8 Customer Service Tips That Will Never Go Out of Fashion
1. Know your stuff. Make sure all customer facing staff have the knowledge and interpersonal skills needed to provide best advice, delivered in a friendly and personal way. There is nothing worse than dealing with someone in a customer service department who doesn’t know what they are talking about or has little skill in dealing with customers needs, wants or issues.
All new staff should be properly trained, supervised, supported and developed until the business is completely satisfied they have the knowledge and skills required to deliver a high level of customer service.
2. Always think long term. The main focus of a customer service team is to protect new business, encourage loyalty and repeat custom. A new customer is expensive to attract to your business. An existing customer is much more profitable and when they are treated well, are highly likely to recommend your products and services to others.
3. Always put yourself in the customers’ shoes. A customer service representative should be highly skilled in picking up customers’ tone of voice or body language (or both) and assess what other issues the customer may be facing today, aside from the issue they are contacting the business for. Many people nowadays value their time dearly and having to make another phone call or visit to your business is something they could probably do without.
It is therefore very important to empathise with customers and put yourself in their position and make them feel valued and ensure the experience they have with you today puts a spring in their step, rather than drag them down.
4. Honesty is always best policy. If a customer service agent doesn’t have an answer, they must be honest and explain this is a new question or scenario for them and quickly get the information to the customer, so they feel valued. If the customer advisor has to deliver news they know the customer won’t want to hear, show empathy and explain what you can do, rather than string the customer along with weak reasoning or company policies that are likely to upset rather than appease customers.
5. Never put obstacles in front of a customer when dealing with a customer service issue. There is so much a business can do to help address a request or satisfy a complaint or issue. Never pass customers onto another department unless you have made sure someone is available to speak with them. Do not leave customers waiting in another queue (whether a phone queue or department queue) Take responsibility and explain the issue to ensure the customer doesn’t have to explain their request or issue again.
6. Always show your human side. People in business very often forget that we are always working for human beings, people from all walks of life who face many different experiences and challenges every day. When we have an opportunity to connect with another human being (a customer) why not take the opportunity of making them feel (human) and valued? Why not make the person feel special? Why not make them feel like it’s worth coming back again (because they will enjoy the experience and you are good people to deal with)
7. See the bigger picture. Your product / service is important to you (if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be in business) but it is not going to be as important to your customer. Let your passion come through for what you do, but keep your discussions and interactions with your customers, simple, to the point and constructive for both parties.
8. Always give something back. Business owners often forget customers are constantly spending money. Profits are made (rightly so) but good customer service is best demonstrated when the business offers goodwill gestures, experiences or gifts to loyal customers.
There is no harm in giving a customer a special discount on their next order if they have needed to call in more times than necessary recently, to sort an issue out. There is no harm in sending valuable customers extra product or a special gift once in a while, to make them feel special and valued.
Written by Iain Venn | GM at Sailflags in the UK