These are challenging times for customer service. Not just because of the economy, but because communication remains an ongoing challenge – and communication is the heart of customer service.
If we could all just walk in one another’s shoes, from customers to vendors to fellow co-workers, we could then gain a perspective from all sides, which would certainly ease the challenges of running a business.
But guess what? Your customer’s really don’t care about your challenging times. What they do care about is that you demonstrate with your actions and words that you do care about them!
Take a moment; take a walk on the wild side and step into your customer’s shoes . . . the reality is that without customers, no company can survive.
Listen: This skill should be as fine-tuned as your ability to speak. Listening well shows a total commitment to understanding the needs of your customer. It’s the perfect starting point to create a feeling of comfort that’s essential to customer care.
Attitude: Be positive! Your attitude is an immediate reflection to the customer of what his or her experience is going to be like with your company. If you believe in yourself and believe in your product, you have a winning combination.
Communicate: Details, details, details . . . there are a lot of them and it’s important that they be given to your customer accurately. Make a list if you must. Make it a habit to document conversations in your database so that regardless of who may be speaking with that customer, that customer’s history is readily available. Communication is the key. Respond quickly. Place a telephone call over an email if possible. A personal conversation builds trust and comfort.
Anticipate their needs; Then Go Above and Beyond: Think about what the customer might want based on what he or she has already said or asked for – i.e., more detailed information, recommendations on other products or services, or a way to cut save them money. Give the customer the benefit of your experience and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to apologize if there is a problem. Your ability to be a problem-solver speaks volumes for how much you care.
Follow Up: Customer care doesn’t stop after you’ve provided the needed information. Ask if there is anything else you can do for them or if they have any other questions.
Appreciate the Business: Always say “Thank you,” and let customers know how much you value their business. There’s nothing like being appreciated or validated for placing your business with a company. Let your customers know how much you appreciate their business. Most likely, they have a choice with whom they do business.
I strongly believe that the customer-service experience someone has with your company can make or break the long-term relationship. It mirrors how you run your business.
Have you taken a walk on the wild side lately and stepped into your customers’ shoes? If so, how was it?
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.