What makes good customer service? Customer experience can make or break a business, as trust can impact your sales in a big way. This article will cover four approaches that can improve customer service:
- Taking ownership
- Actively listening
- Having empathy
- Learning from every interaction
A sign of bad service is putting the responsibility on the customer to find their own resolution to their query. To make your service excellent, take ownership of any customer issue, even if it’s something you can’t fix yourself.
When your customer comes to you with an issue, talk them through the process you’ll follow to solve the problem. If you can’t do it yourself, take the burden off the customer and, instead of passing them around different people, tell them that you will find the answers and come back to them.
Taking the responsibility out of the customer’s hands will make them feel their issue is moving toward resolution. Ownership shows you care about their issue and truly want to solve the problem, while saving the customer time and effort will also be appreciated. Always be transparent and tell them what is going on; if they are left in the dark about what is happening behind the scenes, they might feel insecure and not trust what you are doing – and great customer service is all about building trust.
If you do need to pass them on to a colleague or expert, explain who they are, tell them about their area of expertise and introduce them so that the customer understands why you aren’t able to help.
Part of ownership is seeing every issue through to the very end. Always follow up with your customer, and make sure everything is okay after you solve the issue. Some businesses don’t notice the power of following up because they consider the issue to be closed. But the customer will appreciate a follow-up because it shows you care about their experience and in return, they will be more receptive to using your business again.
A good rule of thumb in customer service is to listen first, then act second. Let the customer explain their issue in their own words, without any interruptions. In many cases, interrupting because you already know the solution will irritate the customer because they feel they haven’t told you all the details yet. When they feel that you have heard the full situation, they will be confident you have all the information to provide the correct solution.
Active listening involves truly hearing what the customer is saying, not trying to anticipate what will solve the problem before they are done talking. Hearing their frustration or understanding the inconvenience they have experienced will allow you to make better decisions to solve the issue or make it up to them.
Being respectful and following ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’ is never more true than in customer services. Customers want to feel that you care about their issue and value their business. Therefore, if they are confronted with someone who is just trying to solve it quickly and get them off the phone, that will not lead to a good view of your company in the customer’s eyes.
Empathise with the customer’s frustration and understand that their having to make this call or email is their last resort for help. It’s been found that customers now prefer using self-service options or a company website to find answers to their issues, so you directing a customer to a troubleshooting article will be irritating because it’s likely that they have read it already – and their issue is no closer to being fixed.
Always use empathy to determine the best outcome for the individual. For example, a young customer may be able to carry out troubleshooting steps on a piece of equipment, but an older person may not be technically proficient enough to do this. Figure out the simplest way to get their issue solved, in a way they understand.
Learning from every interaction
There are a few ways to learn from every customer interaction you deal with.
Ask for feedback
Once you’ve solved a problem for a customer, ask them directly for feedback on your service. You might find you are more likely to get a response if this is done on the phone while you’re still speaking to the customer, but you can also ask via email, or by using a survey that you send out afterwards.
By asking for feedback and any areas you can improve, it shows the customer that you are invested in improving their experience with your business. This will build trust when you respond positively and thank the customer for their honesty for both good and bad feedback.
Respond to reviews
Responding to both positive and negative reviews shows you are willing and ready to make changes to improve your customer service. As well as showing active listening to your customers, it also has an SEO benefit as Google can see that you are participating in your business reviews.
Spot opportunities to do things better
Your customer feedback may highlight areas that you can develop to give better customer service. This could range from personal development areas, such as your empathy, the length of time it took to resolve the issue or even your tone of voice, to areas of your business that could be improved.
For example, you may receive a few reviews that mention your packaging is damaged. You should always thank the reviewers for their feedback, let them know you’re working on fixing the issue, then invest in sturdier packing materials to avoid it happening again.
Building rapport, open communication lines and trust with your customers is what makes good service excellent.
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