How to Excel in Customer Service
Whether buying your morning coffee, picking up your clothes at the dry cleaner or calling for restaurant reservations, one unifying aspect of each of these simple transactions is being part of a greater customer service experience. Every day we all play the role of customers, often making decisions around what to buy and where to go based on the level of service we received at the counter, on the other end of the phone, or across the internet.
In today’s service economy, companies are continuously relying more on their customer service as a competitive advantage, making outstanding customer service qualities a must-have for potential new hires. While the customer may not always be right, there are right and wrong ways to provide effective customer service. With this in mind, Adecco compiled tips for those looking to successfully enter or move forward in their career as a customer service professional.
In order to provide your customers with top-notch service, people need to feel comfortable coming to you with their questions or concerns. When face-to-face, be sure to welcome customers and make an effort to appear available and ready to engage in conversation. If you’re on the phone or using email, be cordial and polite in your responses – two word emails or replies will leave customers dissatisfied and less likely to feel their issue has been addressed or resolved.
Know your customer
What are your customers’ wants/needs? Why are they coming to you, and what are they hoping to get out of the transaction? Sometimes it is just the product you sell; other times it’s your service that differentiates your company from its competitors. Ask questions and learn as much as you can about the person you’re serving. Not every customer should be approached the same way. Tailoring your response to fit their needs will help to ensure a more positive customer experience.
Give memorable service
Customers will return if their experience with you was positive and hassle-free. If you’re on the phone, make sure not only to greet the customer and remember their name, but also give them your name so they can feel a more personal connection with you. In a store, give them your card; in an email, include your whole signature with full contact information. Personalization builds established business relationships.
Remember that even though you may not be at fault, often times customers will take out their frustration on you. Regardless of their tone of voice or demeanor, be sure to always remain respectful and calm – don’t come down to their level. Remain calm and collected and promptly refer them to a supervisor if the situation cannot be appropriately controlled.
Your customers are usually calling or approaching you with a problem or concern they need solved, often urgently. They may be upset or frustrated, so it is important that you react not only professionally, but also quickly. This sort of response will assure them that you are taking their issues seriously and are willing to do whatever is necessary to solve their problems, thus lessening the odds of them becoming agitated or overly aggressive.
Listen to complaints
Customer complaints are often valid and are usually the result of circumstances beyond your control. Regardless of this fact, they are relying on you to be an open ear. To best approach this situation, make sure that you are not only engaged, but are also empathetic with their frustrations and concerns, and trying your best to offer effective solutions and alternatives.
Research the marketplace
Know the business in which you work. Know who your competitors are and how they treat their customers by becoming one and observing the way that you’re treated. Follow by example – copy excellent customer service and be sure to avoid those who exhibit less admirable qualities in dealing with their clients.
Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit
There is often no monetary value in answering a question, but a customer that has been helped is a satisfied one and will likely return, and may also spread the word to others. Answering each question, while being patient, polite, and professional, is an investment in new business and growth for the company.
Go the extra mile
Going above and beyond for your customers will ensure they’re satisfied and impressed by your efforts, making you and your company their first resource in the future. This will not only positively affect the customer’s mood and interaction with you, but it might motivate the customer to refer your helpful actions to other customers – or better yet, your boss.
Remain polite & positive
Even on the phone, a customer can tell if you’re happy to help or if you posses a negative attitude. Regardless of your own personal feelings or whether you’re having a good day, it’s important that you treat each customer with the same level of service and always with a helpful, positive tone.
Although it is often easy to identify times of poor customer service, it can be more difficult to think of those qualities which differentiate good service from a great interaction. In order to ensure that a customer is satisfied with your level of service, take a minute to see things from their perspective and think about how you would like to be treated. Taking their point-of-view and following the tips above will ensure you’re always part of the solution and not a part of the problem.