Whatever your industry, and whatever your business, one of the most important contributors to success is ensuring that your customers and clients have an experience that makes them want to come back for more. It could be that you work in the food industry, and you want your customers to rave about how good the service is at your restaurant, winning you repeat custom and new customers based on a positive review. If you run a tech business, it could be that you want your clients to recommend you to other people in their industry on the back of speed and professionalism of service, and a fantastic product. Whatever the industry, and whoever the customers, it’s all about ensuring they have the best customer experience.
There are many ways this can be achieved, from personalised and intimate service, to fast, polite, and friendly transactions, but they all share the same basis – making your customers feel wanted, important, and cared for. The fundamental rules of good customer service are the same across the board, so if you’re interested in great reviews, repeat custom, and happy clients, read on.
Patience is a virtue
This is perhaps one of the most fundamental tenets of good customer service. When things aren’t going right, or the client’s problem is one which is not easily solved, they would prefer competent and slightly slower service than one which is rushed and results in an unsatisfactory outcome. It’s all about taking the time to understand their desired outcome, something which can be particularly difficult when they’re upset and irate. The different between good customer service and great customer service is that a great worker will take the time to patiently discuss the problem with the customer, staying level-headed, and work towards an outcome with which everyone is satisfied.
An excellent customer service worker is always watching and listening to the customer to better understand their needs. Even when the transaction is flowing smoothly, they’re listening to ensure the customer is getting everything they require, and they fully understand their new product or service, and they’re comfortable going forward. The alternative is that the customer leaves feeling more confused or uncertain than they did when they came in, which isn’t great for repeat custom. The benefit of an attentive sales assistant for the company is that they’re able to understand what the client wants, meaning they have the capacity to upsell and complete on higher sales, bringing in more revenue.
Know your product inside out
It’s crucial that all members of staff are able to explain in depth how a product or service works. They don’t need to be able to take it apart and put it back together with their eyes closed, but if they can’t answer basic questions about their product it can scream “unprofessional” to customers. Simple troubleshooting questions should be easy to answer, and set up processes should be second nature. The customer needs to leave feeling like they fully understand the product they’ve purchased, but also confident that they can come back or call if they’re unsure.
Offer feedback routes
Sometimes a member of the sales team is so amazing that customers want to feed back to the company their praise. On the flip side, it’s inevitable that occasionally a customer will leave feeling dissatisfied with their service, and they’ll want to put in a complaint to the management. In both of these eventualities, it’s important that there is a simple and clear process for them to follow – there is no point making the situation more stressful by muddying the process. To start with, it’s important that all members of the customer service team are wearing name badges on the shop floor, and if their transaction is online or over the phone that their name is given each time a communication takes place. Not only will this make feedback far easier, but it will also instil make the transaction feel more personal, and gives a sense of friendship that can really help to solidify long-term customer relations.
Keep it efficient
Going back to the importance of product knowledge, if a customer has a question they need answering, try to be able to answer it from the top of your head. Obviously, it isn’t possible to know every tiny detail of every product, so ensure that there is a speedy system in place for staff to find answers to almost any question. It’s also important that, while customers get the time they deserve with staff, that a limit is kept to. It isn’t a good use of time to go round and round on the same topic with the same customer; it has to be kept as brief as is polite, while still getting the job done. Ensure staff know that if they can’t help a customer – because sometimes things are just too far out of their range – that the correct protocol is to hand it to someone higher up the ladder and move on to help other customers. Good members of the customer service team will know instinctively when it’s time to give up and refer the complaint or concern to someone more senior.
Understand their needs
Every customer is so different that a catch-all approach to service will leave to transaction feeling stilted, impersonal, and the customer will go away feeling unappreciated and disrespected. A good member of the sales team will be able to read their customer’s body language and understand their needs. If the customer feels cared for, and their needs are met without even necessarily having to ask explicitly, they’ll go away with a positive feeling, and be far more likely to return with repeat custom. It’s also important for staff to understand a customer’s emotional state, and respond accordingly. This could be frustration, anger, and even upset as the result of a problem, and the way they’ll feel at the end of the communication is entirely dependent on how well the member of staff can read their behaviour and understand their needs. Encourage staff to look for subtle clues, such as body language, patience, general positivity and outlook at that time, and even their personality. It takes some practice, but it can make or break the transaction.
Stay level headed
People get upset, they shout, and they cry, and the real challenge to the member of the customer service team that is dealing with this person is to stay patient, and level-headed throughout, keeping the satisfactory outcome as the end goal. It can be tremendously difficult to stay calm while people get upset, so it’s seen as the mark of a great member of the customer service team. A level headed person can be a calming influence for a customer that is getting upset, so if the staff gets upset too then the situation is a whole lot less likely to find a resolution.
A member of the sales team isn’t only there to answer questions and resolve problems; it’s also important that they’re able to upsell and turn their excellent customer service into increased revenue. When a member of the team knows their product inside out, and can accurately read a client’s needs and requirements, they’re in a uniquely strong position to be able to advise them on the best product for the job. This may well be a product which is more costly or has a better profit margin, than the item they initially contacted you for, so it takes a certain amount of skilled persuasion to talk the client round. It’s also important that the customer doesn’t leave feeling as though they were press-ganged into spending more money than they originally anticipated against their will, which is why a certain amount of patience, personalisation, and understanding is required from the sales representative. When done correctly, a great member of staff can up profits and still have the customer leave feeling satisfied with their purchase and service.
Stay on your toes
In the world of customer service, absolutely anything can happen, and it’s always wise to be prepared for the unexpected. It’s important to be able to think on your feet – sometimes a customer will throw a complete curveball, and the company will not have any guidance to deal with that specific problem, so it’s down to the customer service representative to decide how best to deal with the situation. It’s important to feel confident in referring the client to someone who may be able to help them more thoroughly, whether that’s outside of the company such as the manufacturer, or the CEO of the company to deal with a more serious or complex complaint. The best member of a team will be able to deal with anything thrown their way, even if it’s by passing them on to someone more experienced so that the customer is clearly shown that their problem is being dealt with.
If you follow these simple tools and include each point within your customer service training, your clients are going to leave feeling cared for, and only have good things to say about your company, which is great for building custom.