The following are 20 customer service skills that you can provide for your small business:
- Use positive language
- Have acting skills
- Time management
- Ability to ‘read’ customers
- Maintain calming presence
- Know your products
- Ask for feedback
- Bring back lost customers
- Conflict resolution
- Decision making
- Good communication skills
- Quick thinking
- Great listening skills
When you opened the door of your business to customers you had the intention to make profits.
And to make profits, you need to make sales. To make sales you need customers.
It is very important that you do all you can and can all you do to keep your customers coming back again and again to buy from you.
Therefore, to enable you keep your customers and get new ones, you need to master the following customer service skills.
Attentiveness is one of the most important customer service skills you need to master.
When a customer has a problem, he wants to be given the attention necessary to solve the problem.
That means more than just taking the time to fix whatever is wrong.
- making eye contact,
- listening to what the customer has to say,
- following the conversation
- and responding appropriately.
For example, your customer will not be happy if you are browsing or watching television while he talking to you.
Such behaviors are capable of putting customers off.
Customer service Skills: Use Positive Language
You must learn to use positive language for your customers.
Using In the positive language for your customers can:
- reinforce customer engagement,
- increase customer satisfaction,
- and reduce customer disengagement.
Using wrong words or phrases can upset your customers.
More often than not wrong words make them furious.
In addition, customers do not like to hear the following words:
- I cannot solve your problems
- The item you need is not available
- I do not know when we will get the next shipment
Most importantly, you should realize that customers form their impressions about you and your business by the words you use for them.
Therefore, you need to be discrete about the words you use for your customers.
Have Acting Skills
You need good acting skills to be able to relate with your customers.
Similarly, you also need to have good acting skills to engage with your business partners and others.
Furthermore, acting skills can help you to remain calm and cherry even when facing a customer who appears to be confrontational.
Acting in customer service is not to tell lies:
- it is more of listening,
- and then replying with a measured response that you believe will soothe the nerves
- and help in putting the situation under your control.
Furthermore, you need good acting skills because there could be times when you will need to solve an urgent and important problem.
With appropriate training, experience, zeal and passion for what you do, you should be able to solve most frequently occurring business problems.
Most importantly, always bear in mind that good acting skills can help you to:
- keep your customers
- attract new customers.
- And help your business to grow.
Customer service skills: Time Management
Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to:
- increase effectiveness,
- and productivity
Time management is, therefore the an important customer service skill you need to possess.
As you are probably aware, time is a priceless asset. Once spent, you cannot get it back.
Moreover, in business, every minutes counts.
For example, you do not need to spend a whole lot of time attending to a ‘customer’ who might just like to price every single item in the shop without buying.
This becomes even more of a concern when there are other customers waiting, ready and willing to buy.
Moreover, you should be intelligent enough to know when to draw a dividing line between the time needs of the customer and that of your business.
However, in other to save time, if you come across a problem that you cannot solve quickly, you can refer such problem to someone who can solve it.
Ability To ‘Read’ Customers
Another customer service skill you need is the ability to ‘read’ your customers.
Different customers might have different emotional status.
However, irrespective of the emotional status of the customer, you should be able to:
- Calm his nerves and make him to buy.
- Look and listen for subtle clues about the customer’s current moods, patience levels, personality, etc.
Therefore, your observations can enable you to provide personalized service to some peculiar customers.
Maintain Calming Presence
Another important customer service skill you need is the ability to maintain a level head at all times, even in the face of obvious provocation.
In addition, you need to be able to control your emotions you are less likely to suffer from the effects of :
- and worry.
Your calm approach can also lead you to better health and higher levels of productivity.
Beyond that, calming presence can help you to get you endeared to your customers.
For example, you could come across a customer who might put up surprising behaviors that tend to test your temper.
Similarly, there might times when you can find yourself working under intense pressure.
Therefore, in all circumstances, it is your responsibility to maintain a calming presence.
This will ensure that you achieve your objective: to get the customer to buy from you. And be happy and satisfied.
Customer service skills: Politeness
Politeness is the most important customer service skill that you can provide for your business.
It is important to be polite because it puts other customers at ease and helps build strong relationships.
Moreover, politeness also helps bring people closer so that conversations can take place.
Every customer is different. So their behaviors might also be different.
Some customers might simply be the easy-going type while others could just be the difficult type; the type that will not listen to you even when you try to explain things to him.
Therefore, you need talk to your customer politely so that you can get him to buy from you.
Remember that if, due to impatience on your part, the customer leaves without buying, you will be the looser.
After all, you need the customer more than he needs you.
Know your products
To enable you to keep your customers happy and satisfied, you must know your products in great details.
Knowing your products in detail should enable you to:
- Introduce new products to your customers
- Show them how to use new products
- Tell customers what they stand to benefit from using your products.
Furthermore, if you know your products in great details, you will be able to answer customers’ questions quickly and correctly.
Most importantly knowing your priducts in detail will enable you to attend to customers promptly.
Often times, customers are in hurry.
They do not have the time to wait for you to get solutions from someone else.
Ask For Feedback
You need to politely ask your customers for feedback. Feedback can enable you to know:
- How customers feel doing business with you
- Areas where you will need to make improvements in your business
- What customers say about the quality of your customer service
- What methods competitors are using to drive sales
- Things you are doing wrongly
- Products you could to add to your offerings
Fortunately, many companies now have answering machines that work 24/7; even at night!
Some companies have also developed a system whereby customers can be asked to open a ticket so you can interact with customer either over the telephone or online.
You should familiarize yourself with the above and other modern technologies.
Such knowledge can enable you to retain your customers and get new ones.
Remember that customers are always in the field.
They can see things you may not be able to see about your business.
Therefore, even if your business is a small one, you can ask your customers for feedback.
Bring Back Lost Customers
You may have lost some of your customers to competitors in the past.
You need to bring back these lost customers.
Excellent customer service can enable you to win back customers who have left you for one reason or another.
When customers who have left you hear that your customer service has improved greatly, some of them might come back to you.
In conclusion, according Bill Gates, “your complaining customers are your best sources of learning”.
Therefore, you should listen to your customers. Do not ignore their suggestions, criticisms, comments and observation
Ability to resolve conflicts is yet another important customer service you can provide for your small business.
There might be times when you might see customers quarreling over who came first and who came last; who needs to be served first and things like that.
Other occasions could be conflicts between customer service personnel over procedures, rules and regulations to be followed.
Therefore, in any conflict situation, you should be able to find acceptable peaceful resolution.
Therefore, in any conflict situation, you should be able to find a peaceful resolution to the issue at stake.
You need creativity to be able to effective and efficiently handle some customer service issues.
For example, a problem that has never been experienced before in your business might just pop up.
In such a situation, you should be creative enough to find an optimal solution to the problem.
Even if it means going outside company guidelines, you can do so, provided you succeed in making the customer to buy.
The whole essence of customer service is customer satisfaction.
Decision making is yet another important customer service skill you need to master.
Some decision making can be quite challenging indeed.
However, in customer service you should be able to make informed decisions.
Your decisions should satisfy the needs of your business and your customers.
Therefore, you need training, experience and wisdom to make valid decisions.
You can browse the internet to learn more about decision making.
In customer service you should be dependable at all times.
Moreover, customers want to see you as someone they can always depend on both in good and rough times.
Good Communication Skills
Good communication skill is a necessary customer service skill you must possess.
For example, you should be able to speak in simple language that your customer can understand.
Moreover, the customer should be able to understand what you have to say.
Similarly, just as you need to hear what he has to say.
You should not use commercial jargon or ‘big’ that the customer cannot understand.
It will be unfortunate if you and the customer to be speaking at cross purposes due to poor communication skills.
Therefore, the whole essence of good communication is the ability for you to speak and the customer hears.
Empathy simply means putting yourself in the shoes of the customer.
Every customer with a problem expects you to:
- Show that you share in his problems
- Know that you are standing by able, ready and willing to help him out of his problems
- Know that you can make him happy and satisfied.
Ability to think quickly is another important customer service skill you should master.
This is because often times, some customers are in hurry and want things done quickly.
Consequently, if you are not able to deliver on this expectation, you are deemed to have failed to satisfy or make them happy.
Responsiveness is yet another vital customer service skill you need to master.
Quick responsiveness is vital to enable you to keep your customers.
For example, if you delay in processing a customer’s order the customer can take his business elsewhere.
Another example would be where a customer lodges a complaint and you delay in taking appropriate action to address his problem.
Customer service skills: Great listening skills
You need great listening skills to do customer service job.
For example, some customer may not be too good in English language.
Some customers speak in low voices. Others are fast. Yet some other may stammer when talking.
In all instances, you should be able to listen carefully so that you can understand what the customer is trying to say.
Therefore, to minimize customer service issues, save time and achieve great results, you need to have great listening skills.
Patience is the most important customer service skill you need to master.
Although patience seems to be like an in-born thing, it is something you can learn.
However, if you are not endowed with patience, you can do yourself some good by learning how to be patient.
You need patience to:
- do business with difficult customers.
- Keep your existing customers
- Solve customers’ problems
- Promote the image of your business
For example, some customers might come to your shop frustrated, anxiety and worries that they never get solutions to their problems.
Furthermore, an angry customer might come to your shop complaining that an item he bought from you the other day did not meet his needs.
Some of the customers might even go the ridiculous extent of saying that you are incompetent, you do not have good manners and stuffs like that.
In each of these and similar situations, you need patience to deal with all manners of customers; the rude, the proud, the hot-tempered, the big and the small.
Never too worry about what customers may tell you.
Your only priority is ensure that they are happy and continue to come again and again.
In conclusion, customer service is very important to the success of your business.
This explains why big companies spend tons of money training and retraining customer service personnel. The do this in other to be able to maintain their share of the market and be more competitive.
Therefore, customer service is the hub of your business. It is where business is won or lost.
By Samuel Ijenhi
B. Sc. Accounting [University of Benin]
Benin City, Nigeria