Dealing with people can be difficult. Social batteries drain faster for some than others. As long as a job involves a product or service, it will eventually lead to a customer service-based situation. Being prepared for these encounters involves more than just a smile. Honing your customer service skills is crucial for any job and frankly, life itself.
Not only does great customer service reflect fondly on the company you work for, but also yourself as a worker. Being an outstanding representative makes you attractive for possible jobs. Exceptional one-on-one skills are an attribute that companies look for, regardless of if the potential role involves customer service.
All in all, interaction with others is needed for any job. So, having communication skills goes a long way. Here are 10 tips to improve your customer service skills.
1. Positivity Is Key
Positivity is contagious; it really is that simple. This saying goes past hypothetical thought and hippy mantras. While it is impossible to both research and quantify the transfer of emotional energy, it is a practice that has been implemented for the entirety of human history.
If you are around someone happy, do you feel happier? Exactly.
Empathic presence is the most important factor of customer service. If you keep a positive attitude and energy, tricky situations go over smoothly. Even if you fake a smile, fake it well. Being happy and positive will cause the customer to feel less hostile.
Positivity starts within yourself. We won’t ramble on about how to instill happiness in your life (more qualified sites like PsychCentral have done this better than we could). But, we can note how important it is to have customer service skills.
Take a deep breath, crack a smile and treat the customer like you are happy to see or hear from them. This goes a long way.
2. Know Your Product
This is another tip that goes without saying (but here we are, saying it anyway). Know the product or service you are working with.
When dealing with customer service inquiries, having a vast knowledge of the product helps you rectify situations and appear professional.
Simply put, if a customer is having an issue with a product or service and you are unaware of details, they are more likely to become irate. The customer wants to communicate with someone that knows what they are talking about.
Furthermore, knowing details helps fast-track solutions. If you are unaware of what problems a product could have, it will take longer to troubleshoot.
Sure, product knowledge will increase over time, but having onboard training about services is a great way to kickstart your customer service skills. Take the time to learn about your company and products.
3. Listen Intently
Nothing makes a customer more upset than feeling unheard. Ultimately, they are contacting you to express an issue. If they feel the issue is falling upon deaf ears, their likelihood of not returning or becoming angry grows exponentially.
Look at any one-star review on business-reviewing sites. Most of these complaints will involve unattentive or unresponsiveness. Avoiding this is simple. Care about each of your customers. Care about their problems and listen.
Fortunately, listening doesn’t involve ear exercises.
When you speak to a customer, keep eye contact and be attentive. If you are speaking over the phone or internet, do not interrupt until they finish their claim. When they are done expressing the issue, ask them if you heard it correctly. Restate a synopsis and ask if you understood everything.
Clarifying statements and questions let the customer know you are listening. Easy as that.
Learning how to show people you are paying attention is a skill that pushes further than customer service. It can get you far in life. Learn it.
4. Communicate Intently
Customer service skills don’t just involve listening intensively. They involve communication as a whole. Getting your point across is just as important as listening.
What are you going to do for the customer? How are you going to rectify the issue? Are you on the same page?
Speak clearly and confidently. This also comes with knowing your product and services inside and out. Do not be afraid to ask clarifying questions with your statements as well.
All in all, the customer wants the problem dealt with as efficiently as possible. Let them know what you are going to do and ask them if they understand. Unless they ask for specifics, you do not need to bog down the communication with details. Be clear, concise and positive.
Also, always end with asking if there is anything else you can do for them. This shows care (the most important emotion).
5. Respond Quickly
Continuing with efficiency, respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. Nothing makes an upset customer more upset than having time to stew over the issue.
This mostly involves online customer service. If you receive an email or chat about an issue, try to respond to it as quickly as you can. Rectifying problems efficiently not only keeps things simmered but increases customer retention.
Regardless of how positive you are, how great of solutions you offer and how much you smile, sometimes unhappy customers remain unhappy. Sometimes customers start problems to start problems. It may not be anything you did, but an unrelated source. This is part of the customer service game.
Take a deep breath. Try to remember that people are people. We all have a range of complex emotions. Sometimes someone lashing out at you does not reflect them as a person.
Keep your patience and tolerance high. The sun will come out tomorrow, as they say. Do not let things ruin your day.
Nothing escalates a problem more than frustration from both parties. Whatever you do, don’t add fuel to a fire. Working in customer service can be blood boiling, and it takes expert levels of patience and empathy.
You’ve got it, we promise.
7. Get to Know Your Customers
People love to feel like they are regulars, especially if they are continuing customers.
Empathy is more than just a trend here. As stated, it’s the most crucial cornerstone for customer service.
Some services and businesses may call for returning customer service. For example, a call center for an internet service may hear from the same customers frequently. Get to know them. Even just remembering their name will go a long way.
We will say it again. People want to feel heard and valuable. Remembering a few details about a customer can make recurring service inquiries smooth and pleasant.
If you work with customer accounts, keep solid notes on them. You should be able to look back and see their past issues and how they were resolved.
Along with this, keep an eye on reviews and social media posts about your specific business. What are people saying? You should always be able to adapt and get better.
Your customer base may change over time. Try to get a feel for them and what they respond to. Customer service work is more than just being nice in the moment. It takes understanding your audience, too.
8. Follow Through
Do not make promises to customers that you cannot keep. If you state that you will give them a refund, then provide a refund. If you report to someone above you that makes these decisions, do so before making any promises. You do not want to tell a customer you are going to do something then get denied by your manager.
Psychologically speaking, if a customer is reporting an issue with a product or service, a part of them already feels lied to. Something about the transaction did not live up to their expectations. Providing them with false rectifications can make them feel that you are lying again.
Stand by what you say.
9. Know the Escalation Path
Sometimes a customer service or help desk worker isn’t going to cut it. This may not mean negative things about you as a worker. Sometimes a customer will only speak to a higher-up. It happens.
Know where to send or transfer the customer if you cannot help their issue.
Do not argue with them if they ask to speak to someone above you. Move it up the chain of command and continue to stay polite.
10. Follow Up
We are sounding like a broken record here. Customers want to feel valued.
Make sure to follow up with a customer at a later date after their issue has been solved. This reminds them that your company exists and provides fantastic customer service.
Normally a company will have a policy regarding this. Maybe they send an email or letter after a specific amount of time. If not, suggest it!
Customer service skills require patience, empathy and fantastic communication skills. While we could draw on all of the things to learn, the only way to learn them is through practice.
Therefore, do not be afraid to get your feet wet. Jump in to help customers, even if you are not a customer service representative. Ask customers how they are doing and if they have any issues. Just work on overall customer-employee communication.
The most important skill needed when interacting with people (especially a disgruntled audience) is humanity. Remember that we are all human and all have varying issues. Do not take anything to heart and remain calm. A lot of the time, an upset customer is not angry at you specifically. But is angry with the company or something else entirely.
If you keep a collected head on your shoulders and a smile on your face, you will be able to work things out eventually.