Customer service is simply meeting the needs of customers who use your products or services. For some customers, helpful information or a well-stocked store is all they need. For others, customer service is about prompt professional service or the best price. For still others, customer service is about convenience and variety.
To meet the varied expectations of customers, you must develop a positive relationship with your customers. Today’s customers appreciate a relationship that shows you respect their needs, and that you try to go the extra mile to meet them.
Providing Quality Customer Service
- Welcome your customers promptly and cordially.
- Thank them for any helpful ideas they may present.
- Use your customer’s name to personalize the interaction.
- Offer them recognition for being loyal customers.
- Treat customers the way you would like them to be treated.
Handling Customer Concerns
Quality customer service is based on the principle, it’s not so much how you handle the situation when things are going well that makes the different! Quality customer services is based on how you respond when things aren’t going so well!
When you go beyond the call of duty to fix a problem, your efforts can pay off tremendously. The cost of replacing an item or offering a refund is often recovered by the loyalty you receive in return. Research has shown customers who have had a complaint satisfactorily resolved are more likely to return, and are more willing to recommend your service to others.
Determine the Nature of the Problem
Provide customers with an opportunity to express their concerns. When a customer presented a complaint or concern, respond promptly to demonstrate that you take these issues seriously. For example, for a spilled beverage or broken item, respond with, “It’s no big deal! We’ll get this cleaned up. In the meantime, let me get you a replacement!” Such gestures are worth much more than their cost.
Instead of being unhappy, the customer may be willing to tell everyone how professional and helpful you were.
Let Them Ventilate!
Sometimes it’s not enough to just solve a problem. Many times the customer’s primary motivation is simply, “blow off steam.”Therefore, it’s important to let frustrated customers tell their side of the story without interruption.
Listen carefully and never let your anger get aroused. Even if the customer is saying things in anger that are untrue. By letting frustrated customers express themselves, you’re also helping them to calm down.
When the anger subsides, describe your understanding of the concern. The message to convey is, “This is important, and I want to do what’s right.” You don’t have to admit error, but show that you’re glad the problem has been called to your attention and you intend to respond in a professional manner.
In providing quality customer service, attitude and professionalism are everything! In other words, let the customer know what he or she is saying matters.
Some of these phrases can be used:
- “I can see this is important to you.”
- “I want you to know it is important to me too.”
- “I would like to resolve this in the best way possible.”
- “What are your thoughts on how we can resolve it?”
- “We can handle it this way. How does that sound?”
To Unreasonable Customer Demands
Don’t be negative even when customers are negative and unfair. Put yourself in their shoes and give them the empathy that you would want yourself. Don’t make excuses. Concentrate on offering solutions, rather than trying to explain why something went wrong or find out who was wrong.
Never Say Things Like This...
- “Sorry, but that’s our policy.”
- “They didn’t get back to me.”
- “I thought someone else was taking care of it.”
- “I didn’t have time.”
Instead, provide explanations that convey concern and sound credible to the customer. Referring to policies, blaming others and making excuses tend to cause even more upset.
Little Things Mean A Lot!
It’s important that customers see you as knowledgeable and helpful. Focus on solutions, “I understand your concern, let’s see what we can do to get it resolved.” Leave them remembering that you treated them professionally and fairly. The best way to do that is to offer them what you might want in the same situation. And never, under any circumstances, knowingly make a promise to a customer that you don’t intend to or cannot keep.
If the Facts Warrant, Apologize!
One sincere apology is worth more than 1000 excuses. Tell them,“We made a mistake and we intend to make it right.” This shows that you are accepting responsibility and taking the matter seriously.
If in Doubt, Apologize Anyway
You may be surprised by how much good it can do to offer an apology to a dissatisfied customer. Even if the situation is not your fault, simply hearing words such as “I’m sorry you have had this experience” can go a long way towards repairing a customer relationship.
Know the Value of Service
To provide quality customer service, learn from those you serve and when you do something, do it right! Treat customers with honesty, fairness, and dignity. For example, if they get lost, whenever possible, don’t tell them where to go or how to get there. Instead, take them where they need to go!
When Closing the Encounter
Follow-up is vital! Always ask, “Is there anything else that I can do for you?” And, always thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention or allowing you to help them.
Follow-up within a week to assure that the problem has been resolved and that the customer received what you said you would deliver. You might also wish to offer a free service or tasteful gift to convey how much you value the customer’s association with your organization. When you handle the customer’s problem quickly and efficiently, you have gone a long way in securing a positive association for the future.