Effective Customer Service Tips

A woman holding shopping bags.

Customer Service Tips That Work

Customer service is one of the most important parts of running a business. Without customers, there is no business. A company with substantial walk-in traffic and lousy customer service will end up with no repeat customers.

Before you focus on marketing, it’s essential to ensure that your customer service is up to par; it’s no use getting more customers if your customer service needs improvement.

In this post, you’ll find suggestions for improving or implementing customer service in your company. Before you get to the customer service tips, let’s go over a few considerations to see customer service from a few perspectives.

What Is Customer Service:

There are a couple of ways of looking at customer service:

Problem solving and assistance is one type of customer service. The second type is how the service you offer affects the customer experience.

Let’s take a brief look at each. 

Customer Service:

When companies talk about customer service, they refer to customer assistance and dealing with customers one to one.

For example, a customer needs help to purchase the right product. Or a customer needs information about your company such as hours of operation, locations, return policy, etc. Other forms of assistance deal with problems, returns, and complaints.


A black report cover.


How Your Service Affect the Customer Experience:

Improving what you have to offer and presenting it to the customer is more along the lines of improving customer experience.

For example:

  • The treatment of your customers while they are shopping in your store.
  • The services you offer such as same-day delivery.
  • Your guarantees, e.g., no questions asked return policy.
  • Etc.

It’s an overall plan to cater to most of your customers and less of a one-to-one experience.

Both customer service and customer experience are important and necessary for continued success.

In this article, I’ll be focused on the example of dealing with customers one-to-one.

Customer Service Tips:

Let’s go through the tips below that can help you improve your customer service, starting today. Many of the tips are simple but effective. First, take some time on the ones that stand out for you. Then, think about executing them in your business as soon as possible.

1. Create Customer Service Plans:

Having plans in place for customer assistance is a good idea. It allows everyone in your company to handle customer service the same way. In addition, your plans should contain a step-by-step approach to dealing with the types of situations someone may encounter when dealing with your customers.

You must monitor the results of your plans. For example, are customers reacting positively to your procedures, or are they upset after dealing with your representative. When you have dissatisfied customers, you need to modify the plan. It’s also a good idea to update the plan from time to time.

I would create two plans. One plan is for problems and the steps to resolve them. The second is to assist customers with your products and services.

2. Provide Excellent Training:

Put in the time, effort and money it takes to train your employees to deal with customer service effectively.

The Investment:

Look at the investment as an expenditure in your company, your customers, and your team-building efforts. Also, view it as building the reputation and the strength of your business.

Let’s look at it from a different point of view. Your customers are in the hands of your customer representatives. If your customer representatives are doing a poor job, they are destroying your customer base, and the worst part about it is you won’t even know it until you see a decline in revenue, and you’ll be wondering why.

Your customer service representatives are the ones in charge of your business because you’re putting them in charge of customer service. Therefore, you must train them properly and follow up with their performance.

If you’re checking up on the performance of your customer service reps by observing how they handle it, you’re not getting the true picture because they know you’re standing there. They’re going to make sure that everything is perfect. Another way of doing this is to send someone in to verify how your customer service is being handled. This way, your team is being tested, and you’ll get feedback from the person you hired to get the information you need.

3. Escalation Plan:

A busy shopping mall.Naturally, not everyone will be able to deal with all the issues regarding customer service. Therefore, there should be a clear-cut procedure so the customer representative knows when to escalate a problem.

Escalation may be necessary if a customer is becoming abusive, out of control, and dangerous.

A customer service representative may also need to escalate an issue when they are not authorized to approve high-value transactions. Or deal with issues that are in grey areas.

For example, someone is trying to return a high-end product, but it’s past the return date. The reason for that is because the customer was in the hospital. Therefore this would need upper management approval to process the return.

When your escalation process is clear-cut, it’s better for everyone:

  • It’s better for management because employees aren’t overstepping their bounds.
  • Management becomes aware of the sensitive issues.
  • The customer is happy because a senior representative resolves their issue.

4. Set High Standards:

Setting high standards can reduce customer complaints and reduce the number of unsatisfied customers.

When your standards are high, you have fewer complaints and reduced demand for customer service. Therefore, it’s more cost-effective to implement high standards rather than dealing with customer problems consistently.

5. Learn To Empathize With Your Customers:

One significant way to improve your customer service is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Do your best to understand what they are going through and what they’re experiencing.

A woman holding 5 shopping bags.When you understand what a customer is going through and repeat it to them, it will bring their stress level down and allow them to engage with you for a solution.

For example, a customer comes in to return a cell phone charger that isn’t charging their phone.

You could say, oh, I’m sorry about that. It must be frustrating, and your phone must be dead because the charger didn’t work. Let me get you another one, and let me check it before you leave so that you have a charge on your phone and know that the charger will work. I’m so sorry for this inconvenience. I can also give you a voucher for a 10% discount on your next purchase.

If you were the customer, would you be satisfied with the resolution? Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes allows you to feel what they’re feeling and do what it takes to get it right.

6. Be Authentic in Your Response:

Authenticity is important. You can Google customer service scripts, and you’ll notice many of them don’t seem natural. Some scripts are forced. You want your customer service reps to interact naturally with your customers.

For example, you don’t want every sentence to start and end with:

  • Yes Sir
  • No Sir
  • Sir, I Apologies
  • I’m sorry

I’m sure you have heard it all. Even though you want to be polite, avoid robotic scripts.

Imagine a customer comes in complaining of how the brakes on the bike you sold them failed and cause their child to hit a tree and break their arm. Would you go by the script and say, oh, I’m sorry to hear that? Can I offer you a 10% discount on your next purchase?

Customers can easily detect a script type of response. Be authentic to keep your customers happy.

7. Practice Active Listening:

Listen to what each customer is saying. Be present and don’t be thinking of other things while they’re explaining their situation. Don’t rush the customer, and make sure your body language is expressing that you care. In other words, don’t frown, don’t roll your eyes, don’t look at your watch. Instead, offer the time needed to resolve the situation and show the customer that you are listening.

A woman walking a by a store front window.One part of active listening is to ensure that you understand. Many times people assume they understand. Minimize assumptions and listen to what the person is saying so that you can clearly understand the situation.

To prove that you are listening. You can repeat the customer’s concerns.

For example:

You can say something like, let me see if I understand correctly. Next, repeat what the customer said. It tells the customer that you understand the problem, you are focused on their issue, and it allows you to ensure that you understood correctly.

8. Use Positive Language:

When dealing with customers, you always want to use positive language to turn anything negative into a positive:

For example: 

  • Instead of saying, “we can’t do that,” say, “We can do… for you.”
  • Instead of saying It will take a week for the repairs to be completed, say, “You can pick up your computer next week!”

Turning a negative into a positive takes some work and practice. But, once you get the hang of it, you start to look at the positive in many situations. We could all use more positivity in our lives.

9. Communicate Clearly:

Your communication skills must be extraordinary. When you’re able to communicate with your customer effectively, you’ll be able to address their issues and concerns.

.Imagine if you went into a retail store to return a product and the customer service representative could barely speak the language. Wouldn’t you agree that it would be difficult to make your return? Would this experience keep you from shopping at this store?

Let’s use the same example, only this time. There wasn’t a problem understanding the representative. Instead, you weren’t getting through to the person because they didn’t listen to your concerns and interpreted the conversation differently than what you said.

Communication is a key point to help you solve problems and assist customers. In addition, strong communication skills contribute to building customer satisfaction and loyalty.

10. Know Your Products and Services:

Suppose you want to improve your customer service, whether you’re dealing with assisting a customer in purchasing a product or dealing with a complaint or return. First, you must know everything there is to know about your products, or you won’t be able to answer questions or deal effectively with your customers.

If you have a few products, it won’t be challenging to study each one of them.

When you go over your products, think like a customer? Think of questions and concerns you would have.

Let’s look at an example:

Suppose you sell glue. What questions might a customer have?

  • How long does it take to dry?
  • Is it safe?
  • What if I get it on my hands? What should I do?
  • Is it waterproof?
  • Will it work on glass?
  • Etc.

You have identified some questions your customer may have, and you studied your product.

In addition, you have a new procedure you can use when you plan to carry a new item. You can use the same procedure when purchasing from your supplier.

If you have thousands of products, it will be challenging to go through each of them. However, you could make it a point to know about each category and perform the above example on your best sellers to service your customers and respond well to their concerns.

11. Use a Solutions-Focused Approach:

A customer service representative must be solution-focused, thinking of ways to resolve the situation. They can’t be focused on the customer’s nagging or how irritating they are. Instead, they need to be concerned with coming up with a fair solution to satisfy the customer.

When you’re focused on solutions, it becomes a habit. Another benefit to thinking this way is that it spills into other areas of your business, not just customer service. As a result, you become a problem solver in other areas of your business.

12. Admit Your Mistakes:

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. So don’t be afraid to admit it and let the customer know that you’ve made a mistake.

Take whatever action you need to rectify the situation. Thank the customer for their patience and learn from your mistake.

Mistakes are part of doing business, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. The key is to learn from the mistake and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

You can even look at it as a positive situation because you may have updated your policy, learned something new, and you’re improving your customer service. So some mistakes can be a learning experience and an opportunity for improvement.

13. Ask Your Customers What They Want:

A customer representative may neglect to ask the customer what they want for a resolution because they’re afraid they can’t give them what they want.

A lot of times, a customer just wants to be heard and vent their frustrations. Sometimes you’ll be giving the customer more than what they want because you’re trying to fix the situation, and you’re going overboard.

Finding out what the customer wants allows you to either provide it or explain why you can’t fulfill the request.

For Example:

A customer asks for a replacement of a product when there is no replacement guarantee. You reply this product is not covered for a product replacement.

Here’s what we can do:

  1. We can put a rush on the repair.
  2. We will give you a loaner until the repair is complete.
  3. I will call you next Wednesday at 1:00 pm to update the status.

Once we have received your product back from the repair shop, You can inspect the repair to make sure it meets your expectations.

14. Give Your Customers a Way To Provide Feedback.

Offer your customers a way to give feedback. You can use that data to improve your customer service. For example, you can offer a way to leave feedback during customer service interactions, on their receipt, by providing suggestion boxes in your store or having a one-to-one conversation.

Three women looking in shopping bags.Not all customers will give you feedback but use the information from the customers that do. Customer feedback is a great way to get a sense of what customers are experiencing. In addition, studying customer feedback allows you to make improvements.

Unless you uncover an obvious issue, don’t make changes from one piece of feedback. You want enough supporting data to make significant changes.

15. Use Closed-Loop Feedback:

Closed-Loop feedback is when you follow up with a customer based on their feedback. When you follow up with the customer, you’re able to start a conversation, and from that conversation, you’ll be able to pick up tips and ways to improve your customer service.

So when you think about it, closed-loop feedback allows you to ensure customer satisfaction while learning more about your products and services from the people that matter most, your customers.

16. Use Customer Service Tools To Boost Speed and Efficiency:

To serve your customers better, you’ll need to use technology to track and follow up with customer complaints and resolutions. Look for a system that is user-friendly and effective. You can also benefit if you have a system that works on your desktop and a smartphone. That way, you’ll always have access to it whether you’re in the office or not.

Take some time to review the customer service systems on the market. Look for a company with a good reputation and has been in business for a while. The last thing you want is to use a system where the company goes bankrupt, and you have to start from scratch because there is no longer support for the software.

Here’s a link to the latest search results related to customer service software.

17. Track Customer Complaints:

When you track customer complaints, you have valuable data in your hands. allowing you to find trends and create corrective actions.

For example, there may be a product that people are consistently returning. With This information, you could look into that product and either rectify the situation or discontinue carrying it.

You might discover that returns are being made to a certain sales representative. This data would allow you to look at the practices of this person to see if they are misleading customers, which can destroy your business over time.

The point being when you can identify trends, you’ll be able to fix the situation and ensure it doesn’t reoccur.

Collecting data and doing nothing about it is a waste of everybody’s time. The key to succeeding with this is to analyze the data correctly and to act on it.

Conclusion:

Knowing about customer service without taking action defeats the purpose.

Customer service is one of the most important parts of running a successful business.

Take another look at the tips above, choose the ones that stand out for you, and put them to work in your customer service department to improve customer relations starting now.

Related Articles:

How To Manage Employees That Don’t Listen

 


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