What is customer service?
“Customer service” means just what you would imagine: serving the customer. It begins as soon as a prospective customer contacts the company; it continues into the process of doing business with that person through one or more transactions; and it extends even past that, should the customer have additional needs or issues to solve after the final transaction is done.
Customers want to feel comfortable doing business with a company. If they are uncomfortable, they will leave and likely never come back. They want to do business with honest people who have a good reputation. If they have problems after a purchase, they want to know their concerns will be addressed fairly.
Basically, customers want to feel respected and valued at every stage of their interactions with the business. Treat them well, and they will return.
Why does it matter?
Customer loyalty is a real and powerful thing.
A happy customer will likely become a repeat customer. In addition, a satisfied client often recommends that friends, relatives, and coworkers do business with a company that provides excellent customer service. Keeping customers satisfied can lead to glowing online or print reviews and testimonials. These can be posted on the company’s website or on a community review site that influences local residents.
Earning and maintaining a strong reputation puts the company in good standing with the community as well as current and future customers. Going the extra mile to make customers feel good about doing business with your company can pay huge dividends over time.
The importance of in-depth customer service training
A company that takes customer satisfaction seriously should make it a priority to create training sessions to equip employees with knowledge and resources. Employee records should log the completion of this training and any subsequent refresher courses.
In addition, organised customer service training seminars should focus on customer needs. Concerns to be addressed might include probable customer priorities, empathetic attitudes toward dissatisfied customers, respecting the customer's time, and identifying potential venues of customer interaction. It's important to understand the customer's point of view in terms of initial interactions with the company and ongoing business interests. Customers should feel valued, not taken advantage of. They want to do business with companies that understand and care about them as people, not just money spenders. The personal touch that is missing in so many companies today is often the golden egg that builds amazing customer relations.
It begins with communication. Telephone customer service is critical to keeping a caller connected to the company, literally and figuratively. A caller's first impression can make or break the opportunity to establish a long-term, mutually satisfactory business relationship. Telephone greeters or company operators should be taught to always be courteous and sensitive to callers' complaints or requests, even with customers who are not particularly polite.
Similarly, video conferencing, voice chat, text messages, and email should emphasise a win-win approach to issues raised by the customer. Interactions should be clearly structured and brief to respect the customer's time. Although less common than other types of communication, the video medium is growing exponentially.
The company's website should be framed in an upbeat design that welcomes and nurtures new or returning customers. Fun facts, jokes, quotes, contests, and occasional free prizes will keep customers coming back in a friendly spirit of enjoyment to build an enduring relationship.
Face-to-face communication is usually optimum for engaging customers in a meaningful way. Company employees should dress professionally and use a pleasant tone when meeting and assisting customers, and be prepared to provide detailed information or able to refer customers to a specific area if asked.
Effective customer service training helps employees to meet important job-related goals
The training program, whether set up as a small class or an online session, helps to identify how customer needs can be met. Employees are sometimes asked in advance to submit suggestions or questions for training preparation. This enables the trainer to prepare the session based on specific customer service goals.
Some companies identify and recruit exceptional employees to train others. This approach is especially helpful because the trainer has experience with company policies and customer issues that can be used to train others.
Be sure to offer regular training refresher courses. Over time, it’s easy to become complacent, and bad habits can creep back in. Refresher courses enable employees to maintain effective customer relations skills as well as provide prompt training to new employees who missed the first session.
When the training session ends, request employee feedback through an evaluation form to find out what they found most or least helpful. Applicable feedback can be applied to future sessions, along with updated materials and techniques.
Specifically, what do customers want from a business?
Customers want to be understood in terms of what they are looking for. They don't appreciate companies that promise one thing and deliver another. Honesty goes a long way to keep customers happy. Employees must be trained to be clear and direct in answering questions and providing the best customer service skills to customers.
Those doing business with a company also want prompt service. This may involve ordering a product that isn't readily available or finding the answer to a difficult question. Service leaders at each performance level rank “handle time” as a top priority, and for good reason. Customers cite failure to solve problems in a timely manner as one of the top reasons to stop doing business with a company.
Customers often learn to love a business when they establish good relationships with company employees who they can trust. Some employees go out of their way to help customers with problems rather than passing them off to someone else. Service teams who have prioritised always-on, personalised, and faster service understand the importance of creating a customer experience. Instead of feeling like a faceless entity, customers receiving personal attention connect with those employees, and that positive experience keeps them coming back.
To be the "best," customer service needs to be a top priority
The best customer service comes from a company mindset that the customer is always (or nearly always) right, and that the business will do everything possible to develop a positive experience for the customer.
In order to have industry-leading customer service, you need to understand your product/service like the back of your hand first and foremost. And researching customer needs from existing surveys or requesting questionnaire feedback can provide valuable information on how to best serve customer interests.
Taking advantage of industry research, a business can establish policies that work in the customer's favour, which will reflect on the company and place it in a favourable public light. Putting the customer first is a sure way to build a bridge to success. Using insight and empathy, a business can ensure that customers receive top-priority attention. This will create a ripple effect that branches out to the community and beyond to bring in new customers and build company success.
All in all, it’s important for organisations to give the best customer service possible to their clients and make it one of the top priorities. Customer service isn’t just giving assistance to your clientele when they ask for it, but it’s understanding their needs before they even know they need it.