The Dying Art of Exceptional Customer Service
The number one mistake most companies make is not training their employees in the art of providing exceptional customer service. Customer Service is the single most important thing your employees do each day. Your visitor’s customer service experience can and will boost sales dramatically if done properly. However, poor customer service will have the opposite effect and will cut sales dramatically!
Case in point…
Have you ever had a bad customer service experience? Do you remember it and talk about it every chance you get? Most people do! All it takes is one bad customer service experience and your good name could be turned to mud with just one negative social media post that goes viral.
Have you ever counted how many times per day you encountered a bad customer service experience? I will bet is it more than you think. We as a society are just getting “used to it.” But that doesn’t make it right. And it certainly won’t help your brand’s reputation or result in higher sales.
So what can we do about this seemingly growing epidemic of poor customer service skills? Well, the answer is simple. You must train your employees properly. Then hold them accountable for their actions by performing mystery shopping or using testers to see where more training is needed.
You can start by implementing the following customer service techniques.
13 Steps Guaranteed to Result in Exceptional Customer Service
Here are 13 techniques that will help you provide your employees with the tools they need to deliver an exceptional customer service experience which will ultimately result in higher customer satisfaction rates and increased sales.
1. Hire the Right Attitude
It’s much easier to hire the right attitude than it is to try and retrain someone whose customer service skills don’t come naturally. Hiring the right attitude is the absolute best way to ensure your team is providing exceptional customer service consistently.
HOT TIP: Try having your interview at a restaurant and watch how your prospective employee treats the wait staff and other restaurant employees. This will help you weed out 90% of the people who don’t have the right personality for delivering exceptional customer service.
2. Working with the Team You’ve Got
If you have existing employees that aren’t providing the customer service experience you expect, then some new training is needed.
So take the following 3-13 steps below to craft a new Customer Service Guide and Training Policy. You will need this not only for employee training but also to hold your employees accountable after the training.
3. Teaching Attitude
Teaching and encouraging your employees to develop a positive customer service attitude can be difficult, especially if any given person is naturally negative. However, you are running a business and your employees will need to adapt or you will have to make changes.
Start by teaching your employees to have the right attitude from the initial point of contact and beyond. This includes greeting your customers with a smile, direct eye contact, and avoiding negative non-verbal body language. For example, poor stance, crossed arms, a frown, eye-rolling, sighing, sneering, turning away, avoiding direct eye contact, etc.
4. Phone Contact Customer Service
If the initial customer contact is over the phone, teach your employees how to convey a positive attitude accordingly. For example, tell your employees to use a sincere tone of voice and to smile. Believe it or not, people can almost always tell if the person on the other end of the line is smiling or not. So teach your employees to smile even when dealing with phone contacts.
A positive, genuine tone of voice will ensure your customers are receiving an exceptional customer service experience. However, on the other hand, most people can detect insincerity and a lack of desire to help from a negative employee.
5. The In-Person Advantage
It’s always to your advantage when you are dealing with a customer in-person, but only if your employees are providing exceptional service. There’s also more opportunity for something to go wrong when an employee is handling customers in person.
The first thing you want to do is train your employees to smile! This is a lost art. And for some people, it’s going to take practice. But there is no better way to start a customer service contact than with a smile. A smile will put your customer at ease and shows that an employee is eager to help.
Next, work on voice intonation. If your employee is smiling but their tone of voice is negative or insincere, then that smile will send mixed signals and confuse the customer. Have your employees practice using a positive, upbeat tone of voice along with their smiles to deliver an exceptional customer service experience. And remind them to be mindful of their non-verbal body language.
6. Direct Eye Contact
Having direct eye contact during a conversation is customer service 101. However, this seems to be another customer service technique that has gone by the wayside.
It’s extremely important to teach your employees that when dealing with a customer, they must use direct eye contact throughout the entire conversation. Direct eye contact helps show the customer that the employee is actively listening and has a sincere desire to help them with their issue.
7. The Lean
Teach your employees to lean slightly forward while listening to a customer speak. This shows the customer that the employee is actively listening and is sincere and eager to help.
8. Respect, Patience, and Understanding
All customers should be treated with respect, patience, and understanding at all times regardless of their age or level of comprehension—even if they are in the wrong.
With that being said, explain to your employees that when a customer is clearly wrong, they absolutely do not have to admit fault. Teach them t reply by saying to that customer that “you understand what they are saying” or that “you understand how they are feeling. That acknowledges the employee is listening and comprehending the conversation without conceding fault.
9. DO NOT INTERRUPT—EVER!
Always let the customer talk and don’t interrupt the conversation. Let the customer vent their frustrations and get it all out. This will give them a chance to calm down. After the customer has finished talking, then it’s the employee’s turn to talk.
10. How to Manage a Heated Conversation
If your employee encounters an irate or extremely upset customer, tell them to respond by sitting back slightly in their chair. Then teach the employee that when responding to the customer to lower their voice and speak in a slightly slower manner. This will take the customer off the defensive and will help avoid them feeling like you are attacking them back. By using this extremely effective technique, your employee will have more control over the conversation, and it will help keep the situation calm while lowering the customer’s frustration level.
11. Solutions and Compromises
Always give your employees guidelines and access to solutions and compromises you find acceptable for them to offer. This will empower your employees to manage a customer’s expectations by telling them exactly what your company can and can’t do in no uncertain terms. It’s important that the employee comes across as honest and sincere.
If the customer is asking for something the employee knows the company can’t or won’t do for them, have the employee tell the customer they will check with their superior on the issue and get back to them within 24 hours, if not sooner. Then have the employee wait for 24 hours then get back to the customer with the same answer. Stress to the employee how important it is that they do not wait longer than 24 hours to respond back to the customer.
12. The Importance of Documentation
Train every employee on your specific documentation process. Have systems in place that dictate exactly what you expect and how each employee should be documenting every customer encounter.
Make sure every employee is taking notes and notating the specifics of every customer encounter beginning with the first contact. Additionally, when a customer sees an employee documenting the conversation and any issues, it shows them that the employee is actively listening and noting the facts as they are being presented so there is no confusion and no misunderstanding.
Keep a file (physical or digital) of every customer and every customer contact. This will enable everyone on your team to know exactly what transpired, what was discussed, and how each encounter was handled. It will also help avoid confusion or the customer having to wait until the employee that originally handled the customer issue is back on the clock. It’s also important that every employee knows how important it is to notate the date and time of every customer encounter no matter how big, small, or insignificant it seems.
13. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
Just like you have a documentation process in place, you should also have a follow-up system in place as well. Following up on all customer issues within three days of the final resolution with the customer is extremely important. Just because the customer issue was resolved, doesn’t mean the customer contact is finished.
Following up with the customer will ensure that your proposed solutions or compromises are in fact working for the customer. And if they aren’t, this gives you the opportunity to find another solution that will. This will help build a positive brand reputation. It will also help avoid your customers from becoming angry and frustrated to the point they take to social media and smear your brand all across the world wide web. And you know they will if they aren’t satisfied. So yes, follow-up is IMPORTANT!
Managing Your Employees’ Job Expectations
It’s important to manage your employees’ job expectations by reminding them that they won’t be able to please everyone all the time. Some people simply won’t be reasoned with no matter what you do. However, if your employees use the above customer service tactics and techniques, those unreasonable, uncompromising customers will be few and far between.
SINCERITY and a SMILE will go a LONG way, even when your employee has to say no. People will immediately recognize when someone is being fake and will appreciate and accept someone who is being sincere and what they have to say all that much more because of it
Teaching the art of exceptional customer service is difficult and getting even more difficult in the post-COVID era. However, this is an opportunity for your company to shine. With the right training and a positive can-do attitude, your company will be a bright shining light in the middle of a sea full of lackluster customer service teams. So train your employees in the art of exceptional customer service and teach them how to shine!