In this post, we will dive deeper into the realm of customer service and explore some specific skills. Our last post detailed how to talk to customers, and included points on attitude control and willingness to solve problems. Now, we will look at three vital “skills” that when coupled with the above, will ensure a fantastic customer experience, every time.
#1 - Learn to listen
This may seem like an obvious point. However, it is in fact a skill that takes time to develop. It can be harder than assumed. First, instruct your reps (whatever the size of your company), to let the customer speak, uninterrupted, until they are finished. This may take time. Often, customers have a lot to say, as the issue has been brewing in their minds (understandably) for hours or days before they have had a chance to address it. Sometimes, they will be annoyed, and may simply want to vent first! A quick way to inflame the situation would be to cut the customer off or shoehorn in a scripted introduction. Rather, learn to be patient and still, hear the customer so that they feel respected and valued, and then begin.
#2 - Adapt
There will not always be a by-the-book response, scenario or solution. Further, there will be unusual circumstances (power outages, natural disasters, system failures) that will force reps to remain flexible and think quickly. From early on, reps need to understand that these situations will occur. Failing to prepare will lead to a “crisis” response, where reps may feel overwhelmed or stressed being that they don’t have a pre-made solution. Besides preparing for these inevitable situations by training your reps, what else can you do? For one, focus on the “Gift of Gab” again. Even if unforeseen circumstances occur, where customer data may be unavailable, for example, reps can still empathize, listen, and remain pleasant. An apology for some sort of downtime or outage will go a long way, even if the customer’s problem cannot be solved. If the customer believes the rep is genuine and the customer feels “heard” that will lead to less frustration naturally.
#3 - Know Your Customer
All customers are different, as are their temperaments, reactions, patience levels, etc. Where one customer may be happy to hear about an upgrade to your standard SaaS package, another will have no time for it. This again relates to point # 2 above. If your reps are rigid, unwavering in their scripts and only bound by one communication style, your CRM will suffer eventually. Microsoft’s 2015 report on customer service shows us that 27% of customers believe that a friendly and knowledgeable rep is the single most important aspect of a satisfying customer service experience. A stern, confidant customer who knows exactly what they want will ask for simple instructions. They will probably also want the interaction to be quick and painless. This can be gauged by listening to how the customer speaks. Are they clearly in a rush? Are they asking questions or giving “instructions?” While remaining pleasant and willing, it is important to honor this customer’s communication style, and roll with it. In contrast, a customer who appears willing to learn more and is in a good current disposition affords the rep much more room to discuss, ask questions and engage with the customer in an open-ended sense. Read your customers, understand them and interact with them based on their personality types.
It can be easy to lose sight of great customer service. This is especially true if you are a startup, or on the other extreme, a large, established, multinational corporation. However, you need to remind yourself, from time to time, just how important great customer service skills are. Neglecting customer service will gradually but surely lead to an overall decrease in customer satisfaction, your company’s reputation, and most likely, retention. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap by constantly committing to mastering the above skills.