Customer Service 101

You would think that this wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, even need to be stated but, guess what? Simply put, it’s not said enough. There are still too many people representing companies who deliver the worst customer service imaginable. Chewing gum, cursing and holding secondary conversations, being just a few examples. Therefore, I’ve outlined 6 customer service practices that should always be implemented, and practiced, during each and every transaction with a customer. These points hold true whether in-person, over-the-phone or online. This guide is meant for the newbie employee who may be 13 and getting their first babysitting gig, all the way up the chain to the veteran business owner, who may have lost touch with what creates the ultimate customer experience.

1.Customer satisfaction first… PERIOD!

it is your job to understand and satisfy your customers needs. In other words, what will fill the void and solve their problem? Being able to pinpoint this, from early on, and then creating options to solve their problem(s), will almost guarantee you have a customer for life. Or at least an ally who will sing your praises and refer others to patronize your business. Sounds easy, right? Well, unfortunately, all customers are not the same and don’t always know what they want. It’s your expertise and experience that will close the deal.

2. Under-promise and over-deliver

I remember my mother sending me to Delancey Street, in downtown Manhattan, to get some bagels. This was the first time I was allowed to go by myself. I arrived at the bakery and, after taking in a long whiff of the freshly baked bread, stated which types of bagels I wanted. I paid for my dozen and returned home. I separated the bagels by which kind each of us wanted and put them in separate containers (I didn’t want my mother’s onion bagels to touch my cinnamon-raisin bagels).. It was at that moment that I noticed we had an extra bagel in the bag! “Mom, she made a mistake and gave us an extra bagel!” My mother broke out laughing and said, “No honey. It’s called ‘a baker’s dozen”. You buy a dozen and they give you one more as a ‘Thank You’ gesture.” I think this is a great example of under-promise and over-deliver.

3.Integrity

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This, simply put, translates into “do what you say and say what you do.” If you promise a customer that you will contact them with the tracking# for their package, then do that as soon as possible. When you tell your supervisor you will have the billing report corrected and resubmitted by end of business today. Then, have it on their desk about 30 minutes ahead of time. (Closely related to #2, right?) If you practice this in your personal life, it will become a habit in your professional life, as well.
 
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4. Be genuine
 
Smile from your heart. Believe it or not, when you speak with a smile on your face, even when on the phone, the listener can “hear” that you’re smiling. Sounds crazy, I know. But it’s true. Just as when you’re frowning, that too comes across on the phone. I can’t explain it, but I know this to be true, first-hand. So, why are you not smiling when working with a customer? You may not see it this way, but every customer interaction feeds into your company’s bottom line in a positive way, or negatively

Realize this, a person may not buy from you, for whatever reason, but if they are extremely satisfied with their experience with your company, it is quite possible that they will go tell their friends and family. Therefore, they have become your social agent. Along those same lines, if a person had an unsatisfactory experience with your company, guess what? They will undoubtedly run and tell their family and friends in every way possible… social media, word of mouth and even worse… leave a bad review on your website or other online presence. I can’t figure out why, but people use more energy on negative that positive experiences… human nature, I guess. Just look at the news coverage.

5. Mind your manners

Don’t ever forget ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in every interaction. Personally, I have spoken with reps on the phone who just work my nerves with the pleasantries. But, you know what? I would call that company back in a heart beat! Why, the rep was speaking and smiling from their heart, and genuine in what they said. Couple that with customer-driven service and promises that were kept, they have a customer, and social agent, for life. Even when a customer works your last nerves with nasty comments, etc, “kill ’em with kindness”, as my mother used to say. Eventually they may soften up, but even if they never buy from you, they more than likely won’t take the extra steps to bash you or your company’s name.

6. Effective communication

I saved this point for last, on purpose. I truly feel that the above 5 points all tie in to this one. Whether you are communicating verbally or in writing (ie: live chat or email), make sure you remain professional at all times. Providing great customer service, in these situations, mean that you and the customer are on the same page at all times. You know what the customer needs to fill a void and they trust that you will do just that. For example, if a customer emails an order for four cases of blue soccer shorts, but you only have three, you communicate with them the shortage, asking if they want you to send what you have now, or would rather wait until you can ship the entire order. This would be a great opportunity to implement #2, Under-promise and over-deliver. Since you weren’t able to fulfill their order immediately, how about discounting the shipping, or something along those lines. 

The overall goal here is customer satisfaction and retention. Repeat customers should be every company’s goal. I think these points are the foundation to both. I am not an expert in any field, but have plenty of knowledge in many, all customer-focused. However, I would most certainly welcome any and all comments, suggestions and even corrections regarding any of my posts on the subject. 

 

 

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