Exceptional customer service has a profound affect on retaining customers and increasing your customer base.
- Does your staff treat customers, colleagues and stakeholders with respect?
- How effective is your staff at following up on feedback?
- Are your complaints and returns handled gracefully?
- What do exceeding customer expectations look like in your company?
- Is going out of your way to help customers, colleagues and stakeholders part of your culture?
- Have you checked whether all your staff understands your customers’ needs and wants?
This is the first article of a four-part series focusing on how the fundamentals of customer service are crucial to staff interaction, stakeholder management and the growth of every staff member, including yourself. Each article will cover six core components of customer service, that are pivotal to the success of your company or organisation.
1. Patience is the Virtue
Patience is not just about waiting for something; it is about your attitude and the way you wait. You don’t want to waste the customers time, but you need to take the time to allow them to express their concerns and for you to listen carefully so you can figure out what they are looking for. People want you to understand their needs and wants, and don’t like to be rushed out the door. It is important to remember that great service beats fast service every single time!
“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”
2. Cool as a Cucumber
Have you got what it takes to stay cool, calm and collected, when it all gets a bit hairy and out of control? Having the ability to hold your nerve and remain composed when the conversation or situation gets a bit hectic is an invaluable skill. If you can take it up a notch and be able to influence, as well as stay calm, when the heat is on, you are in a powerful position when servicing customers. Whatever happens, you need to take it upon yourself to do whatever it takes to keep the peace and ensure the world doesn’t fall down around the customer.
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
3. Power of Positivity
The language you use when speaking with customers, has a major effect on how they perceive and hear your response. Using words such as can’t, won’t or unavailable are likely to have a negative on the customer’s views of the staff and the company or organization. Creating happy customers should be your number one goal. Be in control of your conversational patterns so the language you use creates positive perceptions. The tone of your language can have a noticeable effect on your ability to persuade and influence your customers.
“Life is all about perception. Positive versus negative. Whichever you choose will affect and more than likely reflect your outcomes.”
4. Ability to Read Customers
Being able to create a personal experience for your customers is an important part of making a long-term connection. With communication extending from visual, to listening and now even more common, written, you have to be effective in reading their current emotional state. You need to ask yourself, how well do I know the customer? If you misread a customer’s emotional state, your response, or lack-of, may lead to confusion and miscommunication. This essential skill requires you to look, listen and quickly comprehend subtle cues and clues about their current mood, personality, patience, and desired outcome.
“I never teach until I have spoken to the student. I have to first determine their emotional state, understand their background, find out what I have to do, how many layers I have to keep peeling off so that I get to the core of the person so that they can recognise, as well as I, what is there.”
ADOPTED – CUS D’AMATO
You have to be on your toes, as customers may not necessarily spell out what they are looking for, right from the start. Your ability to listen carefully and effectively is pivotal to providing exceptional service. Being mindful and attentive to what they are saying, the way they are saying it, when they are saying it and how they are saying it provides valuable information for deciding how to respond. You may need to ask questions that clarify what you think they have said or written, as you pay attention to customer interactions.
“When I think about great service, it’s about how you take every interaction you have with the customer and use that as a way to improve their perception of your organisation.”
6. Be Empathetic
Do you have the ability to understand and share the feelings of your customer? Empathy is an important character trait, which can be learned and developed over time. Your ability to emphathise with your customers and develop a message that leads to a positive outcome is an invaluable craft. Sometimes you wont be in a position to provide the news they are looking for, so you need to show compassion, understanding, care and concern when you speak with them.
“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
Customer service wont develop on its own. It is constantly evolving as your company or organisation grows and develops. You need to be constantly enhancing both your customer service as well as the company or organisation you work with. What customer service improvement strategies are you employing?
Customer Service part 2 is now available with the Going the Extra Mile article. This article covers clear communication, using your acting skills, knowing your products, managing time, being ready for surprises and the tenacity to go above and beyond for your customers.
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