24 May How to Provide Exceptional Customer Service: Best Practices and Tips
Your customer’s opinion of your company is the only thing that matters. It’s that simple.
This isn’t a matter of “the customer is always right”; this is a matter of “does my customer feel served, supported, heard and treated with respect?”
Customer service is the foundation upon which your company’s reputation is built.
Here’s how to provide exceptional customer service to keep your foundation strong.
- Time is of the essence. No one likes to be kept waiting. If your customer calls with a question or concern, it needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. If someone calls in frustrated and short-tempered, it’s important that your customer service agents not respond in kind, but to keep their cool and do all they can to quickly assess the situation and work to repair it. The longer someone has to wait for a solution, the less they’ll think of a company.
- Build listening skills. Both verbal and written communication skills are key to providing great customer service. It’s a matter of solving the problem the customer or client is facing — it might not be what they’re initially telling you. It might be something pertaining to a problem they’re having, and it’s up to your customer service team to ascertain the real issue and find a way to handle it. Solutions might not always be quick and simple, but the customer needs to feel like they’re being heard and understood. A bonus: Utilize a system that eliminates or reduces the need for the customer to restate their issue multiple times. No one likes having to start all over from the beginning when they’re already facing a problem.
- Be up front and honest if something is unfixable. As much as you’d like to wave a magic wand and instantly fix all a customer or client’s problems, that’s impossible. Sometimes things cannot be repaired. Train your team to be able to identify an unfixable issue quickly and to state, clearly and concisely, what happened to your customer, so they understand that this is something that will need to be addressed in a different way. Have solutions ready to help alleviate their stress and strain as quickly as possible and be prepared to take action, when needed, to retain their business — discounts, extended warranties, upgrades, etc.
- Minimize robots; maximize human connection. There’s a certain acceptance that calling a customer service number might not connect to a person right away. But how many steps does it take to get from an automated menu to a human? Keep your call-in options streamlined and require as few steps as possible before your customers are talking to a person. Getting stuck pushing buttons and shouting “CUSTOMER SERVICE!” into a phone won’t help anyone. People will be thrilled if they only have to hit a number once or twice before a friendly, helpful person says hello.
- Send surveys after the fact. It’s common practice for customer service lines, and for chat functions incorporated into company websites, to ask users and customers to take a short survey at the end of their interaction with your team. It might be better practice to automate an email that the customer receives immediately when their problem has been solved, instead of asking for them to tell you right then and there how satisfied they are. Respect your customer’s time and give them a little room to breathe before asking how well your team did their job. They might provide more positive answers! And it will allow them time to make sure the solution provided was effective.
The relationship your company has with its customers is critically important. Your customer service team is the first line of interaction. They have a vital role to play in your company’s success and they deserve all the support you can provide for them to do their job well and to keep your customers happy. Provide training, ask for their feedback (not just your customers!) and make changes as needed from time to time in order to keep your team steady, happy and confident, so they can keep your customers feeling the same way.
If you’d like to add to your customer service team to help reduce wait times, call LeadingEdge Personnel. We can help you find great candidates who have exactly the skills needed to be outstanding customer service representatives and ambassadors for your company and your brand. Contact LeadingEdge today and let’s get to work!