Oct 10, 2017
Customer Service 101's really can make a difference
Although most of us have probably had Customer Service training somewhere in our working lives, we can no doubt cite so many examples of where our service experience from others was less than stellar. There are three very simple service factors that remain constant: good communication, building rapport and follow- through.
Communication is an all-encompassing word that includes the way we express ourselves, and the way others interpret our message. This communication can both verbal (face-to-face and over the phone/skype), and non-verbal (email, letters and body language). So, the words we use, the tone of delivery and the medium we use, all have an impact on our perceived service. What is sometimes less pronounced when one talks about communication, is our ability to listen. Often, we listen “to respond and not to hear”. In our haste, we may assume we know what the customer wants and rattle off the solution, or next step. We really need to listen until the person has finished speaking before we respond. Keeping a record of the key points of the discussion is also vital and has three important benefits:
- You are more easily able to paraphrase what the customer has said
- They know you heard them which makes them feel respected
- They know you understood what they were after, or they can clarify a point that needs explaining more fully.
Not only do we want to record the information, but also the quality of information is significant. Here I’m referring to the information that makes the customer feel that they are not just a number. How do we achieve this, you ask? By remembering personal information that they may have shared with you. For example, they may have told you about a new development at work, or a recent promotion, or a personal event. Being able to enquire after any of these personal items is so helpful at conveying to the customer that you care. I find myself checking with whom I am speaking, and making quick notes for myself about the customer, building up an informal “database” of information that I can quickly refer to ahead of a conversation. The benefits of developing rapport are:
- Better relationship
- They are feeling cared for
If I’ve learnt anything over my 35 years of business, it’s that what usually undoes good intentions, is a failure to follow-through. Think of a time when you went out of your way for a client, organised what they wanted and sat back and thought “job well done” only to have the customer call you up a little later complaining because an expectation hadn’t been met. It’s entirely possible that you were not to blame. For example, it may have involved a courier service or another third party, and they have dropped the ball. However, had you followed through, and retained responsibility for the service through to completion, the unpleasantness could have been avoided. Reminders and notes to myself have been a very useful way to remember to follow-through with clients. The benefits speak for themselves:
- Good reviews and ratings
- Repeat business and goodwill
- Great experience with your organisation
In conclusion, there is nothing difficult about providing excellent customer service. Speaking, writing and listening well are critical, followed by an ability to build rapport by referring to a client “database”, and finally, following-through after every transaction to confirm that the customer is satisfied and will give us their business again.
If you're in a customer services role and want to improve your approach to customer centricity, take a look at the Professional Development Courses we offer.
Or, if you lead a Customer Services team, look at what's new in Dynamics 365 for Customer Services. This unique, tailor-built for the Australian market program provides detailed guidance on how customer services teams can use a CRM to capture the information customers share with your team, and how you can reuse that information to increase the level of service, and ultimately value of your customer base.
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