If you’ve worked in customer service for any length of time, you’ll know by now what NOT to do when assisting and conversing with customers.
However, it never hurts to get reacquainted with the basics every now and then, especially when new employees are welcomed into your team. With so many different approaches, methods and technology being built around improving customer service, it can be easy to get lost in the fog and lose sight of what customer service is really all about.
So keep things simple by avoiding these five major no no’s of customer service. Set your goals and practices around this motive, and everything else should fall into place.
Promise What Is Impossible
It may be tempting, especially in the stages of advertising and marketing your business to the consumer audience, to make grand claims about things that your product or service is capable of. Whether you simply exaggerate, tell customers what you think they wish to hear, or entice them with an outright fabrication…it’s all very much a recipe for disaster.
Building a durable customer relationship starts with demonstrating honesty and exercising transparency within your business. It is always better to set customer expectations within the boundaries of what is realistic and then surprise them, rather than raise their hopes and disappoint them. This is also especially important in times of crisis, when an explanation is most certainly likely to be requested by the customer. British airline Flybe’s customer services were publically criticised for their lack of transparency when informing customers of cancelled flights just days before departure.
Remember to keep your promises simple. If your service seems too good to be true, customers will know it.
Tell The Customer What They Want
A dedicated customer service is all about listening carefully to the customers’ needs and wants, whether on a mass scale or in a face-to-face sales interaction. Once employees know what a customer wants, they can set about finding them a tailored product that best suits their needs, rather than push a slow-seller.
This is something Rowena Bird, co-founder of LUSH Cosmetics, strongly recommends.
“It is vital that our teams understand the products they are selling so they can find the correct product for each customer,” she says. “Not just sell them the latest favourite.”
Be Rude, Irritated And/Or Bored
Customers are sensitive to the reactions and behaviours of employees, and will instantly pick up on negative attitudes. When there is a problem, you should see it not as an annoyance but as an opportunity to impress.
The importance of positive communication therefore cannot be overstated, regardless of the time of day, the type of customer or the difficulty of their query. Simple tactics like smiling, using the customer’s name and asking them how they feel that day are all effective ways to boost their confidence and their mood. This ensures they’ll be more likely to leave happy even if their issue does not get resolved.
Customer service speaker John Tschohl is one expert who speaks strongly of the habits of courtesy.
“In seconds a customer can tell if they are loved or not loved, whether it’s in the tone of voice or the body language,” he says. “In seconds they can just tell. And to be nice, it doesn’t take any more time.”
Pass Off Responsibility Of Knowledge
This applies to both knowing the company’s products and services, and the ability to perform required tasks or processes. Customers don’t expect employees to know or be able to do absolutely everything, but they do expect them to go some way towards finding the answer.
All employees should be trained thoroughly on the line of products and services being sold by the company – even a basic knowledge will stand them in good stead to answer customers’ questions. When an employee doesn’t know an answer, they should ask another employee or do some quick research on the customer’s behalf.
By the same token, employees shouldn’t ignore or refuse a customer request just because they don’t have the knowledge or authority to perform a task, or because it is ‘not their responsibility’. Employees should seek to learn a new skill, or refer the customer immediately to someone who is better equipped to help them.
Let Policies & Procedures Become More Important Than The Customer
When sticking to the rules or company policies is going to create an unhappy customer, this is not good customer service. This could be anything from opening hours, to shipping or refund policies, or rules regarding payment. Even with all these rules in place, you should be prepared to listen to the customer’s story and see how you can bend the rules to ensure they walk away satisfied.
“Customer service is all about taking care of your customers,” customer service speaker Shep Hyken explains. “It’s about going the extra mile to fulfil customer needs, even if it stretches slightly outside of your company’s day-to-day routine. If somebody is capable of helping, they should do it.”
When you refuse to help a customer because of a minor rule or regulation, you are placing greater importance on bureaucracy than your customer’s happiness. And that’s just dumb.
Adele Halsall is a writer and researcher for Customer Service Guru. She is passionate about retail and consumer trends, and how this is shaped and governed by advertising and social marketing.
She is particularly experienced in marketing and customer engagement, and enjoys contributing to ongoing debates related to best business practices, start-up culture, and the culture of customer relations. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @gurucustomers
Visit the Customer Service Guru website at: http://www.customerserviceguru.co.uk/