The “Secret” Trick to Delivering Consistent Customer Service as an Online Business Owner
When I was a Journalism major back in college, I did something unspeakable.
I decided I wanted to work in the White House.
(I blame it all on Allison Janney and The West Wing. She made political work look like an irresistible adventure.)
This slight detour in my education landed me a coveted internship for one of the U.S. Senators for my state. Among a collection of rather mundane duties (checking the mail, collecting press clippings, gossiping with the chief of staff’s assistant…), I was responsible for one extraordinary thing:
Responding to hundreds of constituent letters.
In the Senator’s name.
How did I do this? I could put a sentence together as well as anybody (or so I thought), but something as significant as a politician’s official correspondence would not be left to chance.
These letters also had to be written quickly; there was no time to agonize over tone, massage adjectives, and then recruit a higher-up to edit for accuracy + political correctness.
The trick? A script database. A big one.
Every office had access to this mammoth collection of pre-written scripts, which was categorized by subject. All I had to do was go in, find the general topic I was looking for, then copy + paste one of the myriad of sample letters onto the letterhead the Senator used.
In this way the message the Senator wanted conveyed was always accurate, always consistent, always on time, and always professional.
…Even if it was a naive, unpaid 20 year-old writing them.
Now obviously I did not go on to become the White House Press Secretary (maybe one day), but nonetheless I learned something infinitely valuable in that office.
I learned the power of pre-scripting.
I’ve used this “little secret” to deliver efficient, consistent customer service in my own business, which has in turn been one of the most significant ways in which I’ve built my reputation + earned repeat clients and customers.
(It has also made running Olyvia much less stressful for me personally. I don’t need to sit in front of my computer for 2.89 hours trying to craft “the perfect” response…I already have one!)
I’d like you to see the same benefits, too, so I hope you make a database for yourself. I guarantee you’ll never regret it.
Below are a few easy tips to help you get started:
1. Use what you have.
Look through old emails, tweets, Facebook messages, Etsy review replies, etc., that you made to clients or customers. Find those where you like what you said and feel it represents the kind of professionalism + warmth you hope to have in every correspondence. Paste those entire sentences or snippets/phrases/words into a document to start building your database.
2. Don’t ditch the niche.
Keep in mind that even if the sentence is very specific to a certain client and seems “too niche” to include, you can always use it as a jumping off point to tweak for other clients.
3. Keep adding to it.
Whenever you have some free time or write an especially killer response on behalf of your business, add to your database. You want it filled with phrases or sentences that are kind, warm, and sound like you.
Things you can have “canned” are a variety of greetings at the beginning of emails, a variety of conclusions and sign-offs, reassuring statements about working on their project and the progress made, questions that seek more information, and so on. The possibilities are almost endless, my friends.
Here are some examples that I have used personally, as well as some that I’ve written for clients in our consulting work together. Feel free to use them as your own!
12 CUSTOMER SERVICE SCRIPTS YOU CAN USE (WORD-FOR-WORD) RIGHT NOW
Your feedback is super important [to me/to the success of the project/to achieving a terrific final product/…], so don’t hesitate to speak your mind.
WHEN THE CLIENT/CUSTOMER WANTS SOMETHING THEY CAN’T HAVE
I [see/hear] what you’re saying: [insert the person’s underlying problem here: the inability to get a refund after __ months/missing the free (workshop/giveaway/…)/not having editable files/breaking the _____ while unwrapping it/…] is [frustrating/a huge bummer/…]! The reason my business is unable to offer __________ is because ___________. However, I definitely want to help minimize all [inconveniences/misunderstandings/accidents/…] in the future. One thing I recommend for next time is _______________.
WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER
That’s a fantastic question! Let me [think on that/do some research/consult with _______/…] and get back to you.
WHEN SOMEONE IS SLOWWW TO REPLY
I’m touching base with you because I noticed that I didn’t receive a reply from you re: my latest [email/phone call/…] on [insert exact date here]. I know things have been [crazy/exciting/busy/wild] for everyone, so I wanted to be sure to drop you a friendly personal reminder. If you could get your reply to me by [insert exact date], [I can ship this item out ASAP/we can get this project wrapped up for you/we’ll be able to avoid the Delay of Work penalties as outlined in our contract/…]!
WHEN SOMEONE IS EXPERIENCING PROBLEMS (IE: TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES)
What a bummer! Could you try __________ and let me know if that solves the problem?
WHEN SOMEONE LEAVES YOU A CRITICAL COMMENT
Can you tell me more about [why you think that/the problems you’re seeing/your experience on this/…]? [To keep drama to a minimum, you might invite them to contact you privately.]
WHEN A POTENTIAL/CURRENT/PAST CLIENT OR CUSTOMER IS FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, FURIOUS…
I definitely understand your frustration. Here’s what I’m going to do: [insert action(s) you’ll take to help fix the issue]. Meanwhile, here’s what you can do: [insert action they can take to help fix the issue].
TURNING DOWN WORK
Though unfortunately [my client schedule is full at the moment/I’m currently taking a leave of absence/I’m no longer working on projects of this kind/…], I’d love to see if I can help you out! [Insert resource, other solution, or people you recommend here.]
Have a terrific [weekend/week/evening/vacation/conference/…], and I’ll be in touch [first thing Monday/once I receive ______/after I’m back in town on (insert date)/…].
OTHER SHORT PHRASES
I can definitely do that.
I appreciate you.
Do you struggle with consistent customer service? Or have you discovered a method that makes customer service easy + fast? I’d like to hear about it in the comments. 🙂
You can get more of my advice on how to build a customer service script database + gain access to over 87 ready-to-use phrases to make your client + customer interactions stress-free, friendly, and totally #heroic with Pre-Scripted: The Small Biz Owner’s Mini-Guide To Building A Customer Service Script Database. Click to read more about it here, or purchase now for the sale price of $5.
This post is the last in the #HeroicBrand series I’m holding on the blog, the mission of which is to help you build a healthy, long-term biz online by being a hero to the people you serve. Previous posts are below: