This is your time to create remarkable customer service experiences to create lasting relationships with your customers. Customer service skills.
How often, as a customer, do you experience WOW customer service … the type that you normally can’t imagine? If it is often, would you consider yourself an expert in customer service skills?
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
Average or less customer service seems like the norm in many industries. In some, it’s so common that when we provide great service, we yield customers who feel like they’ve won the lottery, if only for a moment. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Creating a customer service evangelist should not be rocket science, should it?
If you were asked to name the top 5-10 items that have the greatest influence on creating a customer service evangelist, what would your list include? Our agency often runs customer experience/service design workshops, and this question is a key exercise in the workshop.
With that said, let’s get into some specific skills that every support employee can master to “WOW” the customers that they interact with on a daily basis…
Connect and give credence to every customer
This is critical. This is where you establish rapport and begin a relationship building process. Connecting means you’re building trust that runs both ways. Do this by engaging your customer. Start by giving them your name and asking theirs. Be interested in them and what they want. Ask questions. Listen. Respond appropriately. Have a conversation with them. Be genuine.
People know whether you are genuinely interested in helping them or not. If you are, they are more likely to respond positively to you and to develop trust with you. If you are not interested, they’ll sense it. You’ll have a much harder time developing the trust you need to help them.
Customer service skills … Patience
If you don’t see this near the top of a customer service skills list, you should just stop considering customer service.
Derek Sivers explained his view on “slower” service as being an interaction where the time spent with the customer was used to understand their problems and needs better from the company.
If you deal with customers on a daily basis, be sure to stay patient when they come to you stumped and frustrated, but also be sure to take the time to figure truly out what they want — they’d rather get competent service than be rushed out the door!
Pay special attention to complaints
Remember that complaints are often your best source of insights. In a recent article on Inc., Evernote CEO Phil Libin spoke about why he loves his most negative customers. As he said in the article, customer feedback is great for telling you what you did wrong. It is not as effective on what you should do next.
Avoid criticizing specific employees but make sure everyone knows when there is bad news. Use it as a learning opportunity. Discuss what went wrong and how you might prevent it in the future.
Good service duties … attentiveness
The ability to listen to customers is essential to providing great service for some reasons.
Not only is it important to pay attention to individual customer interactions (watching the language/terms that they use to describe their problems), but it’s also important to be mindful and attentive to the feedback that you receive at large.
What are your customers telling you without saying it?
If you have a genuine conversation with your customer, you will discover insights into their wants and needs. Customers don’t always know what they want, or they might have trouble expressing it. Often people know what they want, but they’re unsure how to get it. That’s where your engagement comes in.
By asking pertinent questions and paying attention to the answers, you can discover a lot about your customer. You can help guide them to getting what they want. That’s the role you fill.
Good customer service examples … clear communication skills
Make sure you’re getting to the problem at hand quickly; customers don’t need your life story or to hear about how your day is going.
More importantly, you need to be cautious about how some of your communication habits translate to customers, and it’s best to err on the side of caution whenever you find yourself questioning a situation.
Knowledge of the Product
The best forward-facing employees in your company will work on having a deep knowledge of how your product works.
It’s not that every single team member should be able to build your product from scratch, but rather they should know the ins and outs of how your product works, just like a customer who uses it every day would.
Without knowing your product from front-to-back, you won’t know how to help customers when they run into problems.
You won’t always be able to see customers face-to-face, and in many instances (nowadays) you won’t even hear a customer’s voice!
That doesn’t exempt you from understanding some basic principles of behavioral psychology and being able to “read” the customer’s current emotional state.
This skill is essential because you don’t want to misread a customer and end up losing them due to confusion and miscommunication.
Look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, etc., and you’ll go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.
There are a lot of metaphors for this type of personality: “keeps their cool,” “staying cool under pressure,” etc., but it all represents the same thing: the ability that some people have to stay calm and even influence others when things get a little hectic.
The best customer service reps know that they cannot let a heated customer force them to lose their cool; in fact, it is their job to try to be the “rock” for a customer who thinks the world is falling due to their current problem.
This may seem like a strange thing to list as a customer service skill, but I assure you that it is vitally important.
When we empower employees, we note that many customer service experts have shown how giving employees the unfettered power to “WOW” customers don’t always generate the returns that many businesses expect to see.
That’s because it leaves employees without goals, and business goals + customer happiness can work hand-in-hand without resulting in poor service.
Sometimes the customer support world is going to throw you a curveball.
Maybe the problem you encounter isn’t specifically covered by the company’s guidelines, or maybe the customer isn’t reacting how you thought they would.
Whatever the case, it’s best to be able to think on your feet… but it’s even better to create guidelines for yourself in these sorts of situations.
This is one a lot of people didn’t see coming!
Experienced customer support personnel know that often, you will get messages in your inbox that are more about the curiosity of your company’s product, rather than having problems with it.
To truly take your customer service skills to the next level, you need to have some mastery of persuasion so that you can convince interested customers that your product is right for them (if it truly is).
Call it what you want, but a great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) are a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about.
The many memorable customer service examples out there (many of which had a huge impact on the business) were created by a single employee who refused just to do the “status quo” when it came to helping someone out.
Remembering that your customers are people too, and knowing that putting in the extra effort will come back to you ten-fold should be your driving motivation to never “cheat” your customers with lazy service.
What Have You Learned?
How about you? Do you have stories of people or companies that have completely “wowed” you with their customer service? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts.
Need some help in building better customer service for your customers? Have you noticed the growing importance of customer service you provide, especially for your marketing? Creative ideas to help enhance your word of mouth marketing?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your customer service improvement and pay for results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas for your service to customers.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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