A person walks into a store and demands a refund on a phone they purchased a month ago. The customer says it doesn’t meet their expectations and complains about how horrible the product is. They want their money back.
How does your organization’s customer service stack up against this situation? The first step is understanding the problem better. Is the customer upset about the product? Your service? Something else altogether? Once you get to the heart of it, the next step is to fix it—if your representatives can.
From hearing a client out to addressing their concerns, it’s all a part of customer service—one of the most critical functions for any organization.
What Is Customer Service?
Customer service is the full range of service a business provides to its customers. To begin with, it involves the way an organization tries to understand and meet customer needs and preferences. Components such as service quality—including after-sales service—are key determinants of ongoing customer satisfaction.
Customer service is a major concern for most organizations. It involves both internal support teams and external customer service representatives who deal directly with clients. While handling complaints might be the part of customer service that gets much of the attention, the need goes well beyond this.
Organizations also differ on the level of service required to keep customers coming back.
Think about the experience of checking into a luxury hotel. While the rich interiors, comfort and impeccable cleanliness of the room might be big factors in the comfort of the stay, what really sets these properties apart from their budget counterparts is their service. The little chocolate placed on a pillow during turndown service, activities for children in a safe playroom, additional toiletries at the ready. The benchmark for customer service isn’t the same in all industries.
The meaning of customer service is providing the support that puts users and consumers at ease, knowing that their needs will be met. They may not like to wait for a call or questions to be answered. If they’re having problems using a product, the customer service department must be there with the right solution that addresses the problem with courtesy. If the product doesn’t work, replacement or refund should be an easy-to-access option.
Variable Meaning Of Customer Service
There are many organizations with varying definitions of what good customer service is.
To provide a good customer experience. To satisfy customer needs. Helping the customer receive what they want out of the transaction. To go above and beyond what’s expected of them, ensuring that customers remain happy with the product.
These are just some of the approaches to customer service. Some of these differences are down to the needs of various industries. Others could be about the organization’s values or making sure employees have sufficient training. Many job roles involve providing some type of customer service. Training programs focus their efforts on employees who directly deal with customers like receptionists, cashiers and salespeople. But this is a misstep. Many positions within an organization are customer-facing. These are all responsible for the perceived quality of service.
Dos Of Customer Service
We’ve all been on the receiving end of subpar customer service at one point or another. No matter how great a purchase was, sometimes organizations can’t address customer needs and requests. At the very worst, they might deliver a rude response to a question or grievance.
Being able to handle complaints with professionalism is a vital skill for good customer service representatives. Happy customers come not just from providing good products but also from providing a high quality of service throughout the relationship. What are the specific needs for good customer service? Let’s look at a few of the factors:
Bake It Into The DNA
Good customer service isn’t shoehorned in as a solution to problems, it’s part of the organization’s DNA. It puts the customer at the center of all business decisions—from product design to after-sales troubleshooting. Is the product solving a problem? Is it easy to use? Is it durable? An excellent product is as central to customer service as a helpline or call center.
Make It A Two-Way Street
Organizations provide customer service because it benefits them and their clients equally. If a client sees an organization providing good customer service, they’ll be more likely to use them again and recommend them to their friends and family. That’s why excellent service makes sound business sense.
Communication Is Prime
The heart of so much of the customer service experience is good communication. Organizations must have a clear and consistent way of communicating with customers. It can be something as integral as creating the best possible user manual for a product, to having a call center where customer service executives are well-informed and helpful.
Lend An Ear
This is closely connected to communication, but important enough that it merits special focus. Good customer service demands the business listen to its customers and respond accordingly. It’s one thing to provide your customers with the information they need, but it’s another thing entirely to actually listen to their concerns and take them into consideration. If a person is shopping for a new computer, for instance, trying to sell them a machine well outside their budget will only result in frustration on both sides.
Always Give The Benefit Of The Doubt
The complaining customer isn’t always at fault. There’s always more than one side to every story, and this should be worked into staff training. Even if a support representative thinks they’ve heard a problem before, this one might be different. At the same time, they must know what to look out for when a situation is spiraling out of control. Sometimes escalating an issue is the best way to come to a suitable resolution for all involved.
Much of customer service is intuitive and based on common sense. It requires a high level of emotional intelligence and a host of other foundational skills to handle these sometimes sticky situations day to day.
Don’ts Of Customer Service
There are certain customer service behaviors that employees need to avoid. The last thing any organization wants is customers who feel they’ve been treated poorly. Here are the top customer service mistakes every business should steer clear of:
Arrogance never got anyone anywhere. No customer will appreciate rudeness. Some may also deem service personnel arrogant if they speak with a tone of voice that’s too assertive. Balancing respectfulness and helpfulness without being subservient is quite a hard task, but it’s worth cultivating.
Interrupting Angry Customers
It’s a good rule of thumb to let a customer finish saying their piece before offering a response. This shows that the customer service staff is listening. By not immediately jumping in with an answer, your employees can avoid saying something that’ll make the situation even worse.
Having A Negative Bias
All employees should be watchful of inherent biases when dealing with customers. We all have them, despite our best efforts. If an employee has an instinctive reaction against a client, it’s best that they let the situation play itself out. They should ask for help if needed. No customer wants to feel judged, and a service team that understands its own biases and prejudices and mitigates them can serve your customers better.
Showing customers that their problems are being taken seriously will lead to better customer satisfaction every time. This can be difficult if the team is understaffed or if you’re facing a series of problems with a particular product. But addressing problems promptly will go a long way toward ensuring even disgruntled customers come back for more.
There are few things that can derail long-term goals like the reputation for poor customer service. Getting it right from the outset is critical to a brand’s success. That’s where Harappa’s Compelling Communication Program can help. Strong and decisive communication is the answer to so many customer service woes. Speaking clearly and with confidence, positive body language and active listening are just some of the critical Thrive Skills your employees will learn. The program is right for anyone at the entry- to mid-level who has to work collaboratively. . Our blended, online-first program with stellar faculty will unleash the power of your customer service team today.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Customer Relationship Management, Customer-Centric Approach, Customer Acquisition and Sales Skills that will help organizations tap into employee potential.
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