A certain level of product knowledge is expected from any employee of a company.
However, it’s especially important for those who provide assistance to customers whenever they need it—the customer service team.
If customer service knows all the details about a product or a service you’re offering, that ensures they’ll contribute to customer satisfaction.
That’s precisely why they’re here—so customers can come to them with questions and problems and expect solutions.
In this article, we’ll discuss why product knowledge is specifically important for customer service.
If you want to find out, keep reading!
Promoting Confidence in Employees
When employees have a firm understanding of the product, they are confident in their ability to provide help to customers.
That confidence can then shape the whole interaction with customers and significantly impact support quality.
How? Well, a deep knowledge of every facet of the product allows the customer support team to answer any questions that may come their way.
They will be quick, provide straightforward answers and leave the customer with the impression that they are the experts.
In other words, the confidence employees gain from product knowledge impacts how they communicate with customers.
Their answers are clearer, easy to understand, and more relevant when they know the product inside out.
Furthermore, that confidence affects employees' attitudes. When they're more assured in their knowledge, they have a more positive attitude.
After all, they know that they can solve any problem the customer might have.
According to Flavio Martins, an influential figure in the customer experience field, attitude is powerful.
Therefore, confident customer support employees will most likely have a positive attitude because they know they have the tools to help customers.
That confidence and attitude can shine through in different ways. For example, if your company has phone support, it can be easily detected through a tone of voice.
According to a study conducted by Albert Mehrabian at the University of California, 38% of meaning in communication is interpreted from the tone of voice.
That theory, laid out in his book Silent Messages from 1971, states that a further 7% of the meaning comes from the spoken word and 55% from body language.
Although this theory has limitations in the context of customer support, mainly because body language isn't a factor, it still indicates that the way your customer team speaks to customers can make a significant difference.
Of course, customer service for your products is almost certainly also available through channels other than the phone.
However, that doesn't mean that confidence and a positive attitude can't be detected by customers who use those alternative channels.
For instance, Adobe offers very active customer support through Twitter. Take a look at one of their answers to a customer’s question.
From those three sentences, you can clearly see that the employee is secure in their knowledge of the product.
The answer is simple, straightforward, and polite, and the "hope this helps" line at the end conveys a friendly attitude towards the customer.
To sum up, product knowledge is crucial for quality customer service.
Employees who provide help to customers need to be confident in their ability to do so, and the only way they can gain that confidence is by knowing as much as they can about the product.
That will make their interactions with customers positive and purposeful.
Providing Accurate Information
Your customers will contact your customer service with the assumption that the information they get that way will be correct.
That’s most likely not something they even consciously think about.
The purpose of customer service is to provide help with the product to those who need it, and customers come with the specific goal of getting that help.
Of course, the only way that customer service representatives can provide accurate information is if they know the product or service in great detail.
With in-depth knowledge, customer service can fulfill the clients’ needs, assist them with every issue and answer every problem. That’s the goal they should aim for.
Furthermore, excellent product knowledge also allows them to be accurate while being efficient and quick at the same time.
And getting answers fast is crucial for 90% of customers, according to HubSpot’s research.
Since customers are impatient, the speed with which you assist them is very important, but you have to have accurate information at your disposal to be quick.
That being said, given the complexities of software products, it’s beneficial to have a reliable source of accurate information that the customer service team can access at any moment.
That way, they can refresh their knowledge, learn about the new features when they roll out, and even refer customers to specific resources to help them further.
Let’s take a look at another example of Adobe’s customer support on Twitter. Below is their response to a customer who had issues saving their work as PDF in Adobe Illustrator.
As you can see, they advised the customer to reset the preferences.
However, given the nature of Twitter and its character limitations, they couldn’t provide an elaborate set of instructions on how to do that.
Instead, they referred the customer to their help center, which contains accurate information on performing the recommended action.
Having a knowledge base like that is convenient for your customer service, as well as your customers.
Essentially, it’s a repository of accurate information about the product. You can use product documentation tools such as Archbee to create a resource like that.
When your product information is available in Archbee, it is easy to access and edit it, as well as collaborate with your team on help articles.
Of course, you can grant access to the documentation to anyone you want, so your customer service team can also contribute with their insight.
Providing accurate information is much easier and faster when the customer support team has a reliable and easily accessible resource like that at their fingertips.
By supplying them with a knowledge base, you ensure that your customers get the help they need on every occasion.
Building Trust With Customers
When customers buy or subscribe to your product or service, it implies that they trust you.
If a customer picks your offering out of all the options they have on the market, they do that because they trust that it will be a good solution for their needs.
You can solidify that initial trust even more by showing that your customer service is reliable and knowledgeable about the product.
However, according to data from HubSpot, your customer support team will need to prove its trustworthiness to the customers.
That’s because only 10% of people consider customer service representatives reliable.
For comparison, the only professions ranking below them in that study are salespeople, marketers, stockbrokers, car salespeople, politicians, and lobbyists.
Therefore, building trust with customers should be one of the most important tasks for customer service professionals.
Suppose customer service representatives have in-depth product knowledge.
In that case, they’ll be able to provide high-quality assistance to a customer and show them that they were right for putting trust both in your product and in your customer service.
Building relationships with customers goes a long way in building trust.
When a user sees that your customer service has knowledge but also cares for them, that could be a big step in ensuring their loyalty.
And showing care can be as simple as recognizing them as individuals and personalizing the communication, as HubSpot Support does on Twitter.
Just addressing them by name and not using generic responses is a great way to build relationships with customers while providing them with the help they need at the same time.
Moreover, when your customer service has a thorough knowledge of the product and uses it to build trust with users, they don’t just build trust in their ability to help, but also in your company and your other products.
And that can be vital for your company because those customers can recommend your products and services to others, thus bringing you more revenue.
This is because, according to Sitel, people love to share their experiences with others.
Their data indicates that 44% of customers always leave a review after a great service.
Combine that with the 93% of customers who consult reviews like that when deciding on a product, and it’s easy to see how building trust and relationships with users can benefit your company.
To sum up, having deep product knowledge is instrumental in forming trustworthy relationships with your customers, and as an added bonus, it can also help with attracting more customers to your product.
Improving Customer Retention
We hope that we’ve made it clear by now that when employees have significant product knowledge, they have the tools to provide great customer service.
In addition to the already mentioned benefits of that, there’s another one—improved customer retention.
If you think about it, it’s logical. Given the quality and usefulness of your product, why would a customer ditch it and go to a competitor if they get excellent customer service from you?
They most likely won’t. That’s great for business because loyal customers can be a reliable source of revenue that you can count on.
Furthermore, if they’re already loyally using your product, there’s a good chance that they’ll try more of what you offer.
According to data by Salesforce, a positive experience with the customer service is a very significant factor in that.
Daniele Todaro, CEO of OceanLead and a professional with over 20 years of experience, is also a firm believer that customer service can make or break an impression a customer has of a brand.
Usually customer service teams that show passion and interest towards their product are likely to make a very positive lasting impression on customers, and this again would help strengthen your brand and improve sales.
In other words, by providing a top-notch customer service experience, you can reduce customer churn.
So, make sure that your customer service team has enough product knowledge to provide an experience that contributes to customer retention.
That’s important for another reason. It’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
How significant is the difference? Enough that it justifies investing more time and effort into ensuring that the customer support team has impeccable product knowledge.
According to Harvard Business Review, depending on the source and the study, getting a new customer can be five to 25 times more expensive.
Why is that? Because there are multiple costs associated with attracting customers, like direct marketing, social media marketing, SEO research, targeting, etc.
Those costs don’t exist or are much smaller when what you’re doing is keeping your customer. After all, they’re already using your product. All you have to do is keep them happy.
And if your employees have the necessary product knowledge, they can certainly contribute to user satisfaction, unlike Spotify’s customer service in the example below.
You can find the entire Twitter thread, complete with screenshots of the user’s conversations with Spotify’s customer service agents, here.
After admitting that they don’t have the answer to the problem, the agents simply closed the conversation without helping the customer with their additional questions.
That kind of customer service will hardly contribute to customer retention.
Therefore, ensure that the employees whose job is to help the customers have the knowledge to do so.
Otherwise, the users could seek out alternatives, and they wouldn’t be the ones to blame.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of product knowledge for customer service.
As we examined in this article, it can significantly impact the customer experience and even stretch beyond that.
A high level of product knowledge can boost employees’ confidence, allow them to provide more accurate and relevant information quickly, and earn their customers’ trust and loyalty, bringing in even more business and revenue.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t consider those as benefits no business should miss out on. Be sure that you don’t.