Customers are the heart of every business, and excellent customer service is what keeps everything pumping.
Creating a uniquely pleasant experience for your customers is what can set you apart from competitors and increase customer loyalty. It’s not as hard as it sounds either. There are a few basic skills that you can implement today to really up your game in the customer service department.
Below, you’ll find a list of the top 5 absolutely essential skills needed to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, along with tips on how to develop those skills.
Improving Your Team’s Customer Service Skills
Customer Service Skill #1: Patience
Customer service can be a very difficult job at times.
Sometimes, customers will come in all guns blazing and vent their anger of the day onto you.
Sometimes, they’ll take a long time to collect their thoughts and communicate what they want from you.
Sometimes, they’ll ask for services you don’t provide, or prices you cannot accept.
Sometimes, your patience and helpful attitude will be the one thing that stops a customer from leaving your company forever.
Want to have excellent customer service skills? Then the first step is to be patient – in your emails, on the phone, and in person. Whatever the customer says, it’s crucial to not lose your cool or take their comments personally.
How can you exude patience and light? The first thing you can do, is try to put yourself in their shoes, and understand the situation from their point of view. Do they still seem like they’re overreacting? Perhaps they’ve had a bad day and need you to kindly help them out.
The next step is to control your self-talk and try to stay positive and constructive because negative emotions can be addictive. Instead of saying “this customer is really starting to annoy me”, you could say “this is a tough situation, but I’m going to stay calm and do what it takes to solve the problem.” Not only will it help you solve the problem more effectively, but it also won’t leave you feeling as angry and stressed after the interaction.
Keeping your cool can help you to get through the day with relative ease, and also help you avoid potential PR nightmares if social media gets a hold of you blowing your top on someone!
Customer Service Skill #2: Efficiency
Everyone has places to go and things to do, and your customers are no exception. Quickly and efficiently giving them exactly what they want will keep them coming back to you.
Efficient employees don’t just sit back and wait for the customers to come to them; they are proactive in finding ways to raise the bar on service and anticipate customers’ needs so they can meet them as quickly as possible.
Here are a few scenarios in which you should proactively reach out to your customer:
- When changes are going to be made that will affect your customer (positively or negatively)
- Planned (or unplanned) interruptions of service
- A feature or product they’ve been requesting has become available
Proactively taking care of your customers’ interests will help to stop problems before they start.
Need reminders? 1CRM provides you with instant access to any customer’s profile, so you can see what products they’ve purchased & past interactions with your business. This enables you to anticipate their needs and plan/execute your next step. 1CRM 30-Day Free Trial
Customer Service Skill #3: Active Listening
Being able to listen to a customer’s problem, accurately assess the issue and find the best possible solution in a timely fashion is the primary purpose of all customer service representatives. Here’s a prime example of what not to do, courtesy of a Comcast customer service call that went viral:
The best example of active listening is when someone unfortunately expresses that they would like to stop using your service or purchasing your product. Upon hearing this, it’s important to try and figure out if they’re having a problem that you can fix, which would result in them not having to discontinue their business with you.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as requiring a different plan, pricing structure, or just needing a bit of assistance. However, not all customers will want to tell you why they are leaving – and they’re not required to either. So here’s where active listening comes in. Attentively listen to your customer’s needs and fulfill their requests to the best of your ability. That way, they will feel heard and depart on a high note, instead of a battle between your agenda and their own.
To help you out, The London Deanery has turned active listening skills into an acronym:
L = Look interested – get interested
I = Involve yourself by responding
S = Stay on target
T = Test your understanding
E = Evaluate the message
N = Neutralize your feelings
Customer Service Skill #4: Memory
Customers really don’t like having to remind you again and again who they are and what their relationship is to your business. It gives off the impression that you don’t value their business or have much respect for them. It also just takes up valuable time. Don’t have the best memory? Fear not. There are many resources to give you a helping hand, such as the CRM software 1CRM.
Using 1CRM, you can simply type in the customer’s name or business, and then you’ll have access to every interaction they’ve had with your business and products or services they’ve purchased from you. If available, you can even include a photo of them – so you never forget a face! CRM solutions help you to treat each customer like they’re your only one – even when they aren’t. 1CRM 30-Day Free Trial
Customer Service Skill #5: Communicate Clearly
In addition to active listening skills, it is very important that the people who come in contact with your customers daily are able to convey your policies and products to customers efficiently and accurately.
By communicating clearly, you can:
- Cut down on wait times – improving everyone’s mood while providing assistance to more customers
- Reduce the amount of emails you have to send for service cases – saving you time each day
- Increase customer confidence in your business – if you’re not sure about your policies or product information, why should your customers be?
- Reduce misunderstandings – the more you say, and the more vague you are, the more room there is for interpretation.
A good method is to think of how you would explain your service or product to a 5 year old. Use simple, easy-to-understand language that doesn’t make assumptions about what they already know about your business. It can be tempting to use jargon, especially if your business is technical, but if people don’t understand the words you’re using, you won’t get anywhere.
We encourage you to check out the Explain Like I’m Five subreddit. In it, experts distill complex topics and explain them as if the reader were five years old (without actually treating the reader like a child).
Have any of these skills made a marked impact on your own customer service experiences? Did I miss any that you’ve found invaluable?
Leave a comment below and let me know!