Customer service is the lifeblood of most businesses. If you have clients or sell products or services to consumers, your ability to make them happy will largely serve as the driving factor which fuels your success. If your clients or customers are angry at you all the time, you better hope that your service or product is so unique and so good that they clients and customers can’t switch. In most cases, if you are successful, competition for some of your market share is always at least on the horizon. If you have crappy customer service, you might be exposed to big financial losses. Often times, poor communication in a company results in poor customer service. This is often due to the front lines (those most likely to interact with customers) aren’t given appropriate communications or expectations. Additionally, they may not be given enough responses to work with. If you are a company owner or executive, you need to hit those front lines sometimes and see what the heck is going on so you can diagnose any problems before they spread like a plague throughout your business.
So how can you make sure you are doing the absolute best you can with customer service?
First, it begins with who and how you hire. If you hire good, motivated people, that can go long ways in making sure your customer service is good. This may mean paying less people more money. If you want quality, you might well have to spend for it.
Your training program will matter. Don’t just hire customer service agents, show them the software and how to answer a call, and then leave them to their own devices. Train them on your company philosophy! Recruit really great customer service agents to serve as trainers and mentors for those who are just learning. Starbucks employees are super accommodating because Starbucks has created that culture by empowering their employees to learn best practices. They do everything the Starbucks way, which means smiling and having a more interested look on their face. They appear to care if your darn coffee is right! Your company should pass down similar philosophy! And those who perform the best should be in charge of training. It is hard to teach someone to smile, often times this is learned by watching others. Make sure you feature prominently those employees who exemplify your business motto!
Your customer service should note who they are talking to. Don’t throw trendy pop culture slang at the elderly and don’t be too formal to a millennial. Know your audience and cater your customer service engagement appropriately.
The customer is always right. I know that it has been said, but it can’t be said enough. Yes, there are extreme cases of customers taking advantage of this policy, however, for the most part, abide by it. In this day and age of online reviews, you really don’t want a build up of too many bad reviews.
If you get a bad review online (it is going to happen), be nice in your response. Don’t be defensive. However, if you are right as a business, don’t shy away from stating it. If a customer purchased something and is upset that it doesn’t have a functionality you never claimed it does, mention that. Just don’t be aggressive and defensive. Be nice. And yes, responding is the better option to trying to have the review removed. Many customers want to see how you handle complaints. This can often be an indicator of how good your customer service is. So in some ways, a bad online review can be an opportunity for you to show how great your customer service actually is.
Small talk is good. Egregious small talk is bad. The metrics matter. If you are bogged down by long customer service calls, this means more and more customers waiting to get on the line and have their needs met. Chatting it up can be a good and friendly thing to do, but you don’t want to do it so much so that you end up causing delays for other customers in need.
Don’t eat or drink during calls. Come on man! No one wants to hear the sounds of slurps and chews. Allowing your customer service team to eat or drink at their desk is fine, but make sure they understand that they should not eat and talk at the same time. It can really make your customer service sound super lazy and uncaring.
Make sure the customer agrees that his or her issue is now resolved. Saying things like, “did I resolve all your issues this afternoon?” can really help clarify that your customer service goal was met with flying colors. It leaves a good taste in the customer’s mouth after they hang up with you. You want to leave a lasting good impression.
If a customer is absurdly angry, allow them to vent. Do not get confrontational as the customer might just be spouting off accusations that they do not fully believe. Remember, they feel let down by some aspect of your product. Their anger is OK. Let them vent and have a welcoming inflection to your voice. They will likely calm down when they sense your empathy.
Customer service can be challenging, no doubt, but your ability to conquer it could be the driving factor in your product’s growth. Many companies have risen to the top of the pack just based on their ability to make customers happy. Customers are more apt to purchase a product from a place that has good customer service because the customer sees that as less risk when buying.