Customer service, if done right, can help draw positive feedback from clients and significantly improve a company’s revenue. However, failure to meet satisfactory levels of customer service can easily upset consumers and may bring about disparaging word-of-mouth advertising that would damage business’ reputation. This is the reason why a satisfactory customer representative should be able to possess certain customer service qualities.
Great customer service is not altogether an entirely new concept. Over the years, it evolved into a sophisticated and multi-faceted business asset requiring customer service staff to accommodate both offline and online customers, across borders, and even beyond traditional working hours.
A recent Foresee survey of 2013, holiday shoppers revealed that 72% of buyers are more likely to purchase additional products by the same brand—if they are highly satisfied with the store’s service. In fact, consumer experience with regards to customer service has, more than ever, became one of the most crucial differentiating factors included in a shopper’s decision-making process. This goes without saying that no matter how good their product is. If a business fails to capitalize on excellent customer service, it’s still bound for possible losses.
Included in this article are some key points to take into consideration regarding what modern customer service entails, for businesses to actively focus on servicing clients that are beyond satisfactory level.
To provide excellent customer service, hiring customer service representatives should be the primary task. Bear in mind that they should possess the following customer service qualities:
Great Communication Skills above Anything Else
Technology paved the way to so many new ways of servicing consumers, but this is not to say that the importance of customary skills has been reduced or rendered insignificant. Communication is the foundation of all successful transactions.
A perfect example of how the little things are usually what matter the most, consumers have always commended businesses whose staff are able to: Answer customer inquiries in a patient and courteous manner, interact well and are highly articulate, listen and respond to particular concerns, and are prompt when it comes to answering emails, queries, and complaints.
Advice from an infographic published on Visual.ly: “Know when to listen, when to speak and how to speak.”
In-depth Product Knowledge and Expertise
Consumers want customer service staff they could trust to provide them with accurate information regarding their products and services—those who know each detail by heart and could explain with confidence and without arrogance.
Excellent customer service also means being able to identify which products and services specifically match particular customer needs. This requires in-depth knowledge of individual offerings, as well as the ability to apply business goals and objectives in every transaction with a customer.
Members of the customer service team are expected to know the answers to all FAQs and must be able to provide these answers swiftly, especially when it comes to transactions over the phone. Hold times must be kept to a minimum and customers must be assured that all information given to them are accurate and verifiable.
At times when a certain question cannot be answered immediately, staff must inform the inquiring customer that a supervisor/superior or someone from a different department can respond and that certain measures are being done.
In cases where a superior is not available, a customer service employee must be upfront and honest with the customer. In most instances, customers appreciate the honesty.
Honesty can actually also be considered as one of the best customer service qualities a representative should have.
One of the most important things any customer service staff must possess is a problem-solving attitude, as the ideal problem solver is resourceful, creative, and able to think of solutions quickly. As most consumers usually provide limited information when raising a certain problem, the staff must be able to work without context and must, therefore, be able to think outside the box with consideration of all possibilities.
An ear for “positive language” and the ability to make certain changes in conversational patterns are also paramount qualities of a problem solver. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m sorry but the product isn’t available until next month,” it is better to say, “The product will be available for you next month.” Believe it or not, minor tweaks in sentence construction can go a long way in keeping customers happy and satisfied.
Willingness to Learn
In his article on Health Scout, Gregory Ciotti emphasized that “those who don't seek to improve what they do, whether it's building products, marketing businesses, or helping customers, will get left behind by the people willing to invest in their skills.”
Customer service staff must be willing to improve their craft, especially since the dynamics of the customer service industry is ever-evolving. If you have all the other customer service qualities without the eagerness to learn, then it won't work.
While this may sound like a general skill that’s applicable to all departments of a company/business, it is exceedingly significant with customer service personnel because their results are the most apparent and immediate.
Regular training and goal settings are highly encouraged, as well as experience-sharing among the members of a customer service team. Keep in mind that there is no better way to learn than by hearing first-account stories from people who have had to deal with particular set of problems. Doing this regularly allows the staff to brainstorm on the most effective techniques/systems that would work—when same problems come about.
Ability to Empathize
Customer problems are usually urgent, and customers can be rather impatient when it comes to having these issues resolved. However, most solutions may take time to be applied, and results aren’t immediately apparent, but part of providing excellent customer service is empathizing with customers and knowing the exact reason for their distress. This way, customers are assured that everything is being done to address their concerns.
There’s an ongoing myth in the world of business and consumers: “The customer is always right.” The customer may or may not be right, but in circumstances in which they are not, or absolutely not, customer service staff must be able to handle such conflicts in a way that does not put the blame on the customer in any way.
This can be quite tricky, yet a good dose of patience and the ability to think of a feasible compromise often does the trick. This is related to having excellent product or service knowledge, usually requiring customer service training in order for decisions aligned with the business’ goals, policies, and advocacies.
Ability to Anticipate Surprises
There are times when a problem encountered by a customer service staff isn't specifically covered in the company's guidelines, or the customer’s just difficult to handle. In situations like these, it’s important for an employee to have a quick system to help him/her deal with the matter efficiently.
“Solving the problems of tomorrow today. This not only saves times but makes for an amazing customer service,” says Jacob Firuta on his article on the LiveChat blog.
Many think that persuasion skills are only applicable to sales personnel, but it should also come in handy when dealing with frustrated customers. For example, when offering customers a solution that sounds like a compromise, customer service employee must be able to “sell” this solution without making it feel one.
While transactions conducted by consumers are the key in generating income for businesses, nothing would compare to the quality of service they have to offer. With all these factors mentioned, various organizations venturing in their chosen fields are guaranteed to get ahead among their countless competitors by putting their target market in the center of their commerce.
Nowadays, the traditional landline phone customer service that businesses have may not serve your customers well—considering that we’re living in the technology era. Having customer support in other types of network such as through online and mobile are some of the customer assistance services we have, which can take your entire customer service to a whole new level. Learn more!
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