I worked as a customer support agent for many years, and I really enjoyed the role. I found it so fulfilling. Helping customers resolve issues, providing advice, and making someone’s day by going the extra mile, is very cool.
Customer support came easy for me, even in trying situations. You see, at the end of the day to provide great customer service is not rocket science. There are some simple basic rules that you can follow, and if you do, you will provide your customers with the type of support that they won’t forget.
#1 Remember, a smile costs nothing
It costs nothing to smile, but I encounter so many customer-facing staff who must think it costs a fortune. As a customer, there is nothing more off-putting than a dower faced employee. They just drain the life from you!
Of course, sometimes it’s hard to smile, you might be stressed in work, super-busy, or have issues outside of work that are weighing on your mind. However, engaging with customers with a smile is a must. It puts them at ease, makes them feel comfortable, and sets the tone for the conversation.
#2 Use positive language
The words you use and how you frame something can completely transform a situation, for the better or the worse. In customer service, you should always strive to make situations better, and that’s where positive language comes into play.
There are lots of times you will face a scenario where you might have to deliver bad news, or not be able to give a customer what they want. However, how you frame the conversion makes a big difference.
For example – Let’s say you work in a computer store, and a customer is looking for a model that is out of stock. Instead of saying, “We don’t have that in stock at the moment, you will have to wait until next month.”
You can say, “Unfortunately, we are out of stock until next month. However, I can put your name on a waiting list so you will be the first in line to get one when we restock.”
See the difference?
#3 Take ownership of customer issues
Often there are times when you will need to pass a customer issue to another team member, maybe to technical support or the sales department. In most customer service scenarios, when this happens, the person who was the first point of contact then washes their hands of the situation.
In such cases, tell the customer that although you are referring their issue to another team member, you will take ownership and be the point of contact for the customer. You will follow-up with them and keep them in the loop until their issue is resolved.
Taking ownership of customer issues in this way will put them at ease and make them feel they have a friend on their side. They also won’t feel like you are passing the buck.
#4 Listen actively
The key to any healthy relationship is effective communication. This is true when communicating with friends, family, and partners. However, it’s also for the relationships between you and your customers. And the key to effective communication is active listening.
When you listen actively to your customers, you are showing them that you care about what they are saying and that you’re fully engaged in the conversation. As you can imagine from a customer’s point of view, this is super-important. There are very few things more frustrating for a customer than feeling as though a customer agent or sales representative is not listening to them.
Active listening is all about demonstrating to the customer you are actually listing. You do this by giving them your full attention without distraction, showing empathy, nodding in agreement, asking appropriate questions, and repeating what they are saying to confirm that you understand.
#5 Respond in a timely manner
Time is precious, and when coupled with an urgent or pressing issue, it’s even more precious. In general, when customers need questions answered and problem resolved, they don’t want to wait too long for a response.
Whether it’s returning a phone call, responding to email inquiries, or resolving an issue, in today’s fast-paced world, failure to respond to customers in a timely fashion, could be the difference between gaining a customer for life or losing them to the competition.
To help improve response times, have multiple support channels where customers can contact you, such as phone support, email, live chat, and social media support. In addition, measure response and resolution times. This will ensure you are hitting the mark and allow your pin-point support channels or employees that need to improve.
#6 Show genuine empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with your customer’s feelings about a problem or situation that they are facing. It’s basically putting yourself in their shoes. And it’s the cornerstone of customer service.
A lack of empathy in support agents or customer-facing staff is a recipe for disaster. When customers need help or have issues, they are often frustrated, angry, or maybe even hostile. The best way to defuse such a situation is just by showing that you get why they are feeling this way and that you would feel the same way if you were in their situation.
The key to showing empathy is to listen to your customers actively, acknowledge their feelings, and express that you can fully appreciate why they are angry and frustrated. Even if you can’t resolve the problem, showing empathy will help placate your customer.
#7 Go the extra mile
In customer service, the expression “to go the extra mile” describes staff who go above and beyond what’s expected of them when helping customers. And when you go the extra mile for customers, it provides for an excellent customer experience.
Going the extra mile takes all shapes and forms, it could be as simple as helping bring a customer’s shopping bags to their car, or taking the time to answer all their questions, no matter how many they have, and no matter how busy you are at that moment. It might also be helping a customer resolve a complicated issue, where you go out of your way to get the job done, even if this means working extra hours.
When you go the extra mile for customers, they are not the only ones who benefit. Your business does too. Customers will reward you with loyalty, more sales, and more business through word of mouth recommendations.
Now it’s your turn
Your customers are everything, and their happiness should be one of your top priorities. After all, happy customers are loyal customers, and if you’re not making them happy, your competitors probably will.
The good news is that to provide great customer service that will keep your customers coming back and also have them recommend their friends is not actually that hard. You just need to follow some simple rules.