Customer service is an incredibly important part of making your business a success. Regardless of which field of business you are in and whether you are part of a large international company or are self-employed, there are certain (incredibly simple) customer service skills that you need to master. Below we have included a list of specific skills that once mastered, can wow customers on a daily basis.
In the main, great service beats fast service every time. Patience is a really important quality to customers as in general, those who require customer service are reaching out for support when confused, frustrated or in need of advice. By giving “slower” service you should be spending more time on understanding the customer’s requirements. As said on Helpscout.net “be sure to be patient when they come to you stumped and frustrated, but also take the time to truly figure out what they want – they’d rather get competent service than being rushed out the door”.
The ability to really listen to customers is so crucial. Not only is it important to pay attention to individual customer relationships but it’s also important to be aware of the feedback you receive at large. For example, customers may be implying that there is a problem with your business or product without actually saying those words. Customers are more likely to say “where do you put your prices again?” rather than “you’ve put your prices in a really inconvenient place”.
It’s great to find out more about your customers but make sure you get to the reason for their call quickly. Customers don’t need to share life stories or hear how your day is going. Equally, you need to be cautious about how some of your communication habits are coming across. In almost every case it’s best to err on the side of caution, for example, if you are doing a wedding and travel costs are “included” make it clear to the customer whether that means free or automatically put on their bill.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCT
This may be an obvious one but you need to know the ins and outs of what you are selling. If you don’t know your product or service from front to back you can’t help your customers and you can come across as looking unprofessional. Similarly, be aware of the most common questions customers ask about your products or services and know the answers on the spot. For example, do customers have to pay for your travel costs? Will their photos be available by a certain date? Do you provide downloads? Do you provide framing?
USE “POSITIVE LANGUAGE”
Using minor changes in your language can go a long way to producing happy customers. Customers create a perception about you and your company based on the language you use and therefore it is important to use positive conversational patterns. Let’s say a customer contacts you to book a portrait session, but you are fully booked until next month:
Without Positive Language: “I can’t fit you in until next month because I’m fully booked”
With Positive Language: “Sure, I’m available from next month and can book you in right now. I’ll send all the relevant paperwork through to you today so that we’re ready to go!”
Although both examples say the same thing – that you’re fully booked – the first is more negative with an abrupt and impersonal tone whereas the second focuses on resolving the problem for the client.
In all honesty, sometimes you’re going to come across people that you just can’t make happy. Everyone who is involved in customer service will have those basic acting skills. The most important thing is that no matter how grouchy a customer is, you keep your cheery persona and show that your priority is to help.
Nowadays you won’t always hear a customer’s voice let alone see them face-to-face. Therefore, it’s important that we understand some basic principles of behavioural psychology and are able to “read” the customer’s current emotional state. Make an effort to look and listen for subtle clues about a client’s current mood, patience level and personality and alter your behaviour accordingly. Do they sound agitated and in a rush? Give them a compact and concise answer rather than a drawn out explanation.
KEEP A COOL HEAD
The best customer service providers are those that don’t let a heated customer force them to lose their head. By providing customer service it’s your job to be the “rock” for a customer who is currently losing their mind over a problem.
BE ABLE TO HANDLE SURPRISE
Sometimes customer service means a surprise. Maybe you don’t know how to handle the request or the customer didn’t respond how you expected them to. Regardless, it’s important that you can think on your feet and decide how you are going to handle certain situations in advance. This may mean having your printing lab details to hand or knowing how to tell the customer that you will have to find out and get back to them, In this case, it is best to handle the query as best as possible and respond to them as quickly as you can.
By the time you have finished talking with your customer you should have confirmed that everything is to their satisfaction. The last thing a customer wants is to feel that they were rushed through their queries and that their questions had not been fully answered. Make sure you take the time to confirm with customers that each and every issue has been entirely resolved to their satisfaction. This will show to your customer that you care about treating them well, that you are going to keep going until you have done what’s right and that they are the ones who determine what “right” is.
Most of the qualities above are a bit of a no-brainer, however, it is so important to recognise just how much of a difference they make to the customer experience. Proving to your clients that you will go above and beyond for them and that you value their experience is a sure way to get customers coming back time and time again.