In teaching customer service, I see many skills for my students to learn and hone. After recent discussions with long term customers, I thought it timely to focus on some areas I feel get less attention than we think. See what you think. Here are my seven:
Seven: Embed Customer Service DNA - what does that mean? Customer service is not just a role, it is part of the fabric (or DNA) of your organisation. Everyone who works with you should be thinking “customer service” - from the front desk person to the boss/owner. The organisation's strategy should encapsulate customer service. Take customer service to the vey core of the organisation.
Six: Expertise - people expect you to know your stuff. The trust of a customer is influenced by the quality of information you provide. Never pretend to know, once a customer realises you have trodden on their trust, the relationship is over - just like personal relationships. Be informed and make sure your colleagues are informed. Know who can help when you reach your information boundary. If you don’t know the answer, say so. People respect that we do not know everything.
Five: Dependability - follow up, always. When you say you will do something, do it. Simple. Be effective with follow up. Sending an email and forgetting about it may not be enough. You may need to call. Emails are easily missed or ignored. Talk to the customer, be sure they are satisfied. If the issue takes longer to resolve at your end, call them and explain. Reassure the customer you will let them know as soon as you have an answer, and make sure you do.
Four: Empathy - how would you feel? One of the best techniques in customer service is to try to feel customer's situation. Sometimes this is not possible (if you are a nurse, you may not have experienced a compound fracture for example). In that case, try to imagine what they must go through. Talk to people who have had the same situation. If you sell clothes, what does it feel like to find you have gone up a size (or two). Feel the customer’s pain, you will then serve them with much more understanding.
Three: Research Customer success - what made them happy. What worked? What failed? Developing a feedback in your team to ensure customer service success information is understood, is a valuable tool. Customer service departments should be in daily contact with other parts of the organisation to ensure these great lessons are not squandered.
Two: Snappy service - nobody wants to have their time wasted. I have often said, tardy responses are effectively stealing. My time is very precious, taking more of it then necessary is a crime to me. A customer has to expect to invest their time if they want a result. It is our job to minimise that investment and ensure they feel they spent their time wisely. Never underestimate the offensiveness of having your time stolen.
One: Attitude - this is the big one. Everything described above comes down to attitude. How you interact with the customer is attitude. How the organisation develops involves attitude. Think about it, how do you feel about a person or organisation's attitude? Yeah, me too. Positive vibes, I feel great and act positively. Negative vibes, well, you know where that goes. From a customer’s first contact with a business, their attitude radar is set on super-sensitive. Remember; courtesy, professionalism & respect.