Become a Customer Service Expert
Anyone who works in the customer service industry is surely aware that happy customers make for happy business. But with such busy schedules, how do you make sure that every customer leaves feeling satisfied? Well, at Stonebridge College, we recommend upping your knowledge by enrolling on our online customer relations course. However, in the meantime, we have collected together what we think are the 10 most important things to remember when building customer relations…
1. Listen carefully to your customers
When it comes to customer care, this is the first and foremost rule. The most successful businesses are born out of a willingness to listen to their clients. The more time you spend figuring out exactly what it is your customer wants, the more likely it is that you will be able to give it to them. We know customer service roles can be busy and staff have numerous demands on their attention, but rushing over conversations and skipping steps will only make things worse in the long run. Clients need to feel that their requirements are being taken seriously. In any situation, good customer service is impossible if you do not listen.
2. Try to anticipate your customers’ needs
You may not be psychic, but it doesn’t take supernatural abilities to predict what your customer might want. All it takes is a little experience in your chosen field. Take hospitality for example. If a customer often eats at your restaurant and always orders the same dessert but one day that dessert is selling out very quickly, you may decide to put one portion aside so as to avoid disappointing your regular visitor. Actions like this show customers that you’re paying attention. When customers feel noticed, they also feel valued. As a result of this they are more likely to return and use your services again.
3. Pay attention to your body language
As with any situation, your body language says a lot about you as a person. Crossed arms, fidgeting and poor eye contact will immediately set you off on a bad foot. Clients respond well to confident, approachable and attentive individuals, so you should make sure your actions comply with these ideals. If you’re unsure, start by relaxing and looking directly at the customer. Make sure you keep you arms uncrossed and feel free to use appropriate hand gestures to add impact to what you are saying. Leaning slightly towards your client and nodding occasionally whilst they speak can also show them that you’re listening closely.
4. Get to know your customers on a personal level
Never underestimate the value of a little conversation. Memorising small personal details and preferences from previous discussions can prove to a customer that you value them. If you adapt this approach, your customers will start to feel like guests. The more comfortable they feel, the more likely they are to use your services again in future. Even if you struggle with lists of details, something as small as remembering a customer’s name can earn you plenty of brownie points in the long run. If you still struggle with names, you could simply greet those you recognise by saying: “hello again”.
5. Go the extra mile whenever you can
When it comes to customer service, there are plenty of opportunities for you to go that extra mile. By this, we mean venturing outside the confines of your job description. Sometimes people will ask these things of you and sometimes opportunities to bend over backwards will simply present themselves. We know this can be tiring, but we promise that it’s all worth it when you see the look of gratitude on a customer’s face. Whether you are rifling through an overcrowded stockroom searching for a specific item, arriving early to suit a client’s schedule or going off-menu and cooking up a special vegan, gluten-free option; we promise your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
6. Be knowledgeable about your products
Knowledge is power. Regardless of your job role or your position within the organisation, you should always aim to be clued-up about the products you are selling or the services that you are offering. More often than not, customers will have a number of questions they want to ask before they finalise a purchase. When staff already know the answers, they are able to provide immediate and useful guidance for the customer. If they do not, the customer must wait around for the member of staff to go and discover the information. During this time the customer may lose interest in the purchase or lose faith in the company altogether.
7. Validate your customers’ concerns
If a customer is dissatisfied with a service or product you have provided and has made the decision to voice their concerns, you should respect their right to do so. Even if you believe their complaint to be petty or unnecessary, you should not make this known. Remember that the customer has chosen to spend their money at your business. This means that they have chosen you above your competitors because they had certain expectations about the products or experiences you offer. Good customer service means respecting all of your customers, listening to these concerns and trying your best to relate to them.
8. Make sure to fix your mistakes
All companies make mistakes, no matter how successful they are. However what separates the good companies from the excellent ones, is that the excellent companies go above and beyond to fix these mistakes. It is all very well apologising for what has gone wrong and – don’t get us wrong – a sincere, heartfelt apology can go a long way. However, customers prefer actions over words. If you or your company has made a mistake and you can see a solution, don’t hesitate to make things right. On many occasions, understanding customers will be even more grateful once they see the effort you have gone to.
9. Remember to think long term
When it comes to customer service, many people are guilty of focusing on the present rather than looking into the future. For example, when starting out in business, proprietors may be worried about funds. However, if you start out by providing your clients with a financial incentive to buy your product or use your service, they are more likely to use it again in the future. More established organisations may consider offering incentives for new customers and providing their loyal patrons with a number of benefits to make sure they continue to come back.
10. Ask for feedback on a regular basis
Feedback is always important, even if you work for an established brand. Society, businesses and people are always changing, so it is important that you keep up with these changes. Regular feedback from your customers can help you to stay ahead of the game. Companies who listen to suggestions and adapt accordingly are more likely to maintain a strong client base. Furthermore, when customers see that you are listening to their suggestions, they will feel like their opinions are valued and are more likely to return in future.