Choose Clear, Calm and Concise Communication Practices
Make sure you’re using clear and direct wording with your customers. People play off the tone of the person they are speaking with so try to use calm language with frustrated/busy customers. The more direct your wording, the better. Busy customers will appreciate the brisk service. Also, monitor customer reactions to the language you use and adjust communication that elicits confusion. Clear, calm and direct communication skills leave positive impressions and, in turn, improve your overall business.
Use “Positive Language”
Though it sounds hyperbolic, simple adjustments to how you word statements can make a big difference. It can be the difference between a customer choosing to do business with you as opposed to a competitor. For example, a customer needs service work on a piece of equipment but your shop schedule is full until next week.
- An example of negative language in response to this conflict would be: “our schedule is full until next week, sorry.”
- An example of positive language in response would be: “we have an availability first thing next week. I can schedule you in right now.”
Both responses convey the same message but the positive language used in the second response may elicit a more encouraged reaction from the customer.
Try To Provide A Calming Presence For Your Customers
Patience is key. One of the best impressions you can make is remaining calm when everything seems to be falling apart. Providing calm, reliable support while resolving issues for your customers may be the best way to ensure they will return. Patient, calm service is not only important for external relations but will improve the work environment internally. Great customer service, i.e. patient, calm and effective resolution skills, is almost certainly more important than fast service when engaging with customers. A customer is more apt to return to the team that ensures they are taken care of and calmly engaged with rather than hurriedly served with less couth and consideration.
Truly listening to each customer is crucial to providing optimal customer service. Reading the mood and tone of your customer is important to providing their preferred service. For example, a frustrated customer who is in the midst of an issue probably will not appreciate a lackadaisical joke while a relaxed, lighthearted customer may. Listening is also crucial to actually understanding the precise needs of each customer. If a customer feels as though you aren’t focusing on their needs and are, instead, trying to push a product/service or are absent minded then they may choose a competitor in the future.
Having superior expertise in your field is a fundamental and reliable route to establishing rapport; not only with your customer base but within the industry as a whole. Of course there is a spectrum of expertise and not every employee will (or should) know everything about each product/service but the cornerstone of excellent customer service is knowledge of the product or service that you’re providing. You should know the ins and outs of the product, or how to service/support the product, as well or better than your customer. You probably don’t know everything there is to know about each product/service provided in your organization, which is understandable, but having niche expertise is a virtuous and valuable pursuit. Strive to learn new things about your industry and products: it pays off.
Improve Time Management
Effective time management is essential for great customer service. While the customer should not feel as though you are rushing to serve their needs, it’s important that they understand that you are striving for efficiency and not wasting their time. It’s a careful balancing act but an important skill to master.
Roll With The Punches
Almost every professional will have a day where the unexpected occurs. You can’t predict every scenario nor should that be expected of you. However, it’s important to understand that there will be days that present you with challenging and unexpected difficulties. A sign of top-quality customer service is the ability to roll with the punches. You don’t know what might come your way but you can mentally prepare yourself for these situations. It may sound contradictory, but have a game plan for the unexpected. Know who and what your resources are. Think about how you will approach difficult situations and have a contingency plan (i.e. maybe your supervisor knows that if the situation is imperative you will call him/her and email less time-sensitive issues, that way they will know phone calls are important and will be more likely to consistently answer). Other skills mentioned, like patience and a calm attitude, complement and are necessary for this skill, as well.
Persuasiveness goes hand-in-hand with other skills such as listening, identifying customer needs and knowledge of your products/services. Chances are, you know your products/services better than your customer. Therefore, when a customer presents you with their issue or need you most likely know the best way to proceed even though the customer may have preconceived expectations. The ability to persuade your customer of their best interests, without deterring or discouraging the customer, is a valuable and rare skill. Many customer service inquiries will be more curious in nature as opposed to problem-resolution based. In these cases, persuasiveness particularly comes in handy. The ability to identify the interested party’s needs and convince them that your product or service can help them is an important aspect of the customer service realm. Pay careful attention to what works and what doesn’t in order to develop and nurture this skill.
Develop Tenacious Work Ethic
Putting in extra effort is something that your customers will remember. Exhibiting an above-and-beyond attitude is something that resonates with people; customers and coworkers alike. Great work ethic and a willingness to complete tasks and go beyond the expected is a sure-fire way to stand out. Beyond simply standing out and leaving a great impression, extra effort isn’t exactly commonplace and will likely both result in repeated business and overall improved company morale.
Focus On Value-Added Services
Valued-added is defined as the enhancement a company gives its product or service before offering the product to customers. Value-added applies to instances where a firm takes a product that may be considered a homogeneous product, with few differences (if any) from that of a competitor, and provides potential customers with a feature or add-on that gives it a greater sense of value, according to Investopedia. Value-added services are a great way to improve customer experience thus enhancing customer service. Value-added services may include streamlining a process for the customer, eliminating a task for the customer, bundling additional services or providing a technology or data service which contrasts and improves upon that of offerings provided by competitors.
Appropriately Stock Inventory
Accurately forecasting inventory needs may appear as a behind-the-scenes business issue, which it is, but it can drastically affect customer service as well. Having too much or too little of a product can not only be wasteful but can also affect the impression you have on a customer. For example, if a patron visits a store and the store consecutively does not have enough of a product the patron intends to purchase, they may go to a competing store in the future. However, having too much of a product can result in waste and negatively affect a company’s bottom line. Stocking your inventory is not only an important aspect of your overall business model but an important aspect of customer service, as well.
Use Cutting-Edge, Updated Technology
Staying apprised and up-to-date with technological trends is not only beneficial for efficiency but improves customer experience. If a competitor offers technological advancements unavailable at your business, some customers may opt for the more technologically advanced company due to simplified processes, convenience, etc. While technology enacted by a company may not be a choice of which each employee has significant control, it is something each employee should take note of and, when possible, point out possible improvements that can be made. When you can improve your digital footprint and the technology you use, do so.
There is not a perfect recipe for ideal customer service. Rather, it is the combination of emotional intelligence and an instinct for identifying the needs of your customer and appropriately fulfilling them. You should never settle for just okay and even if you are one with superior customer service skills, always strive for better. Some benefits of a continual-improvement culture include: increased productivity, improved quality, lowered costs, decreased delivery times, improved employee morale, reduced turnover rate and more. Searching and identifying ways to improve should be viewed as a critical priority within your organization.