off on their emails, do they always start with “how are you?”.
Customer email example 1
It would be better to reply with something shorter and more formal, just stating the facts:
Thanks for contacting us, I have set your subscription to cancel.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
Customer email example 2
I am wondering if you can help me out, Our Company was acquired and we’ve moved offices, is it possible to change the address that appears on the invoice before we are billed again to (address info)? Thanks!! Have a great week :)
Your reply could be more fun here. This person is polite and informal so we can do the same:
We’re happy to hear from you! I’ve updated the address to the new one in (city name) and that will appear on all invoices in the future. Can you let me know if I should also update the company name, phone number, names of contacts or email address on your account?
Thanks Customer! Have a great week too!
(You can also add something like “hope the weather in New City is better than in Amsterdam!” too if you’re feeling fun - of course the “New City” has to be a place that is actually warm/nice).
Adding a personal touch to email, phone or in person communication is a great way to build rapport with a customer. Think of this like going to a restaurant and having the staff remember you from last time – it feels good to have a personal connection to the people you are doing business with.
If you’ve had multiple phone calls with the same customer:
“Shall I call you at the usual time: Wednesday (21) around 2PM?”
If you worked to convert a customer and they are contacting us to renewal/upgrade:
“I hope everything is going great with Company Name”
or: “I hope everything in City Name is nice”
Other soundbites adding that personal touch:
- Great hearing from you again!
- Enjoy the holidays!*
- Have a nice long weekend.
* Be wary of referencing religious holidays as you might alienate or offend people.
Keep it simple
There is a lot of evidence to show that most systems work best if they are kept simple, rather than being complicated. In keeping communications simple we’re ensuring that the recipient (customer) understands the message. If the customer is unsure of the message then communication was unsuccessful.
Keeping communication simple requires a lot of empathy; to successfully deliver the intended message you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the recipient (customer) and read what you’ve written from their perspective. When reviewing an email draft ask yourself: does this make sense for a customer? And: is all this information really relevant to the customer?
Two things to keep in mind:
- The customer doesn't have all the knowledge we do, they might not understand something that we think is described very simply.
- We use different details to describe a situation internally than we should externally.
Always answer questions
This is a pretty simple one, but is sometimes forgotten. We need to always answer the customers direct questions. This should be done with the other points in this guide in mind (keep answers simple, be empathetic, mirror your answer to the customers question).
An example of this, the customer might say:
I don’t know where to see my account information. I want to sign up with two more servers, where can I do that. How to I change my email and name? What if I want to get help with something?
Now, let’s go over this email. The customer is obviously quite confused, they’re speaking pretty informally, they want to do an update, they want to keep their account info up to date, and it looks like they’re asking about how they get support (since they’re already emailing customer support I would guess they’re wondering about getting technical support).
First thing we should do is check their account: Are they an active customer, are they up for renewal anytime soon, have they contacted us before, is this person the person on the account?
That is a lot to keep in mind just for one email, but these are the things that take email communications to the next level. Your reply might look something like this:
I’m happy to help you out with these questions.
You can find all your account information (contact information and subscription information) in the customer area under the top tab called “My Account”. You can also add more servers to your account in the customer area through the “My subscriptions & billing” tab. Lastly, if you need technical help please refer to this page, and for any other issues or questions please contact me!
Thanks for getting in touch, have a great week.
What did we do in this email?
Mirroring: we referred to upgrading their usage as “add more servers” like they did, and referred to support as “help” like they did.
Personal touch: Instead of saying a generic “thanks for contacting us” greeting we said “I’m happy to help with these questions” which is a lot more personal, and instead of saying “for customer support/administration support you can email firstname.lastname@example.org” we said “for any other issues or questions please contact me!”.
Keep it simple: Instead of addressing their questions 1-by-1 in order they asked, we grouped the answers in a way that would be very simple for them to understand and provided links to make it even easier.
Double check & collaborate
Be sure to double check every email you write to look for any errors or opportunities to improve the email. Small errors can be easy to skip over, so have someone else review your emails from time to time as well. Everyone on the sales & CSM team should be reading each others’ tickets when they can, to try to spot places for improvement, errors, common issues with customers and to give positive feedback.
CTA - Call to Action
CTA’s are used in a lot of places, a good example of this is in marketing emails: if we send out a mass email for a new product that email is not just going to describe the new product - it’s going to end with a good CTA like “sign up for the new product now” or “get a quote for adding this to your team” or “start a free trial today”.
Here are a few examples of CTA we’ve used when communicating with our customers:
- Please let me know if you have any questions about the attached price estimation.
- Please inform me when you’ve reviewed the quote and we can move forward with payment.
- Can you provide me with a breakdown of your situation?
The purpose of the CTA is in the name: we want action so we ask the customer for action. Another reason to do this is to reiterate a point simply or again at the end of the email (particuarily if it’s a long email) so the recipient knows what it is we need from them.
On that note: we’re looking for a Customer Success Manager to join our team. Make sure to check out our careers page!