Customers really don’t care if you are having a bad day or just took a call from an agitated customer. What they want to know is whether you care about them. One way you can demonstrate this care is through the service you provide. But you need to make sure your actions and words reflect your commitment to excellent service.
In other words, having good service skills is one thing but making sure those skills come across properly with customers is another matter entirely.
Consistency is the key to creating an excellent service experience for every customer. If a customer had a great experience with one of your coworkers, then had a poor experience the next day or the next week with another, how would that customer rate your service? Customer service experiences are not limited to CSRs who answer the phone or greet people when they walk in the door. Every department – construction, engineering, field technicians, accounting and collections – is vital to the customer’s experience. Is every one always demonstrating the same level of excellent service in every customer interaction?
The following survey can help you determine where you are when it comes to providing consistently great service. Answer each question with a numerical response as follows: 1 is Never, 2 is Rarely, 3 is Occasionally, 4 is Often and 5 is Always.
1. I greet every customer in a courteous and friendly manner whether in person or on the phone.
2. I use the customer’s name whenever possible to strengthen my relationship with the customer.
3. My choice of words, my tone of voice and my body language clearly communicate to very customer that I care about them.
4. When a customer speaks to me concerning their needs and problems, they always have my full attention.
5. I eliminate industry jargon from my conversations with customers. I talk in plain English to make it easy for customers to understand what I am saying.
6. I am friendly with all our customers whether or not they are friendly with me.
7. When I make a promise to a customer, I follow through.
8. I identify customers’ needs and appropriately match our services to satisfy their needs.
9. At the end of an interaction with a customer, I confirm I have answered all their questions.
10. I apologize for the problem the customer has experienced and try to resolve it promptly. When a customer complains, I realize that it’s important to take ownership to create a solution, instead of passing the customer off to some other department.
11. I look at every problem from the customer’s perspective.
12. I show appreciation or create a pleasant close to their experience with me by saying thank you, have a great day etc.
Now add up the numerical answers. A score of 60 is excellent. If your score is lower than 60, your commitment to superior customer service may not always be evident in your daily customer interactions. Consistency of mood and attitude is critical in service. Treating people well – or not – according to one’s whim of the moment is not what service excellence is about.
Here are more tips that will help you improve your customer-service skills.
- Give a friendly greeting. Say “good morning” or “good afternoon,” then state your name and ask how you can help the customer.
- Smile! A smile always comes across in your tone of voice whether on the phone or in person.
- If a customer is rude, don’t take it personally. He or she is probably having a bad day and did not intend to take it out on you. Be polite and friendly. Make it a good interaction so the customer can come away with a good feeling. Perhaps you can get a smile out of the customer. Being rude back, whether intentional or not, can escalate the problem.
- Find out what your customer needs or wants. Then help them get it.
- Show customers that you care about their concerns. Listen to their concerns and work to solve the problem to the satisfaction of everyone.
- If you don’t know the answer, don’t just tell the customer you don’t know. Ask if you can place them on hold while you find the answer or ask them if you can call back. If you are going to call back, remember to get their name and phone number. Then get back to the customer promptly.
- Thank the customer for calling or stopping by.
It takes everyone in the company to create an excellent customer service experience for every customer.
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skill training for utility companies.