Effective customer service skills make the difference between a merely satisfactory service experience and an extraordinary one, inevitably resulting in a more loyal customer base. Especially in a market where the product or service you offer may be somewhat commonplace, you need to do everything you can to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
So, what can you do to improve your customer service skills?
TIP #1: Put yourself in their position!
From your customer’s perspective, the empathy you display is very comforting. It helps that person feel like you’re making every effort to personally understand and address their specific concerns. On occasion, they can make quite confusing or seemingly impossible requests but, rather than immediately dismissing them, it helps to step into their shoes for a moment to figure out why they are making this request. This is likely to help you come up with valuable solutions that suits their needs.
The requests a customer makes may seem trivial at times, but there is always a reason behind them – and that reason is clearly important to them. Taking the time necessary to understand what they are asking and how that fits into their long-term and day-to-day goals will let them know they are being heard. You may not be able to fix every problem, but they are more likely to respect the fact that you tried to do what you could for them.
TIP #2: Decide who gets your help first!
If empathy is essential, prioritization is crucial. You need to have an effective “triage” system in place. If multiple clients are clamoring for your attention, you may want to take a step back and evaluate all of the factors that dictate who should be helped first. Naturally, everyone thinks that their own issue deserves your immediate attention and should take priority over another, but you need to be the one who makes the decision based on what is best for both you and your clients. Choose wisely.
Obviously, if several are experiencing the same issues, you want to address those as quickly as possible. Don’t delay dealing with one big issue by focusing on fixing multiple smaller ones. Your to-do checklist may appear to show more progress with a lot of smaller issues being resolved, hence giving you a sense of greater accomplishment. However, one big unresolved problem may end up cascading into several others or – worst case scenario – result in “irreconcilable differences” with a big client. Always keep in mind the fact that, all things being equal, losing a high value client is likely to be far more costly to you in the long run than losing a smaller one that can be more easily replaced.
TIP #3: Be sure to make yourself available!
While it’s always desirable to respond to every client’s needs in the moment, you can’t always take the time to do so. Even if you do not always have the time to immediately address each request, you should at least make sure you have the resources available to listen to them. If you can’t do this yourself, you probably need to hire a competent staff to assist you. The better your team, the better your service! Knowing when your clients are upset or have concerns is important, so it is best give them the means to voice their displeasure if their service is inadequate. It’ never fun to field a complaint, but it’s an absolute necessity to the long-term health of your relationship with that client.
Manage your client relationships for the long-term!
Following these guidelines when interacting with your clients in a customer service role will do wonders for keeping them satisfied and content. Rare is the satisfied client who goes looking for alternatives, so keep as many as you can as happy as you can. Your goal is to build solid, long-term client relationships and manage them properly. It may seem like extra work, but great customer service can only help your brand and result in greater profits in the long run.