Everyone has their own opinion on what customer service really means, but it all boils down to the same basic principles. We all like to feel a little bit special sometimes.
This blog answers some of the most frequently asked questions about effective customer service, such as:
Why is good customer service important?
What are the principles of customer service?
How to apologise to a customer for bad service?
How to handle calls in customer service?
How to improve customer service?
Good customer service can help to improve any business’ reputation. Whether it is employees who go the extra mile to make an experience special, or a sales assistant who always seems to know exactly what the customer needs.
You have probably experienced good service and know how it made you feel about the organisation responsible. The actual value of customer service is plain to see when you ask, “How can bad customer service affect a business?”
How many people do you think a dissatisfied customer will tell about their experience?
On average, a dissatisfied customer will tell 12 people about their bad customer service. That is more than double the number of people a happy customer will tell.
What’s more, social media provides a platform for people to share experiences with many others. Almost 60% of 25 to 34-year-olds will share their negative reviews online. A single post could easily be seen by hundreds of potential customers.
It may seem difficult at first glance, however the principles of customer service can be applied to any workplace. Many organisations are already using these basic ideas to improve customer experience.
Principles of Customer Service #1: Have the right attitude
Having the right attitude means giving customers the best impression possible.
It’s imperative for an organisation to make people feel that they will be delivering value to customers. A large part of this comes from employee behaviour and attitude.
Studies show 60 - 90% of communication is nonverbal. The tone of voice, expression, gestures and posture are even more important than what is said.
Principles of Customer Service #2: Focus on the positive
One tenet of good service is always focusing on what can be done rather than what can’t.
People tend to get annoyed when they are told that something can’t be done for them. Focussing on what can be done is much more likely to lead to a positive experience.
Principles of Customer Service #3: Listen
A large part of customer service lies in being able to understand what the customer wants.
It should be obvious, but one of the benefits of active listening is understanding customer needs and desires.
Principles of Customer Service #4: Clarify information
One of the biggest causes of customer dissatisfaction is having their time wasted. When an order is incorrect, or the wrong service is provided to a customer, they will have to wait for the fault to be corrected.
Fortunately, it is quite simple to avoid this sort of incident. Repeating customers’ orders or intentions back to them allows misunderstandings to be caught and reduces the chance of wasting anybody’s time.
Principles of Customer Service #5: Be knowledgeable
There are two main reasons that employees need to be knowledgeable about the products and services they sell:
Principles of Customer Service #6: Have empathy
Being empathetic ties back into knowing customers’ needs and wants. It is especially important when dealing with unhappy customers.
Principles of Customer Service #7: Prepare
Preparing ahead of time allows work to be done more efficiently. This reduces the time customers have to wait, which shows that an organisation has customer value as a high priority.
Principles of Customer Service #8: Be efficient
People hate to be put out and especially hate having their time wasted. When a customer has to repeat information they have already provided it achieves both of these.
Efficient employees help deliver the best customer experience.
Principles of Customer Service #9: Be professional
Anyone who owns or works in an organisation or business should aim to provide the best customer service experience.
Providing good service means taking it seriously and being professional about it.
Apologising to a customer for bad customer service or a bad experience can be daunting.
To quote Donald Porter, VP of British Airways:
“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”
50 to 70% of people who complain will do business with the same organisation again if their complaint is resolved.
There are few differences between customer service over the phone and in person. For the most part the service principles mentioned above still apply.
The way to improve customer service is to apply the principles of customer service to every interaction.
Excellent customer service doesn’t happen overnight. It takes training and practice to master customer service skills.
Our online Customer Service Training course contains much of the information and practices that can help to improve service levels. Get started on the path to becoming a customer service specialist today.