Customer Service, it’s a part of every interaction you have right? Whether you are a business owner, an employee or a client you simply can’t get around the fact that Customer Service can be a make or break.
The tough thing is that we live in the age of technology. We are constantly connected and have access to any little tidbit of information we could ever want at our fingertips. You don’t really need to know how to interact with real people anymore. Whilst that is amazing, it poses the question: Is the rise of technology killing the art of customer service?
I don’t mean to sound like a fuddy-duddy but I think so!
As sad as it is, I think that the days of being greeted with a big smile and knowing that the person who is there to help will go above and beyond for you are well and truly past us (except if you are dealing with the DN team course!). It would seem that we have all been sucked into our screens, and in the world at large bad customer service reigns supreme.
I am sure that you’ve experienced the type of service I am talking about. Complacent, dismissive and uninterested. It sucks. So why exactly does it happen?
You could put it down to manners or a lack of respect but ultimately I truly think it results from people simply not knowing what good customer service is. It’s a lost art. You can’t enrol in a “Customer Service” class at school and it is a real-world skill that you can’t truly appreciate or understand through a screen. You have to get out there and learn it, from others that do it well. So where exactly do you start to ensure you are meeting (and exceeding) expectations when it comes to customer service?
Smile (and look people in the eye!)
I like to smile, so this comes fairly naturally to me. If that’s not the case for you, make an effort and work on it! A simple smile can change the dynamics of any interaction almost instantly. When you look someone in the eye (and greet them with a smile) it shows that you are engaged and focussed on their wants and needs, and that is invaluable. (Actually whilst we are at it, smile when you answer the phone too! People can hear it and it makes a massive difference.)
It doesn’t matter how big or small your interactions are, follow them up. This starts with developing a system that works best for you. Buy a diary, download an app, write a post-it note, whatever works – just make it happen. You could be following up on an email, checking in to make sure someone is satisfied with their purchase, or (even better) providing someone with an update BEFORE they even have to ask for it. Anything you can do to continue a relationship past a single transaction will go a long way to making people feel valued!
You wouldn’t want to be waiting around for days to hear from someone right? So don’t be the person that makes someone wait. To show that you care, get back to everyone within 24 hours, without exception. Even if that means it’s just a quick acknowledgement email to say “Hey I’m onto this for you!”, the person on the other end doesn’t have to wonder what’s going on, and that is what you should aim for every time.
Talk (& listen!)
Not only do I like to smile, I also like to have a chat. This a bit of fun, AND it is a great tool for building relationships. By asking something as simple as “How has your day been?” you show that you are interested and want to learn more about the person you are interacting with. Here’s the kicker though, you actually have to listen to the answer! Talking AT someone will get you nowhere, listen to them though and you will gain all sorts of insights that can help you serve them better.
Know your stuff
Although it’s never possible for one person to know everything, you should absolutely make it your goal to be an expert in what you do, and how much authority you have! No one likes to be passed around from person to person looking for a resolution to their query. You should make it your mission to be their one port of call. This will not only keep them happy, but it will build a strong sense of trust that will help to foster a long-term relationship.
Really for me, good customer service comes down to actually giving a damn about the person on the other side. Show respect, be considerate and use your common sense and you have a great base to exceed expectations.