You don’t have to be Mr. or Ms. Outgoing, or a sales guru to excel at customer service. Regardless of your position in a company, most employees interact with a customer or two on a regular basis whether it is through email, phone or in-person. How well that interaction is perceived is based on these five areas.
1. Know It All
Make is priority to know your customer. Get to know his industry and any issues he might be facing by reading his industry-related publications and researching relevant social media accounts and/or company materials.
“It’s important for service representatives to practice emotional control because they are essentially representing the entire organization,” states Emily Bennington, author of Miracles at Work: Turning Inner Guidance into Outer Influence.
Show interest and invest in your customer by asking about his business. Asking how things are going or inquiring about ways you can improve his experience with your company can provide your customer with added trust.
2. Understand Where They are Coming From
Great customer service requires empathy – the ability to understand a perspective or experience.
But, if you come off insincere, your efforts are lost. Listen to the customer and put yourself in his shoes. Pay attention to the customer and what he is saying. Ask questions and offer thoughtful responses.
3. Cool as a Cucumber
The customer is not always right, but you can’t tell him that.
“It’s important for service representatives to practice emotional control because they are essentially representing the entire organization,” says Bennington. “It helps to recognize that what we tend to view as a personal attack from a customer isn’t really personal at all—they’re frustrated with the business. Maintaining that perspective can help you hold your composure no matter what.”
4. Take a Deep Breath
Customer service doesn’t mean you always have to agree or comply with a customer’s requests.
Our knee jerk reaction might be to apologize and try to find a quick solution. But, according to Karyn Schoenbart, the CEO of The NPD Group and the author of Mom.B.A., this isn’t always the best move.
“I don’t rush to say that I’m sorry until I know all the facts,” she says. “And unless the problem is a simple one that can be solved on the spot, I prefer not to stretch for a resolution during this first conversation. I want to be able to gather all the relevant information and make sure I’m putting my best foot forward.”
You can avoid the urge to pull the trigger by immediately scheduling a follow-up call with the customer. And some customers will always be dissatisfied and continue to increase demands – more discounts, faster service, greater access to products or even free services.
5. Channel your Inner UN Diplomat
Unfortunately, sometimes doing business means you have to share something the customer doesn’t want to hear or you have to tell him “no.” Schoenbart recommends getting it over with quickly.
“If you’re nervous, realize that people will remember how you handled the situation more than what actually occurred,” Schoenbart says. “Just be honest about the fact that you feel terrible, as in: ‘I’m really upset I have to give you this bad news. I was up all night worrying about it.’ Humanizing the issue can soften the blow.”
Have all your ducks in a row before you address any big issues with a client. Preparedness can make the difference between “okay” customer service and “GREAT” customer service.