No matter how great the product and/or service your company offers, you’ll never be a success without stellar customer service. If your company is unhelpful, difficult to deal with, unresponsive or unreliable, any goodwill you gained over time will fly right out the window. One of the (many) keys to long-term business success is to offer exceptional customer service.
What is Exceptional Customer Service?
There are many facets to exceptional customer service, and no one of them is probably more important than any of the others. These include making the customer feel valuable, having a positive attitude, being courteous and knowledgeable, applying problem-solving skills and exceeding the customer’s expectations.
Be Friendly, Keep Calm and Positive
This is the number one rule when it comes to customer service. You won’t be able to solve every problem you meet, but trying it with a smile will almost always make the customer feel better about things. Keeping yourself calm will help the customer remain calm. Staying respectful and acknowledging the customer’s needs will help defuse a tense situation, or at least keep it from escalating.
Know Your Stuff
Excellent knowledge of the products and services you offer is vital to providing great customer service. When it comes to answering a customer’s questions, it is far more satisfying to be able to answer them yourself, rather than running it all by a string of others. However, if you do choose bring a colleague into the equation, be certain that is the person who can solve the issue in a timely manner.
Solve the Problem Quickly
Speed is king in the world of customer service. It makes you look good and that in turn is something that customers appreciate. Not making them wait — either for a phone transfer, a return email or even a trip to the stockroom — will pay dividends in the big picture.
Don’t Talk – Listen!
Most people talk more than they listen. Don’t be one of them! Just allowing the customer to verbalize their grievance is half the battle. Their previous interaction with somebody from your company might have gone sour, so now you have a chance to make things right. By expressing sympathy to and being empathetic with your customers, you’ll have a chance to strengthen your relationship with them.
Learn To Deal With Different Personality Types
Similarly, knowing how to deal with a variety of personality types is also a key to successful customer service. This advice really colors all the other points here — you will find yourself in situations where you’re going to encounter a range of customer types that are out there.. And the truth of the matter is, people aren’t all that complicated. Yes, there are always going to be troublemakers here and there, but for the most part, most people are good and simply want to be heard and have their problems resolved.
Go the Extra Mile
“Going the extra mile” means providing more than expected, doing what others can’t (or won’t) do and running interference to prevent any other problems that come along. In short, it’s going above and beyond what is expected. A follow-up with the customer after the problem is solved is another way to provide stellar service. Doing this in conjunction with the other tips here will do nothing but boost your company’s reputation and ensure repeat business from your current customer base.
The Bottom Line
Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Now, more than ever, in the era of social media and online reviews, excellent customer service is mandatory. Sloppy handling of customer concerns certainly can accumulate, and when too many of them are heaped on top of one another, your company has gotten a bad reputation, and that’s a deep hole to dig yourself out of.
Chris Capelle is a technology expert, writer and instructor. For over 25 years, he has worked in the publishing, advertising and consumer products industries.
The Balance Small Business – 8 Rules for Good Customer Service