Customer service requires a good attitude, some confidence, and a natural inclination for helping and serving other people. Not everyone is indeed cut out for the job, but that doesn’t mean the right people are magically amazing at it.
Providing top-notch customer service is hard and takes practice, even if you’ve got the right prerequisites. More than 80 percent of customers will switch to a competitor after only one bad experience, so getting it right the first time is crucial.
The following are common areas of customer service where even good people struggle at times.
1. Active Listening
Regardless of the situation, it’s important that a customer feels heard, valued, and understood. Knowing that you understand their situation makes them feel comfortable with you and confident that you’ll take care of it.
Active listening is all about making it obvious that you understand. To do this, you must focus on the customer entirely. If you’re in person, maintain eye contact and nod your head. If you’re on the phone, verbally agree and acknowledge them at certain points throughout the conversation.
When they’ve said their part, ask clarifying questions. Even if you think you fully understand, it doesn’t hurt to verify you’re on the same page. Asking the questions also tells the customer you care about getting things right.
Finally, offer a short summary of the conversation at the end. This leaves them with no doubt that their point was well taken.
The art of active listening can be practiced with family and friends when off the clock. Asking specific questions and summarizing can be difficult. Doing it with someone you know in a situation with no real pressure helps you become more familiar with the process.
2. Positive Language
This is a simple but powerful way to tweak your interactions with customers. Positive language is calming and removes stress while establishing trust.
Start with your verbs. Always use them positively. For example, don’t say “don’t turn left.” Instead, say “turn right.” If you’re not used to this it may take some practice. Use the positive verb rule in all areas of your life while you adjust to it and practice being aware of situations where you can choose between positive or negative.
Speaking in the future tense is also a good way to remain positive. A simple phrase like “good question, I’ll look into that for you” keeps a customer present and points to a solution.
3. Create a Connection
For someone with natural people skills, creating personal connections in person and on the phone is probably easy and even enjoyable for them. When you must provide customer service over email or instant message, however, it’s much more difficult.
Difficult as it is, it’s necessary to provide a personalized experience.
Remember these tips when corresponding over email:
- Use full sentences, even when the answer is simple. Short answers seem cold, rushed, and unfriendly.
- Use Greetings. Say hello, use their name, wish them well, and add a salutation. These small details make even a short email feel personal.
- Always say thank you. Even though you’re helping them, thank them for reaching out, or thank them for choosing your company.
It may not seem like much, but small touches like this help the customer feel like they’re talking to a person instead of a robot.
4. Communicate Clearly
Improving communication skills never hurt anyone, but clear communication is extra important when working in customer service.
Even the simplest of misunderstandings can lead to disappointment, frustration, and the loss of a customer. Whether you’re dealing with customers in person, over the phone, or through email, keep the following things in mind:
- Be simple in your word choice. Customer service exchanges are not the time to practice your poetry or show off your vocabulary. You want to be as easy as possible to understand.
- Be concise. Keep things as short as possible. You want to keep the customer’s attention and not frustrate them with long, drawn-out conversations or blocks and blocks of text to read.
- Practice mirroring. If customers like small talk, chat with them a little. If they want to get right down to business, do the same, and be professional. If they joke around, joke back. This makes them feel comfortable and makes you relatable.
Never Stop Improving
It’s in everyone’s best interest that customers are satisfied and well taken care of. Therefore, constant improvement is necessary. If you’re passionate about customer service and you want to be the best you can be - start with these areas and keep moving forward.