If you’re a customer service representative, a salesperson, or any other person who deals with customers daily, you know how important it is to make sure they get what they need. But excellent customer service doesn’t just happen—it takes careful thought and strategy. We’ll go over some tips for being friendly and professional with your customers, but first let’s talk about why it’s important.
Why is Customer Service Important?
There are an uncountable number of reasons why customer service is important, but we only have time to focus on the few at the top of the list.
Foremost, good customer service keeps your customers happy. A happy customer is a customer who comes back to you. A happy customer is a customer who recommends your product or service to their friends. In the end, exemplary customer service directly affects your bottom line.
But those financial reasons are a culmination of many factors. When you provide great customer service, you make your customers feel valid, wanted, and like they’re being treated fairly. These factors combine to make you and your company look like a good option for your customers.
Customer service is all about building a relationship. While there is a transactional nature to every business customer, the relationship that you build needs to be treated carefully to make it an enriching addition to both sides of the sale.
Now that we know why good customer service is important, it’s critical to dive into what makes a customer experience that stands out versus one that gets lost in the shuffle. It all starts with your own actions.
The Personality of Customer Service
If you think back through the times that you’ve had exceptional service, I’m willing to bet that one thing stands out — the person. Sure, it might be what they did, but it probably had a lot more to do with how they did it. To mimic those successes, follow these three tips when working as or building your customer service team:
You can win a customer’s trust by being friendly, but not too friendly. Customers appreciate you taking the time to talk to them and help them out, but if you’re too chatty or familiar with your customers, it can make them uncomfortable. Make sure that when you speak with a customer, you use their name and keep things professional. This will show that you care about the person on the other end of the line.
Remember that part about not being too friendly? This is where that comes into play.
You are the face of your company. You’re the first person a customer will interact with, so it’s important that you act professionally at all times. Act as if you are dealing with an actual human being who wants to buy from you and give them your best customer service experience.
There’s a fine line between being friendly and unprofessional. It’s your job to stay on the right side of that divide. Take your time, articulate, and use proper grammar. If you’re using text-based communication, avoid using emojis unless your customer does first. Always spell out words and avoid using text-speak.
If you’re speaking on the phone, try your best to remain calm even if the customer is not. Always try to focus on resolving issues, rather than on the negative words or tone that may come your way.
When you are in customer service, it’s easy to be afraid of being yourself. You’re constantly being judged and evaluated, and you don’t want to make a mistake or say something wrong. When you’re having those moments of self-doubt, think back to the fact that your company hired you because they liked what they saw.
Be confident in your ability to help the customer, and to solve their problems. You have honesty and empathy on your side, and a deep desire to be helpful. All it takes is excellent communication skills.
Communication in Customer Service
When a customer comes to you for help, it’s almost always when they’ve been struck by frustration. Now that we’ve talked about your personality traits, we need to spend some time talking about communication skills. Most times, these can be summed up by the word “listen.” But there are other fine points to take into consideration as well.
Listen to Your Customers
As you listen, look for the problem. Often, customers will be interested in getting a resolution and don’t need to share all their thoughts and feelings about the situation. If you get them talking about their feelings, it is easy for them to just keep going on and on with no actual solutions being discussed at all.
Make sure that your attention is undivided. Whatever is happening in the background can wait until after the visit, call, or chat is complete. Even if something seems like it will be brief and easy to deal with, it’s less important than the customer who should have your complete attention.
So how do you know when enough is enough? When should you say “stop”?” The best way is to ask questions like: “How can I help?” or “What would solving this problem mean for you?” These simple questions will help guide your customer down a path towards a solution without letting them go off on tangents that lead nowhere.
Avoid Passing Judgment
You may have heard the customer’s complaint a thousand times before. But chances are that it’s the first time that they’ve experienced the problem. To them, it’s fresh, no matter how often the problem comes across your desk.
Avoid the assumption that you know what your customers are going to ask before they ask it. Customers may not explain their problem fully, or they may need additional information from someone else. Asking questions can help them figure out what’s wrong with their product or service and how best to proceed from there.
Restate the Problem
If you’re doing a good job, the customer will feel that you’re listening. To make sure that’s the case, repeat back what they say in your own words. If you don’t understand something and need clarification, ask questions.
Your job is to make sure that you have all the information that you need to solve the problem. By restating what they have said to you, it gives them an opportunity to hear their own words and fill in the blanks. Make sure that you have contact details for the customer so that you can keep them updated on their resolution.
Make them Happy
Customer service is more than just the product or service you’re offering. It’s also more than just solving problems. Solving the problem is the job. Making them happy is what sets you apart.
Just like how a restaurant can make or break your experience at a venue, so too can customer service make or break your experience with a company. A person’s perception of your company will also be affected by their interactions with you over the phone or online chat, so it’s important to treat them well.
Use the tools that you have available to you. Do whatever you can to avoid saying “that isn’t my job.” If they have a question that isn’t directly related to your product, take a moment to help them solve their issue. Often this takes little more than a Web search. Those moments are what will set you and your company apart from the crowd.
Remember the Person
Being good at customer service isn’t as hard as it seems when you remember that there are people behind every transaction, and everyone wants to be treated well in their interactions with other people.
Customer service is about making customers happy. It sounds simple, but it’s true. The best customer service agents are ones who know how to make the person on the other end of the phone or email feel heard, valued and understood. One of the biggest problems with having a bad customer experience is feeling like nobody cares about fixing your problem or even listening to you describe your problem, which can lead to feelings of frustration or anger. If you’re going to be good at customer service, it’s crucial that you show empathy during these interactions.
Customer service is a huge part of running any business and being successful in today’s world. It’s important to remember that everyone wants to be treated well, and it’s your job to make sure that nobody treats them better than you do.
What tips would you pass along to someone who’s entering the world of customer service? We’d love to see them in the comments.