Customer Service Skills That Every Employee Needs
Customer service is all about making customers happy and satisfied.
When you opened the doors of your business to the public you had the intention to acquire customers.
Happy and satisfied customers will stick with you in good and rough times.
This article is, therefore, focusing on the basic customer service skills you to fight competition and stand out from the crowd.
Customer service skills: Attentiveness
Attentiveness is one of the most important customer service skills you need to master.
When a customer has a problem, he wants to see that you are paying attention to him.
And that you are showing genuine desire to solve the problem.
That means more than just taking the time to fix whatever is wrong.
Attentiveness also means:
- Making eye contacts,
- 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 your favorite web sites while he is 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 at all times.
Customers do not want to see or hear from your language that you cannot solve his problems.
Negative language tends to make customers loose confidence in your business.
Using wrong words or phrases can make your customers angry.
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 in your choice of the words you use for your customers.
Have Acting Skills
You need acting skills to be able to keep your customers engaged.
Furthermore, effective acting skills can help you to remain calm and cherry even when facing a customer who appears to be confrontational.
Acting skills in customer service do not mean telling lies.
But it does mean:
- Listening attentively
- Focusing on the issues
- Understanding the problem
- Replying with a measured response that you believe will soothe the nerves
- And help in bringing the situation under your control.
Furthermore, you need good acting skills because there might 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 can solve most frequently occurring business problems.
Furthermore, there can be times when you need to solve urgent and important problems.
Good acting skills can help you to make appropriate decisions that can help you to:
- Keep your customers
- Attract new customers.
- And grow your business.
Customer service skills: Time Management
Time management is the process of planning and using your time to your greatest advantage.
Making optimal use of your time can help to:
- Enhance effectiveness,
- Increase efficiency
- Always meet customers deadline
As you are probably aware, time is a priceless asset. Once spent, you cannot get it back.
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 worrisome when there are other customers waiting, ready and willing to buy.
Therefore, you should be able 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 in your team who can solve it.
Customer service skills: Ability To ‘Read’ Customers
Another customer service skill you need is the ability to ‘read’ your customers.
Moreover, every customer is different and so can react differently.
Consequently, different customers might need personalized attention.
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, you must have the flexibility to handle all types of 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 provocations.
In addition, if you are able to control your emotions, you will be able to reduce your stress, worries and anxiety levels.
This, you can enjoy better health and be more effective in your business.
Beyond that, calming presence can help you to endear you 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 is can enable you to achieve your objective: to get the customer to buy from you and to make him
happy and satisfied.
Customer service skills: Politeness
Politeness is the most important customer service skill that you need to provide for your customers.
It is important because it puts 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 and expectations might also be different.
Some customers might simply be the easy going type while others can just be the difficult type; the type that will not listen to you even when you try to explain things to them.
Therefore, you need to 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 loser.
After all, you need the customer more than he needs you.
Know your products
To enable you keep your customers happy and satisfied, you must know your products in great details.
Knowing your products in detail will make it easier 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 products 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 instructions from someone else before you solve their problems.
Ask For Feedback
You need to politely ask your customers for feedback.
Often times, you can receive negative feedback.
When you do, you should address all the concerns raised by your customers..
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 add to your offerings
Fortunately, many companies now have answering machines that work 24/7; even at night!
Some companies have also developed systems whereby customers can be asked to open a ticket so you can chat with your customers directly either over the telephone or online.
You should familiarize yourself with the above and other modern technologies to upscale your business.
Such knowledge can enable you to retain your customers and acquire new ones.
Remember that customers are always in the field, looking for better deals.
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 help you to win back customers who have left you for one reason or another.
When customers hear that your customer service has improved greatly, some of them might come back.
According to Bill Gates, “your most complaining customers are your greatest sources of learning”.
Therefore, you should listen to your customers. Do not ignore their suggestions, criticisms, concerns, comments and observations
Customer service skills: Conflict Resolution
Ability to resolve conflicts is yet another important customer service skills you need.
There might also be times when you can see customers quarreling over who came first and who came last; who needs to be served first and stuffs like that.
Sometimes, there could even be conflicts between customer service personnel over procedures, rules and regulations to be followed.
Therefore, in any conflict situation, you must be able to find acceptable peaceful resolutions.
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 innovative 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 to enhance customer experience and satisfaction.
Decision making is yet another important customer service skill you need to master.
Some situations requiring decision making can be quite challenging indeed.
However, in customer service you must be able to make appropriate and timely decisions.
Your decisions should satisfy the needs of your business and your customers.
Therefore, you need to acquire appropriate training, experience and wisdom to provide exceptional customer service.
You can browse the internet to learn more about decision making.
Customers want to see you as someone they can always rely on at all times.
Furthermore, for you to be dependable you must know your job, company and your industry in great details.
Good Communication Skills
Good communication skill is a necessary customer service tool you must possess.
For example, you should be able to speak in simple language that your customer can understand.
In the same vein, the customer should be able to understand what you have have to say.
You should not use commercial jargon or ‘big’ grammar that the customer cannot understand.
It will be unfortunate if you and the customer were 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 well so that your customer can hear and understand what you are saying.
Doing so will enable your customer to respond appropriately.
Customer service skills: Empathy
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 and keep them coming again.
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 with you and you delay in taking appropriate action to address his problem.
As mention elsewhere in this article, many customers are in a hurry and want things done quickly.
Customer service skills: Great listening skills
You need active listening skills to do customer service job effectively and efficiently.
For example, some customers may not be too good in English language.
Similarly some customers speak in low voices. Others speak fast. Yet some stammer when talking.
In all these instances, you must 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 and develop.
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 impatient, the big and the small.
Never too worry about what customers may tell you.
Your only priority is to ensure that they are happy and continue to come again and again to buy from you.
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.
They 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.
Founder: Ijenhi Business Solutions