Customer service is an often overlooked but vitally important component of a successful business. Whether you're in customer service as a career, or want your business's customer service to get to the next level, here are some tried and true methods for improving your interpersonal skills.
1. Get the Right Tools
Customer service is all about human interaction, but there are many situations when the job can be handled better by using available tools, such as these CRM examples. Having software that enables you to see all of your customer's information at a glance, for instance, can be incredibly helpful during customer service interactions.
Rather than wasting valuable time asking question after question, you can know who your customer is right off the bat and can help them immediately. Using an email account to interact is inadvisable, because the format requires tons of back and forth with very little information available, and frequently frustrates more than it helps. In some circumstances, building a beneficial social media strategy will help accurately communicate with customers. Whether you're managing a team or work in the department yourself, make sure the right tools are handy to make the job easier.
2. Work on Tone
The most helpful and skilled customer service rep will fail during interactions if they don't understand how to communicate using the proper tone. Tone can make a simple request sound like a demand, and can offend or anger a customer entirely by accident. It's also important to avoid using generic phrases like "your call is very important to us," as these can indicate that the person on the other end doesn't care, or isn't a person at all.
Keep an upbeat and positive tone, while still respecting the seriousness of the customer's situation, and don't give in to the temptation to defend yourself or the company. And remember that written tone will come across differently from the same exact phrase spoken aloud. Get comfortable writing and speaking with the same tone and always screen for accidental passive aggression or sarcasm.
Another great tactic is to mirror tone. If a customer reaches out or responds with a formal, professional tone, they likely won't appreciate a casual or colloquial sounding response. In any situation, remember to treat the customer like a human, and their issue as a real problem, rather than identifying them as their tracking or case number.
3. Slow Down
You might have a full inbox or a call waiting, but do your best to avoid rushing the interaction along to get to the next one. Nothing will set a customer off faster than feeling like you're trying to get off the call, and they'll feel like you aren't giving their issue the attention it deserves. Even if you solve their problem, you'll leave them with a bad taste in their mouth, and that's going to be tough to fix later. Slow down, listen to what they have to say, and give a full response that satisfies their questions as well as solving their issue.
4. Have a Good Closer
Ending conversations is always awkward, especially over the phone. It can be tough to know what to say as you get off the line, particularly if the customer is not entirely happy with their experience. A good approach is to open up the possibility for solving other problems or answering other questions, by saying something like "is there anything else I can do for you today?" and making it clear you're happy to stay on the line longer to help them.
Once the customer has said they've had every need met, you can feel comfortable saying goodbye and getting off the line. The last impression you give the customer is the impression they'll have of the business overall, so it's important to make sure it's a positive experience.
By employing just one of these tips, you'll be improving your customer service game exponentially. You'll see the benefits immediately, and will be so glad you took the time to invest in this vital part of running a business.