What constitutes first-class customer service
It's been my pleasure to work in customer service ever since I was legally allowed to work for pay. I've had a wide range of customer service jobs, from working traditional retail cash registers to serving and training corporate clients.
This experience has given me a great deal of respect for the customer service industry and the people who work in it. At the same time, it's also given me high expectations for good customer service. So what, in my opinion, does good customer service look like?
First and foremost, it's important that customer service be fast and easily accessible. You don't want to start solving tough problems for a customer who's already frustrated after waiting on hold for an hour.
In customer service, as in many things, the real test comes when things go wrong. That's when you have to rely on your true professional skills. Many of us can handle happy, satisfied customers, but it takes a real pro to deftly manage a difficult situation.
Here are a few tips for turning tough customer service situations into positive experiences:
1. Listen - the Customer wants to be heard
They want to vent their frustration and anger. Listen to them and let them get that emotion out. Only then will it be possible to rationalize the problem and find a solution together.
2. Don't argue, don't defend
Your job is not to win an argument with the customer. The customer may be wrong. Your job is to solve the problem so that both of you are satisfied with the outcome. And don't make excuses - the customer doesn't care why something went wrong, they just want it fixed. If there was a mistake, be honest about it. People understand human error, even if they're initially angry about it.
3. Be on the customer's side
A person in the midst of an emotional reaction needs support. Tell the customer that you understand their frustration and that you believe it to be justified. The customer may also need a shoulder to lean on.
4. Apologize and be honest
This is something that's too often overlooked. Apologize for the mistake, even if it wasn't your personal error. Be honest about what happened, if at all possible. People can smell a lie from a mile away. Great customer service is empathetic, understanding, honest, and personal.
Remember that the toughest situations are actually opportunities to strengthen the customer relationship and improve your company's image. Well-handled complaints are often passed on to others as positive word-of-mouth, and that can do wonders for your business. And always remember that every single employee is first and foremost a customer service representative.
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