Customer Service Skills
For the month of September I thought I would make it “Ten Tips Month.” I will share with our readers ten tips to enhance team building ideas, customer service skills, leadership development and sales coaching skills. Some of these tips may be new ideas to you and others may be reminders of the importance of the things you are already doing. As I say in my workshops “We all know things, what is most important is what we do with what we know.”
1) Good enough never is – I love this saying by the Debbi Fields the founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies. If you ever hear yourself say “good enough” stop and ask yourself “Has this been done to the best of my ability?” or “Has this been done the way it was meant to be done?”
2) First impressions count – The saying “Your never get a second chance to make a positive first impression” is very true and I think companies need to have a great “first impression” attitude always. Your relationship with your customers can never be taken for granted or assume once you have them they will be loyal to you. A few bad experiences can undo a positive “first impression” very quickly.
3) Sweetest sound – Our name – people love to hear their name. When interacting with a customer use their name at least once during the conversation. Caution here, do not over use or it can actually have an adverse effect.
4) Everyone is your brand 24/7 – sometimes in a workshop when I say this people look at me like I am crazy. Think about it, you work all day in a company and you sing their praises, then go out for drinks with colleagues and bash and complain about the company. What are you communicating to your colleagues or anyone else who might be listening? It is my personal belief when you represent a company (we are all really in customer service) we need to be responsible about what we say both at work and during our time off – 24/7.
5) Train your employees – give your employees the adequate training and resources to effectively manage all situations that may arise to satisfy any customer issues. If there is the occasional situation that needs special attention, make sure your employees know the proper channels to go to so they can get things resolved quickly.
6) Keep in the loop – most customers are understanding when things go wrong. It is not so much that a problem has occurred, more important how it is handled. If the situation takes time to resolve make sure you keep the customer updated daily so they are never left with the feeling that no one cares or you have forgotten them.
7) Online reviews – customers may not complain to you directly and if you have a place for feedback on your website, they may feel more comfortable letting you know this way. It is also a great practice to perform periodic satisfaction surveys.
8) Track challenges – when there has been a challenge it is a good practice to debrief what happened and explore ways to change processes to prevent another occurrence. By tracking and monitoring changes you will have an audit trail of your improvements. Also letting a customer know that you have addressed the issue will show them you take their loyalty seriously.
9) Apologize first – when there is a customer complaint – apologize first, then correct the problem. By telling the customer you are sorry they had this experience, it will show you are willing to take responsibility and it also lets the customer know they were heard. In some situations the customer may be wrong but they should always have the feeling that you are there to support them.
10) Employee input – often managers miss the opportunity to solve some of their customer service issues by not asking employees their input. I learned this the hard way, years ago when I was a Customer Service Manager of a manufacturing company. I thought I had to have all the answers and solutions. Not so. Once I started to ask for suggestions, things moved a lot smoother and new procedures were implemented much quicker when the ideas came from the employees.
By Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC