by Ashley Wilson
As a business owner, customer service is critical to your success. And as an employer, that means you have to prioritize educating your customer-facing staff, so they understand and know how to deal with anyone that comes into contact with your business. Customer service training is the answer, of course, but there are a few things your employees need to know about the subject that will help them make better decisions, keep the consumer at the front of their thoughts, and excel when it comes to creating a customer-friendly environment. Let's take a look at 15 facts that every member of our team should be aware of.
Excellent service beats fast service
It can be tempting to encourage your employees to rack up sales or deal with problems as soon as possible. But the reality is your workers are better off taking their time and being patient. It helps the customer feel wanted and respected. It also ensures the customer’s problems are solved at the first time of asking. Don’t forget, when consumers reach out to your employees, they need help and support - never leave them frustrated and confused with unresolved issues.
Your employees must be actors
We all have rough days when we feel down, and there are plenty of consumers out there who seem intent on making a bad day worse. Some people are just grumpy and unhappy all the time, but your employee's job is to ensure this does not affect them. Acting will be critical if they are to retain the friendly, happy persona that all customer-facing workers need to do their jobs.
The goal is loyal customers
As Nate Holzapfel - who you might remember from ABC's Shark Tank - says, the 'old way of selling is dead.’ If you want loyal customers, they need to be tended to, rather than sold to. Make sure that your employees are aware of this and encourage them to develop relationships with your clients, that go above and beyond the standard salesperson/consumer relationship. Do so, and the positive results for your company will speak for themselves.
Customer service must be linked to goals
There are plenty of businesses out there who have excellent customer service, yet still, struggle to get the returns they deserve. There is a simple reason why - it's because their customer service is not linked to the rest of the business. Without goals, it doesn’t matter how happy your customers are - you won’t achieve results. Drive your employees to excel in customer service by setting goals and making regular checks - use a mystery shopping service, for example. It will help them learn about linking customer needs with your business goals, and your results should improve dramatically.
A good pair of ears is essential
Make sure your employees are listening to your customers, not just hearing them. There is a vast difference between the two, and the former will ensure your customers leave the store with their needs serviced. Your staff also need to watch out for body language and hidden signals - and translate what your customers are saying. For example, if a customer lets you know that they can never find their way around your website, it’s a sure sign that the UX of your site is somewhat lacking.
Keep it simple
Customer transactions only need to be as complicated as the client wants - nothing more. When a person comes into a store or visits your website, they want to get the information they are looking for or just buy a product. They don’t want to hear your life story, and they only want accurate information. Keep transactions straightforward and clear, and never leave anything in doubt.
Use positive language only
It can be hard to be positive at all times - but it is also critical. Using positive language is a central tenet of persuasion, and can help you keep customers happy, even when the news isn’t good. For example, let’s say that somebody orders a product, but it isn’t available from your supplier until next month. If you aren’t positive, you will say something like ‘I can’t get this until…’. With positive language, you can say ‘I can get this next month..’ It’s a simple difference, but it makes the customer feel you are doing everything within your powers to find a resolution.
Your employees must read minds
Mindreading is essential if you want to succeed with customer service. Every customer your employees face will be different, but all will be displaying subtle clues about their current mood and state of mind. A few books on behavioral psychology can help your employees understand how they can use these clues to create personal experiences for your customers.
Good product knowledge is not enough - your employees need in-depth knowledge if you want your customers to keep on coming back. When clients want recommendations or instructions on how to fix something, it’s your employee’s job to instruct them. Few businesses get this side of things right, particularly in retail. But, especially if you are a small, independent business, your product knowledge can often be the difference between competing with the chain stores or falling by the wayside. Only hire people that have excellent product knowledge, and encourage your employees to keep up to date with industry news and opinions.
It’s all about closing
The last things your employees say to a customer are likely to be what they remember. If a staff member ends a conversation before the client is satisfied, it’s not going to go well, so ensure your employees understand the need to ensure all their concerns have been addressed. A simple ‘is there anything else I can do for you?’ is all it takes and ensures every interaction is finished to the customer's satisfaction. We're talking about closing conversations, here, rather than closing sales - it’s vital to show your clients that you care about getting things right.
Go the extra mile
Excellent customer service is all about going the extra mile, rather than ticking boxes. Make sure your employees are aware of this, and it will do your business the world of good. Lazy service is never acceptable, and if your staff are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, it can have a tremendous impact on your reputation. Think about some of the happy customer service stories you hear about, and they will all be describing an employee putting in that all-important extra effort.
Always offer the complete service
Employees should be aware that upselling is part of a complete service, rather than a pushy sales technique. Let’s say you are a gaming store selling consoles and video games. A grandparent might come in to buy a console for their child’s birthday, and choose for the standalone console, with only one controller and an inbuilt game. Sure, the kid is going to be happy when they open their gift, but explaining to the grandparent that they might benefit from an extra controller or buying a bundle with 3-4 games could turn that happiness into ecstasy. If your employees can create compelling messages to your customers, you will be giving them better service, as well as making more profit.
Be ready for anything
Every customer is different, and every employee will sometimes be surprised by a request, action, or incident. It is essential that your staff can think on their feet and be able to deal with these curveballs. Your customer service plan won’t cover everything or anything that can occur in life, but you can prepare staff for dealing with surprises in a professional way. Run regular training sessions, and ensure that employees know who they can turn to when something out of the ordinary occurs.
Always be cool
In any customer-facing business, there will be heated moments. It could be angry customers on the phone or an argument between customers in-store. It is essential that your employees understand that their role in such incidents is to remain cool, calm, and collected. No matter what the situation is, your staff should always keep a clear head at all times, and act like a rock for customers, whether they are upset or just venting their frustrations.
Know your limits
Finally, it is important to understand that there are limits when it comes to dealing with customers. Some people just won’t be swayed or made happy by anything - and your staff should be able to recognize when these situations occur. If employees cannot help a customer, they should make it clear as soon as possible, and hand over the reins to someone who can. Trying to solve problems that cannot be solved is only going to make the customer even angrier than before, and it’s a waste of time. There should be a clear line of upscaling in such events, which eventually lead to a customer service expert or manager dealing with the client's inquiry.
OK, so there you have it - 15 things every customer-facing employee should know before working for your business. Have we missed any out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Ashley Wilson is the Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, as well as the latest addition to the Zenruption team. This INTJ has made her home in Boise, ID, New Delhi, India, Los Angeles, CA, Dallas, TX and, most recently, Portland, OR. An infovore and passionate in her quest to understand the world and all who inhabit it, she can usually be found engaging in heated political debates, listening to TED talks, quoting Christopher Hitchens, checking out the latest Wikileaks release or watching C-SPAN with her favorite feline, Molly. Say hello on Facebook and Twitter!