Customer service is a part of every single business. In order for a company to run, it needs to have customers (or clients)- people that come to that company looking for something. It may be new furniture, advice on nutrition, or even just an annual check-up. At the end of the day, every business needs to provide great customer service.
We’ve talked in a previous blog post about why customer service is different than just service, and why it is more important. Today, I want to share what we at Network Depot think the top traits are of great customer service, and you will notice they really all have one thing in common- an open and honest line of communication.
1. Answering the Phone
This is really step one- a very basic display of great customer service. You need to pick up the phone and talk to your clients. Whether you are calling them or they are calling you, actually answering the phone shows them that you want to take the time out of your day to talk to them- that they are that important to you.
This is one of the hardest pieces of customer service, but one that separates good customer service from great customer service. Many times, when you pick up the phone to talk to a client, you will be motivated to answer their questions and fix their problem as quickly as possible. The truth is though, sometimes just listening to a client is more important than actually fixing the issue.
Clients want to feel heard, understood, and valued. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If a customer calls in with a problem (they bought the wrong chair, they have to change their appointment, etc.) they may want to spend 10 minutes talking about the problem even if it only takes 2 minutes to fix. The right thing to do is to spend that 10 minutes talking to them on the phone.
The words we say and how we say them have a huge impact on the people we are talking to. That is why it is so important to make sure that you are very careful about how you talk to people on the phone. You always want to be respectful, professional, and courteous to anyone you speak to. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun- quite the opposite. Most customers really like to feel like they are talking to a human being, not just some automated answering system or a person following a script. There is nothing wrong with chatting with a customer, joking with them, etc. Just make sure that you are also always being professional, respectful, and courteous. At the end of the day, no matter how close you get to your clients, you are still running a business.
Remember too that non-verbal communication is just as important- tone of voice, pitch, and body language can make a huge difference, even over the phone. For instance, did you know that your voice changes when you smile? It’s true! People can actually tell over the phone if you’re smiling or not.
4. Providing Updates
When talking about open lines of communication, one of the most important aspects is providing updates. The client needs to be kept in the loop about what is going on, even if you don’t have any new updates.
For example, say you run a shoe store, and a customer wants a certain pair of shoes. The trouble is, you don’t have their size in stock, so you are going to have to order it. Standard shipping time is 1-2 weeks, but the client pays extra for rush shipping. They are expecting their shoes in 3-5 days.
Now let’s say the supplier gets hit hard with a severe storm or tornado (with the crazy weather lately, this isn’t too hard to believe). Therefore, all the shoes shipments get delayed, some even up to 2 weeks. Now of course, you go ahead and tell the client. But now what? Do you never talk to that client again until they call asking when their shoes are? No. You keep them updated. You call them frequently to update them, even if it is only to say that the supplier is still trying to get up and running.
Most times, if you keep these open lines of communication and give frequent updates, the customer will still thank you even if their shoes come in a month late. Why? Well, by providing constant updates, you have shown them that you value their time and money. That’s what is going to keep them coming back to your store, and bringing their friends.
This is often one of the most overlooked aspects of customer service, but it can make a huge difference in your relationship with the customer. By giving them a call to see how their service was, you are showing the client that you care about what they think of you. Not only are they a valued client, they are an important member of the team. By encouraging them to provide feedback, both good and bad, you are giving them a voice within your company. The next step though, is to pass along this feedback and adjust your service accordingly.
Providing top-quality customer service is not necessarily easy to pull off. It takes time, training, and consistent effort from every person in the company. These days though, there is always some other business providing the same service as you, so having top-quality customer service is what can set you above and beyond the competition.
What do you think are some other qualities of great customer service? Let us know in the comments!