Create a positive first impression
Whether you do business over the phone or in person, a first impression will go a long way in how a customer perceives service. If you appear unprepared or unprofessional in the beginning, this impression will linger even if it’s not true. When things go wrong, the customer’s existing perception can influence the outcome. For this reason, always strive to create a positive first impression. If you do business over the phone, use positive language and reply with clear answers.
Practise active listening to improve customer service
They say we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is the foundation of good customer service because it’s the best way to learn what customers want and don’t want. Active listening is a skill that involves fully concentrating, understanding the meaning, responding and remembering what the customer has said. When you are listening actively, you paraphrase what the other person has said and repeat it back to them. If on the phone, you will also want to listen carefully to their tone of voice to help you understand their emotional state. If in person, watch for body language for clues on how the person feels. Once you understand the problem through listening, you can take can take steps to resolve the issue.
Stand in your customers’ shoes
Don’t take anything for granted in how customers deal with you. Examine your processes and procedures from an outside perspective to determine how easy it is to work with you. For example, is it easy for customers and potential customers to contact you? Are there stumbling blocks on your website that make it difficult for people to get in touch? Closely examine all the touch points along your customer journey to uncover any issues.
Be clear in your communication
Manage customer expectations by maintaining clear communication. Whether in face-to-face customer service, on the phone or online, promote customer satisfaction by being clear. For example, if you have run out or a product, don’t say, ‘It’s out of stock’, say ‘We will get more in by Wednesday. Is that okay?’ Being clear and precise in your communication is one way to ensure great customer service.
Continuously enhance customer service skills
Training plays an important part in enhancing and maintaining the skills of service representatives. While new staff might need to learn the basics of how customer service works at your business, existing staff will need refreshing and upgrading of their customer support skills. Running regular training sessions will help you maintain and upgrade customer service skills. Also, experienced staff members can be an excellent resource for helping new staff develop good customer relationship skills.
Measure customer service to improve
Management guru Peter Drucker once said, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.’ This quote holds true for customer service. One way to measure the personal experiences of your customers is to survey them. Begin by creating a benchmark upon which to improve. This will include creating a survey that you use consistently to accurately gauge changes over time. If results begin to slip, you will know that more training and guidance are needed. If the results improve, you will know that you are on the right track for improving your customer service.