A customer service Bill of Rights

After a bad customer experience, have you ever wished for a customer service Bill of Rights? That is, that there was a clear set of rules for companies to follow when it comes to customer service?

We’re proposing one. This customer service Bill of Rights isn’t a legally binding document, or a promise of extended legislative rights for customers. Rather, it’s a list of rights that businesses should afford their customers in the pursuit of a great experience.

Whether you treat it as a best practice guide or as a formal customer service Bill of Rights, here are the fundamental dues you should be giving your customers.

Right to accessible service

The right to accessible service is the first item on our customer service Bill of Rights. Accessibility in customer service relates to more than offline requirements like wheelchair access. Digital entry points — your website, your online communication channels — should be usable by everyone, too.

Providing accessible customer service can be achieved by offering a flexible choice of support channels. People with speech impediments or social anxiety might prefer to interact using live chat or via email, for example. Meanwhile, those with reduced motor function or physical disability might prefer to use telephone support.

You can also improve accessibility by designing your website with disability in mind. For example, offering adjustable text size, high contrast colours and optimising for a screen reader can help any with eyesight issues.

As an added incentive, remember that failing to make your service accessible could already mean you’re breaking the law.

Right to support in your native language

Related to accessibility is the second of our customer service Bill of Rights points. Viz., the right of the customer to have support options in their native language.

For businesses that are going global, support should be readily available for every customer, no matter their location. Unfortunately, not everyone will speak the same language as you, and for native speakers, receiving support in another language can be stressful.

Online self-service options are one way to offer support in other languages. You can tailor your site to each country you operate in, either via a multi-lingual or multi-regional website. That way, customers will be able to access your self-service materials in their own language.

When it comes to human support, however, live chat software is a great tool for offering service in a customer’s native language. Real-time chat translation allows customers and agents to chat in their respective language of choice, with two-way translations keeping the conversation seamless.

Incorporating this rule will reduce stress for your international customers. Plus, it adds a human touch to your global customer service that could give you a competitive edge.

Right to respect

In the customer service Bill of Rights, respect would mean being polite, showing courtesy, and considering the customer’s feelings. But respect can go further than simple courtesy. The customer’s right to respect lends itself to demonstrating that every customer is appreciated and valued.

Disrespect is felt when responses are curt or robotic, meaning customers don’t feel listened to, understood or appreciated. Fulfilling the customer’s right to respect, then, is simple.

Agents need to remain calm, positive and polite, and actively listen to the customers they’re serving. They should make sure they fully understand before replying, by asking questions and avoiding assumptions about what the customer knows or has done.

Lastly, ending any experience with gratitude is the cherry on the cake that rounds off a respectful experience.

Right to speak to an empowered human agent

For FAQs and easy, low-stress problems, chatbots are great. Welcome, even. But sometimes human flexibility and problem solving is needed. In these situations, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to reach a human representative.

Worse still, is when you do get through to a human and they can’t help you with your problem or compromise on solutions. You end up bouncing around through countless transfers until you finally reach a supervisor, who can authorise in minutes what you’ve been asking for over the past hour.

So, the right to speak to an empowered human agent is a best practice that should be added to the customer service Bill of Rights. Businesses can achieve this through training their employees and giving them the authorisation to offer solutions that benefit the customer. (Without facing a penalty for doing so.)

Tools like live chat routing can also be useful for achieving this empowerment goal, by making sure that every customer is connected to the agent best suited to their problem.

A customer service Bill of Rights

These are our suggestions for a customer service Bill of Rights. Some are based in law, others in common sense and best practice.

You might see a customer service Bill of Rights as a serious promise to your customers, or as a fun way to outline your customer experience goals. Whichever way you view it, all these rights boil down to one, over-arching notion: the right to great customer service.

Useful links

Accessible customer service: is your business open?

Beware the robotic response

Chatbots: what are they good for?