Kieron Walker lives in New York. Prior to becoming a help desk specialist, he handled auto claims for a major insurance company.
Are you employed in a customer service occupation and looking for ways to improve your performance? Are you the owner of a company trying to become better at interacting with your clients? Below, you will find a few basic steps that can allow you or your employees to enjoy more success the next time a customer has a problem.
In today's world, every job has a customer service component to it because everyone wants to make sure that the patrons of their business walk away happy. Whether it be a dentist ensuring a patient comes back for future check-ups or a tech support analyst offering resolutions for a computer issue, we are surrounded by situations that require good customer service.
Consider the steps below the next time you interact with a client, and success will not be far behind!
1. Be Courteous
It seems like such an easy thing to do especially if you work in customer service, but the number one rule is to be as nice as possible to the customer. Customer service professionals are often the face and voice of a company, so many people will base their impressions of a business on how they were treated by the customer service department. Treat someone badly and the likelihood of there being negative publicity is high.
No matter how rough the day may be, there is no excuse for being rude to the people you are trying to help. You should speak to them with respect, and try to envision what you would expect if you were in their shoes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the customer may be upset, angry, or even embarrassed by even having to ask for help. Try your best not to make that feeling any worse than it already is.
Finally, be sure to wipe the slate clean after each interaction with a customer. There will definitely be moments where you may need to take a deep breath before helping someone else. Just make sure that you do not take out a prior bad experience on someone else who had nothing to do with it.
2. Listen and Understand
Have you ever asked someone for help, and they ended up not even addressing your problem? Just how frustrated did you feel after they gave you an answer to what they assumed you were going to ask?
When someone comes to you for help, make sure that you listen to their problem and the solution they are expecting to occur afterwards. After they finish telling you the problem, make sure that you can re-word the problem and say it back to the customer. This will show the person that you understand what they are saying, and also allow you to get more details about the problem.
If someone is upset, it is best to let them vent first before trying to offer any suggestions about how they can address the problem. Allow people to have a chance to tell their story, and then let them know what you can do to help them out in the long run. In most cases, people will realize just how upset they sound as you sit back and allow them to speak.
3. Use Your Resources
One of the most dangerous things you can do as a customer service professional is to give someone an answer that you are not sure is the right answer. If it turns out to be false, your credibility and that of the company are in jeopardy.
The way to avoid putting yourself in this position is to use your resources as best as you can before giving someone a definite answer. Your resources can be anything from company documents to memos to training manuals to the co-workers around you. At no point should you be ashamed to ask someone else a question if it means getting the customer the right answer.
4. Set Realistic Expectations/Time-Fames
This is possibly one of the most important aspects of quality customer service. Sometimes there are situations where you just cannot provide an answer right away without researching it, or you may need time to develop a solution. It just is not realistic to expect everyone to be able to solve every problem the minute they find out about it.
With that being said, if you do need to take time to do more research for someone, make sure you give that person a reasonable time-frame for when they can expect an answer. Even if you are unable to find the answer by the end of the first deadline, make sure that you contact your client to let them know your status and how much longer it will take.
If you fail to keep your customer in the loop, they will eventually start to get angry with you because they may feel that you have forgotten about their problem. They may also begin to question your professionalism, and ultimately seek a solution from someone else.
In most cases that I know of, people are more than happy to wait as long as they know what you are doing and when they can expect to hear back from you.
5. Make Sure the Problem Is Solved
Ok, so you understand what the problem is and you have researched an answer. None of this means anything if you do not take the time to make sure the answer given actually solved the problem at hand.
Take a moment to follow up with your customer to make sure that everything has been taken care of to their satisfaction. You would be amazed by how happy people are to know that you took the time out of your day to make sure they are OK. And if the problem still remains, it gives you a chance to stay on top of it and work towards an alternative solution.
6. Go Above and Beyond
It is one thing to give somebody an answer to a problem they may be having. It is another thing to answer their question, tell them why it happened in the first place, and also provide them with tips to keep it from happening in the future.
Good customer service workers answer the problem at hand. Great customer service workers find solutions and check to see what else may impact the customer as a result of the solution.
One of the best ways to go above and beyond is to look for alternative solutions. Nothing saves a company more time and makes a customer happier than being able to provide an answer as well as two or three alternative solutions in case the original answer did not work for them. This will allow the client to work down a list of possibilities rather than having to call back or visit the company each time a solution fails.
7. Take Responsibility for Each Customer
Have you ever checked up on a situation and had someone tell you that it was not their problem because they did not do it? Nothing angers a customer more than someone trying to blame another person or department for a problematic situation. In most cases, people just want their problem resolved without going through an internal blame game.
The best thing that a customer service representative can do in a situation like this is to acknowledge the problem at hand and immediately take responsibility for finding an answer. Whether that means getting the client to the correct department or just resolving the entire situation yourself, you should always look towards moving the situation to a positive ending without blaming another person.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Michael Duncan from Germany on November 30, 2017:
I've worked in Customer Support for years and these are valid principles to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!