Exceeding customer expectations is crucial to the success of any business; word of mouth recommendations and referrals can be extremely powerful in generating new business and it is therefore important the service provided is memorable for the right reasons.
Here are 9 tips for providing excellent customer service that can be applied to any business:
- Patience – Patience is an important attribute of customer service and a skill that every front facing employee should possess, regardless of their role. There are many challenging situations within customer service where your patience will be tested. When in frustrating situations, breath, think and then talk. Empathising with the customer and understanding their feelings will demonstrate you have a genuine interest in their needs. On occasions, customers can also deviate from an agreed plan and ‘move the goal posts’ which will require you to be patient, adapt to the surprise and provide assistance to define their objectives and create a new plan of action.
- Accessibility – Being contactable and approachable is key to building strong relationships with customers. Customers want to feel they can come to you for support at any time and if they are unable to do so, it can create negative feelings towards you and your business. Ensure you provide your customers with multiple communication channels, such as direct dials, mobile and e-mail. If you are out of the office, ensure a suitable contact is available to deal with any communications in your absence.
- Clear and concise communications – Excellent customer service cannot be provided without clear communication, listening to customers and conveying clear messages will enhance the customer experience. Using jargon, acronyms and language inappropriate for the customer’s level of knowledge and understanding should be avoided. It is also important to select the correct method of communication such as e-mail or telephone, depending on the objective of the communications and the customers preferred method; if a customer has asked to be contacted via e-mail but they receive multiple telephone calls it can create frustration and a negative experience for the customer.
- Know your business – It is essential to obtain a good level of knowledge and understanding of the business, products and services you represent. Being capable of answering your customer’s questions appropriately is crucial, especially if you are in an advisory position. If a customer requires information that is not within your area of expertise, be honest and refer to them to a member of your team that will be able to further assist them.
- Positivity – Demonstrating positivity in situations that may appear negative is a valuable skill and the inability to do so can damage your relationships with customers. By remaining positive but also realistic, you will provide reassurance to your customer and as a result they will feel confident in your abilities to find a suitable solution. When communicating with customers it is also important to use positive language, whether it be by phone or email, your customers should feel that you are genuinely pleased to hear from them and you are happy to assist. Remember, negativity rarely serves a purpose for both you and your customers.
- Time management – Customers ultimately want results and they don’t want to wait for long periods of time to receive them! The ability to appropriately manage and prioritise the tasks that are presented to you is essential and is part of being a professional. Know exactly how long each task will take you and provide your customers with an appropriate timeframe of when they are going to receive the information they require; if a deadline is not going to be met, be honest and give a valid reason, customers do not want to hear ‘I’m busy’ as 99.9% of the working population can say the same thing!
- Only make promises you can keep – Making promises to customers that you cannot deliver is unprofessional and can have a damaging effect on your reputation. Always ensure you are in a good position to make any promises and have the authority to make the decision. For example, promising to deliver a piece of work within an hour, when realistically half a day is a more suitable timeframe, then you are setting yourself up for failure from the beginning and your customer may feel you are untrustworthy.
- Tenacity – Not all tasks are glamorous and will require an element of determination, perseverance and self-motivation to complete them. Being proactive and goal-orientated is paramount to delivering excellence and customers will appreciate your efforts.
- Liaising with other suppliers – On occasions, customers may require you to liaise with another supplier and the ability to do so effortlessly is imperative to providing a good service. It is essential the two suppliers are united and can be trusted to work together to deliver the intended outcomes. This can be easier said than done, especially if there is a conflict of interest but it is vital each party undertakes their tasks with the upmost professionalism and a quality service is provided to the customer. An inability to liaise with other suppliers is likely to leave the customer feeling frustrated and a positive image of yourself and your business will not be projected.
If you need support to improve your customer experience or map your customer journey, get in touch today: EstherM@NineFeetTall.com