Quality customer service is the lifeblood of any good company. But sometimes, it's hard to know the right service approach with your clients, and it's easy to get frustrated.
This blog post will walk you through some of the best rules to follow in order to provide exceptional customer service to your clients.
What Is Customer Service?
On a basic level, customer service is how a company meets its customers’ needs. But really, it’s so much more than that. It’s largely about the quality of service provided to your customers on the path to fulfilling those expectations.
Customer service plays a major role in the success of your company because it dictates your customer satisfaction rate. Keeping customers happy by providing an excellent product and service is the golden ticket of every company. And the key to accomplishing this? Great customer service.
Quality of customer service is closely intertwined with your client retention rate. If people are satisfied with the service they’ve been provided, they’ll return to do business with you again and again. If they’re not, they’ll likely go elsewhere to have their needs met.
Customer Service Soft Skills Every Agent Needs to Have
To provide really great customer service, you need to start with the most basic, fundamental elements. Most of these tips have more to do with your disposition and attitude toward a situation than actual hard steps you can take toward providing service.
Nevertheless, these customer service guidelines are still incredibly important.
Be Pleasant and Friendly.
First and foremost, always greet your customer with a smile – that’s right, even if it’s over the phone. Customers don’t want to talk to service providers who are unpleasant or rude.
If you have a negative tone in your voice, a customer can quickly pick up on that, and it will instantly impact their experience.
This is a big one. Providing customer service requires an immeasurable amount of patience because you spend a lot of time putting out fires.
You might be dealing with multiple irate people throughout the day, or you might simply be negotiating a contract. Either way, it’s important to practice patience with your customers because if you lose your cool, so will they.
Know Your Stuff.
Customers like to work with experts in their field. There’s nothing worse than wasting your time talking to someone who can’t actually help you.
You should always have an in-depth, comprehensive knowledge of all your products and services. This will not only help you resolve issues more quickly, but it will also help you find the most appropriate solution to fit your customers' wants and needs.
Express Empathy and Advocate for the Customer.
Customers want to know that you empathize with their frustrations and that you really do want to help them. Whether you’re making a sale or resolving a complaint, customers appreciate having someone in their corner who is really advocating for them.
Let your customers know that you are there to help them in whatever way you can and that your primary focus is to provide them the best service possible.
Advanced Customer Service Skills You Need to Know
Once you have a good customer service approach established, there are still steps you can take to improve even further to provide the best service to your customers.
These skills aren’t just about improving your own customer service skills – they’re focused around the goal of having your whole team provide quality service as a unit, ensuring that customer service is consistent and satisfactory throughout your whole company.
Train Your Staff.
Remember, your company’s reputation isn’t set by one team member – it’s set by all of them.
If just one agent is providing quality customer service, while the rest are missing the mark, this will be seriously detrimental to your company's overall service rating.
Make sure that your company’s entire team is trained in customer service best practices. That might mean hiring someone to train each new team member (and maybe some of the existing ones), or designating the task to a current team member who already has exceptional customer service skills.
Each and every team member should have the skills to communicate with a customer effectively and in a satisfactory manner. They should have the knowledge to answer questions and the critical thinking skills to solve problems when they arise.
Your whole team should be consistently providing great customer service to each and every client.
This one isn’t always easy to do, but it’s a big step in the right direction to providing some seriously advanced customer service.
When something goes wrong and a customer comes to you with a complaint, take responsibility for the issue, regardless of what it is.
Maybe it was a software glitch, maybe the power went out, maybe it was a defective product, or maybe it was entirely a third party’s mistake. Whatever the reason, acknowledge the mistake and rectify it.
It’s not easy to take the blame – saying “You’re right; this was a mistake on our part” is not something that companies enjoy admitting to customers. But customers appreciate when a company can admit that a mistake was made and then put in the effort to make the situation right.
5 Customer Service Tips to Promote Delight
Now that you’ve got the primary skills down, there are a few more key customer service guidelines to follow to really delight your customers.
Make sure that you (and all your team members) are always doing these five things, and your customers will be pleasantly satisfied with the service you're providing!
Answer Your Phone!
There’s nothing customers hate more than sitting on hold for ages, talking to an automated message system, or constantly getting sent to voicemail. People like talking to people, not robots.
Make sure you always answer your business phone, and if you can’t, set up a strong professional voicemail to explain to your customers why you can’t come to the phone right now.
Don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
Promising services that you can’t deliver on is a surefire way to end up with a very angry client. For example, if you work at a marketing agency, don’t tell a client that you can increase their website traffic by 25 percent in one month unless you can actually deliver on that steep promise.
Set realistic expectations that can be met, and check in with your clients along the way to completing that goal.
Sometimes customers know exactly what they want, and sometimes they simply come to you with a problem or need and want a solution provided.
Take the time to really listen to your customers and acknowledge what they’re saying. If they have a complaint, acknowledging their specific problem and their frustrations is the first step to resolving the issue.
If the customer has a need to be met, listening effectively will help you understand what it is they really want and which solution will best fit their needs satisfactorily. This will likely result in less future complaints because your customers needs will be acceptably met.
No matter how good your products or services are, complaints will happen. When this happens, don’t brush them off. Listen to your customer’s complaints, and take them constructively – it’s feedback to help you improve.
That being said, don’t just listen and then do nothing. Actively take steps to resolve the issue that the customer is complaining about.
Customers are far more likely to engage in repeat business with you if their complaint was satisfactorily resolved, rather than merely listened to and shrugged at.
If your customer has a complaint, apologize for the inconvenience and frustration that it has caused, and then ask them, “How can we resolve this issue to your satisfaction?”
More than likely, the customer knows what they want and will tell you. From that point, you can work together to find a satisfactory solution for both ends.
Go the Extra Mile.
Customers always really appreciate this one, and it can come in many different forms. Maybe it involves bringing the price of a product down to meet a customer’s budget or throwing in an additional perk to a service. Or it could be as simple as sending some free branded swag to your clients to say thank you for their business.
Either way, going the extra mile to help your customers can be easy to do, and it makes a huge difference.
This is one of the most promising methods to increase customer satisfaction and retention rates because customers remember when a company goes the extra mile to make sure that they’re happy.
The Heart of Your Company
Customer service is the heart of every company. The blood that the heart pumps out – the service that you provide – is what powers your company and keeps it going.
Without good customer service practices, your company will struggle to both attract new customers and retain existing ones.
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how to be great at customer service. The rules and guidelines outlined in this post will help you improve your customer service skills drastically, so you can keep the heart of your company pumping that vital lifeblood.