Keys to Improving Your Team’s Customer Service Skills
How to make sure your customer service team is skilled, empathetic, and engaged
A strong company will already have great customer relationships. But a smart company will always be asking “What is good customer service?” If you are not constantly on the lookout for opportunities to improve your customer service, then your relationships will stagnate. Here are a few customer service tips for identifying ways to better serve customers.
1. Strengthen your customer service skills
First, it’s important to make sure that your customer service team has the right skills for your managing customers’ needs. No amount of CRM software can compensate for shortcomings in this area. But what skills should you be looking for in a customer service rep?
Empathy, patience and consistency
2. Improve your customer interactions
If your staff has the necessary skill set, that’s a good start. But they still need to relate to your customers. Here are some tips for making sure customer service is both thorough and well received:
3. Look at every touchpoint
A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship. In addition to making sure the right skills are demonstrated, you need to be sure they’re being demonstrated consistently. Pay the most attention to key touchpoints, but make sure you have a full view of the customer experience, or you risk lapses in service that can really hurt business.
Admit your mistakes, even if you discover them before your customers do. This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.
Follow-up after a problem is solved. Make sure the issue stays fixed and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email, or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side
4. Make sure your reps are engaged
You can have the best customer service skills and the best training in the world, but if your reps are checked out, it won’t matter at all. Improving employee engagement is another way to make sure customers have a great experience. Dissatisfied employees are unlikely to come forward with their problems, so consider an anonymous suggestion box or an employee engagement survey to see what makes your employees tick.
5. Give your customers a way to provide feedback
No matter how proactive you are, you’ll never be able to get in front of every customer issue. To make sure you learn about the good, the bad, and the ugly experience your customers have, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback.
Whether it’s a phone survey at the end of a service call, an email survey sent directly from your CRM tool, or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website, creating a means for customers to give feedback makes it easier for you to learn what needs improvement. It also helps keep unhappy customers from voicing their displeasure on highly visible places like your social media pages.
6. Enhance your customer service strategy
Your staff may have the skills and know-how to interact with your customers. But what organizational strategies can you employ to please customers? Practice proactive customer service by making your customers happy before they come to you with problems. Here’s how:
Get personal. Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not bots and FAQs. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp) and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.
Cater to your customers. Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like? Set up focus groups, interview customers, or run a survey to get ideas.
Create communities. Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions.
Don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much–if not more–from them.