3 Awesome Ways You Can Be a Customer Service Superstar

In honor of Customer Service Appreciation Week (Oct 2 – 6) we’re reposting three of our most popular customer service posts of the last year. For those of us who have been on  your side of the phone or email, we applaud your patience, caring and dedication.

Here’s our customer service post that originally came out in April:

Ever notice that the majority of negative reviews you read about a company is based upon a customer’s bad customer service experience rather than a bad product? It might be because most companies are wise enough to have a money-back guarantee of some sort. If you’re not happy, they’ll make it good. Even the angriest customers can be placated if you make them feel wanted and heard.

However, if your customer service is bad, watch out. Social media can explode when customer service horror stories go viral. Do you think anyone knew United Airlines’ policy on employees’ families wearing leggings before they kicked a couple of teenage girls off a flight for wearing them?  A million tweets later, most people know the story and expressed their displeasure at the airline.

There’s no doubt about it, customer service teams play a critical role in every organization. Reputation only goes so far. What you say and do is the thing your customers remember, and that is what they will tell other folks. Wal-Mart founder, Sam Walton, once said, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

In today’s tough business environment, losing customers to your competition because of poor service is unacceptable. The ability to delight your clients with great customer service is the advantage your organization needs to attract and retain customers.

But the truth is, with organizations facing tight budgets, reduced staff doing more work, and more pressure than ever before to produce results, customer service sometimes get lost in the chaos.  Your team is feeling the heat and so are you. But, by taking the time to consider these three timeless customer service secrets, you can insure that the boss—your customer—is pleased with your performance.

Know how to deal with people face-to-face and over the phone

It’s easy to deal with people who are just like you. But, when a customer has a personality different from yours—and acts and thinks differently than you do—your job gets tougher. Handling people, especially ones with a difficult personality, often depends on the method of interaction.

Face-to-face

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Keep smiling
  • Use good posture
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth
  • Don’t chew gum or eat food
  • Focus on your customer, not other tasks
  • Interpret their body movements, facial expressions and voice intonations
  • Build rapport by mimicking the other person’s actions

Phone-to-phone

  • Question thoroughly and repeat what you think you heard
  • Use voice power, pitch, pace and intonation to get your point across
  • Stay in control

Use the right customer service language

How often have you had a piece of luggage misplaced at the airport and been told, ‘We’ll try to find it’? Or, in response to a query concerning a delivery been told, ‘We’ll try to have it there tomorrow’? One of the great truths of customer service is that people do not care what you will TRY to do—they want to know what you WILL do. There is always something you can do, if only to say, ‘I’ll get back to you by 2:00 this afternoon.’

Keep your customers happy by using positive words … they make customers feel valued. The following phrases are examples that employees should know and use often.

  • I appreciate your business.
  • I’ll finish the job by …
  • When I deliver the product, it will be exactly what you ordered.
  • I’ll deliver it on time.
  • I’ll keep you informed.
  • It’s my responsibility.
  • Is there anything else I can help you with?
  • I can fix that problem.
  • I don’t know, but when can I get back to you with the answer?
  • I’ll follow up with you [pick a day and make sure you do it when you say].

 

Learn to say ‘No’

In the real world, sometimes you just cannot honor a customer’s request and you have to tell them “no.”  It’s time to learn a new, realistic way to think about complaints and complaining customers and put them in perspective. It’s about offering alternatives, giving the customers choices and focusing on what you can provide—not what you can’t.

Try using this three-step process for saying ‘no’:

  1. Acknowledge their request
    Make a short comment to let them know that you heard them, you know what they are asking for and you are considering what they said.
  2. Clarify your circumstance
    Tell them what it is that keeps you from being able to honor their request. Don’t use a tone that makes it sound like an excuse, just give them the reason. “We’re currently out of stock at our Minneapolis warehouse, which means your product will have to come from the San Jose facility. Unfortunately, that will add extra delivery time.”
  3. Offer your best alternative first
    You want to offer your clients the best possible option as quickly as you can. Empower your employees with this ability, as you want to avoid customer frustration at all costs. Deal with the repercussions later. Pleasing the customer is what matters at the moment.

The thing is … none of what we have covered is difficult to do. They are skills everyone can learn. The trick is to be able to fall back on them automatically when the situation blows up and the customer you’re interacting with is about to go supernova. However, with practice, it can be done and you will be a customer service superstar!

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