How Good Are You at Customer Service?

By Nancy Friedman

Most of us think we’re pretty good at customer service, but can we be better? I’ve been training people on customer service for over 18 years and during that time I have learned what clients like best. Here are my ten best customer service techniques.

1.   Double-Check: Learn to use those words. Everyone loves it when you double-check something for them. Double-checking shows that you are thorough, accurate, and working hard to assist them. It sounds so good to hear, “Let me double-check that for you.”

2.   Pretend It’s You: If you’re working with a client and they need something – pretend it’s you. What would you want to have happen? What would make you happy? What would make you satisfied? Here’s a great place to remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

3.   Get Involved: Let your clients know you’re on their team. If you’re helping someone solve a problem or addressing a concern, show empathy. When callers feel as though you’re part of the package, they love it.

4.   Stay Focused: Eye contact is critical in delivering excellent customer service; it shows you are listening. Although you can’t maintain eye contact when you are on the phone with a client, you can learn to stay focused and show you are listening. Don’t type unless it pertains to what you are doing. Don’t read something while you’re on the phone with a customer. Stay focused on the caller at all times. These techniques will help you to stay focused and listen to your clients.

5.   Do Something Extra: There’s usually always something you can do for the client or caller that’s extra. In most of the cases it’s simple. Go the extra mile or be sure to end the call on an upbeat, positive note.

6.   Show Your Teeth: That means smile! There are many people who think they’re smiling, but aren’t. So my motto is: “show your teeth.” Smiling is one of the best customer service techniques there is. And, yes, you can hear a smile over the phone!

7.   Ask Questions: A super way to offer superior service is to ask questions. Build on what the client is talking about. Listen for one or two words that you can ask something about. Even a simple, “Tell me more,” will work. Once the client is talking, you will be able to help them much more effectively.

8.   Use Complete Sentences: One-word answers are virtually useless in customer service. Worse, one-word answers are perceived as rude by clients or callers. “Yes,” “No,” and other one-word responses tell the client “I’m not really interested in you or what you need.”

9.   Express Care: Most people have what I call the care gene. Some of us use it more than others. We just forget we have it. Learn to care about what your clients’ needs are. Care about what they are referring to. Care about your clients and they will take care of you.

10. Use Laughter: Laughter will lighten the load. Everyone likes to laugh, some even in the darkest moments. Take the time to laugh and enjoy working with your clients.

Put any one of these customer service tips into action and watch what happens. If you use all ten, you can expect happier and more loyal clients.

Nancy Friedman, is president of Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company, based in St. Louis Missouri. Nancy will be the keynote speaker at the 2004 ATSI Convention and is the author of four best selling books.

From Connection MagazineNovember 2003]

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