Be it online, in person, or over the phone, there’s one thing that we eventually learn about customer service:
And finding people who are great at it (and possibly even enjoy it!) can be really tough.
But the reality is that customer service is extremely important to creating a successful business! In fact, 40% of customers have said that they left a company because of bad customer service.
The harsh reality is that many businesses underestimate just how important it really is to have the right team ready to at the phones (or desks, or keyboards!) and therefore they don’t assign enough resources to ensure they deliver the highest quality customer service that they can.
If you’re concerned that your customer service team isn’t working to the best of its abilities, here’s a few tips that will help to whip them into shape!
1. Get the Right People for the Right Job.
A huge downfall for many employers looking to give great customer service, is that they assume that anyone can do it. Unfortunately, customer service requires a level of social intelligence that is often difficult to find.
- Adaptability: Customer service is all about reading the situation and adapting to it. Every customer is different, and therefore every customer service situation will be different. To ensure that your customer representative has what it takes to be adaptable, look for a willingness to learn from mistakes and the ability to switch from one task to another within the matter of a few seconds.
- Empathy: When a customer has a grievance, it’s of vital importance that your customer service rep. can empathize with that customer. If over the phone or online, this can be demonstrated through verbal cues such as “I understand” and “I’m sorry” and by repeating back the customer’s qualms/comments. In person, this can be additionally demonstrated through body language that demonstrates the person’s attentiveness and concern.
- Patience: Customers can be difficult – Even good ones! Sometimes they’re slow to give you details you need in order to help them, or they’ve suddenly been struck with the need to tell you about their grandchildren… Whatever the case may be, patience and kindness goes a long way to ensuring that these customers will stay with you in the long-run.
- Good communication skills: This is the kind of skill that I hope that all of your employees have, but it’s of crucial importance for your customer support team. Ensure that your customer support team fully understands your company’s policies, discounts, offers etc. and that they are able to communicate them clearly and accurately back to you before they hit their shifts.
- Thick skin: The last, but arguably the most important characteristic of an effective customer service representative, is thick skin. Your need people who are able to smile and nod politely, have all of the above characteristics, not take things too personally, help the customer, and end the conversation on a good note…. Even if the customer has decided that raising their voice by 3 pitches is the way that they want to communicate with them!
Customer service is a demanding job that requires your employees to always be at 100%. Many companies provide their employees with de-stress room that employees can go into for a few minutes for a breather if they’re having a difficult day.
2. Customer Service Training
Training your team members in customer service is the most efficient way to ensure that your customer service team is up to scratch. You can either pay a professional to come in and train your employees, or you can try and utilize these tactics as training exercises:
Experience Customer Service from the Competition
Have your customer service representatives interact with the competition, and then unpack the experience.
- What did they do well?
- Well did they do poorly?
- How can we improve?
Role Playing Customer Service Scenarios
Set up different customer service scenarios and run through them with your employees. Unpack the positives and negatives of the interactions to improve your employees’ customer services skills.
It’s difficult to be a great customer service representative if you don’t set clear instructions. Some examples might include:
- A limited amount of rings before the phone is picked up.
- A particular greeting.
- A particular way of ending an interaction.
- A resource where customer service representatives can find information quickly and effectively.
3. Knowledge is Power
Your customer service team should know your business inside-out. This means that you need to ensure that your customer services reps know everything from how to use the product you’re selling, to the latest information surrounding your industry, to your most up-to-date offers and promotions.
The best practice would be to ensure that your customer service representatives are given the opportunity to use the product themselves and/or have consistent in-work opportunities to read about the latest product developments.
4. A Clear Chain of Authority
Your customer service team should have a defined manager with whom they can ask questions and talk to. If you have a large customer service team, this may seem obvious to you, but for smaller businesses who may be utilizing employees in other roles to act as a customer service representative as well, this is an important one to note:
Your customer service representatives need to know who is their first point of call if they run into an issue.
This not only streamlines the process for the customer (your customer service representative won’t be running around ragged for answers) but it will also ensure that your team is functioning at a highly efficient rate.
5. Company Culture
It’s important to instill the sense that customer service is important to your business as part of your company culture. If the CEO rolls his eyes when topics around customer service arise, then your customer service representatives are likely to not take their job so seriously.
Ensure that everyone in your team understands and appreciates the importance of customer service, and that they all utilize the skills that are required of you customer service representatives with one another too.
6. Recognize Your Customer Service Team’s Efforts
When I think back on my times working in retail (now that’s difficult customer service!) I’m always reminded of one particular company who cherished good customer service above everything else. One way that they ensured that their company culture nurtured this frame of mind was by creating a “You’re Awesome!” board in the staff room.
When one of the team was complimented by a customer, another team member or manager who witnessed the interaction would write down the compliment and put it on the board with the team member’s name on it. Everyone would read the excellent customer service stories from other team members, and feel inspired to try and create their own positive experience with customers! This worked because it not only gave everyone examples of excellent customer service, but the fact that it was others who posted to the board also worked as a reward for the employee because they were being recognized their efforts.
Of course, you don’t have to have a “You’re Awesome” wall. It can be as simple as pulling someone aside and telling them they’re doing a great job.
7. Reward Your Customer Service Team
There’s a difference between recognition and rewards, and while recognition works for most of the year, it’s also important that your team understands that they will also be rewarded every so often for outstanding performance.
Be sure that you have specific criteria for rewards, such as “most positive feedback” and “fastest answering times” and that your employees understand what the rewards are for achieving each of the criteria.
8. Set Up a Compensation System for Your Customers
There’s nothing worse than when you get a new product, and it’s just not working like it should.
It’s your customer service team that are often the ones on the receiving end of a customer’s frustrations, and can become equally frustrated if they are unsure as to how to resolve the issue.
Many customers don’t just want a replacement, but they want you to compensate them additionally for the inconvenience. Having a compensation system for your customers makes your customer service team much more efficient and effective when dealing with customer grievances. Plus, it means that when they’re having a particularly difficult customer, they’re sanctioned to offer them something free to calm the storm.
9. Provide Your Customers With a Way to Leave Feedback
Hold your customer service team accountable by ensuring that customers can leave feedback after a customer service interaction. This can be done through a simple email asking for a review, or a quick survey that they can fill out at the service counter. Whatever the avenue that you encourage feedback through, it will help your customer service note areas that need improvement but also encourages them to work harder.
10. Provide Your Customer Service Team With a Way to Leave Feedback
If you really want your customer service to be the best it can be, then you have to provide your customer service team with a way to leave feedback on the way things operate. They may offer ideas for improvement, or call attention to a difficulty that might go unnoticed otherwise. In the end, it’s your team that knows the most about the reality of the job, because they do it every day.
Don’t overlook the importance of customer service for your business.
Getting a great customer service team together is as simple as getting the right people in the right place, giving them clear instructions, rewarding them for great work and ensuring that there are open avenues for feedback!
Not too bad, huh?