It’s easy to deliver a positive customer service experience when things are going smoothly and customers are easy to please. But what do you and your sales team do when you’re backed into a proverbial-corner with an unpleasant, demanding or even infuriated customer?
If you’ve worked with customers directly, then you know you face fresh challenges every day. However, it’s important to have some rules when it comes to dealing with those challenges, no matter what form they may take. The key is to appropriately respond instead of spontaneously react.
That’s why you and your customer-facing team should keep the following 8 commandments of customer service clear in your minds, and make sure you follow their spirit:
Customer Service Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Listen to Customers (Even the Angry Ones)
When a customer comes to you with a problem, they are looking for someone to help them fix it. They are also looking to be heard; to know that someone cares about their situation, and is willing to put their shoulder to the issue to help put things right. So, no matter how upset the customer is, you need to keep in mind that you are here to help them. Even if they keep trying to snap at you when you do it. Because if you can remove the metaphorical thorn from their paw, as HubSpot points out, then you may have secured a customer for life.
Customer Service Commandment #2: Thou Shalt Make Customers Feel Important
Whether someone is walking into a hardware store, or stopping in for a quick lunch, they’re looking for a good customer experience. It’s only partially about the washers or the cheese sticks… the rest is about how the experience makes them feel. Did you pay attention to them? Did you remember their name, or their usual order? Did you ask how they were and try to help them find what would best fulfill their needs? In short, did you do what The Balance suggests, and make your customers feel important and/or special during their time with you? Because if they felt special while they were in your establishment, that feeling is going to leave an impression that will likely inspire them to come back again.
Customer Service Commandment #3: Thou Shalt Support Thy Employees
The onus is on your employees to provide great customer service… but are you giving your employees the resources they need to accomplish the tasks you’ve set for them? You need to make sure your employees feel valued, like their needs are being met, and that their feedback is being heard as well, according to Score. If you want your employees to be able to make connections with customers, and to score the points you need with their service, you need to make sure they have the proper tools and support to get the job done. This means being open to their input, feedback and even welcoming them to take part in designing the customer experience you want them to create. This also means giving them a series of options, and decision-making power that empowers them to offer real solutions to customers as needed, without unnecessary red tape.
Customer Service Commandment #4: Thou Shalt Not Use Jargon
Clear communication is the cornerstone of good customer service. If you can’t explain to the customer what is wrong–and what you’re doing to fix it–then they’re just going to feel frustrated and upset that things aren’t going the way they want them to. That’s why the last thing you should do when trying to talk with a customer is to use jargon. As Capterra points out, using jargon is one of the easiest ways to shut someone down, and to frustrate them. So remember to leave all your acronyms at the door and to clearly explain what your business’s processes are. Otherwise you’ll have someone who can’t speak your language, and all they’ll hear is no.
Customer Service Commandment #5: Thou Shalt Not Interrupt
When a customer is talking, it’s important to make sure they get everything out. Nothing is less conducive to a good experience than being interrupted or talked over. So, even if a customer needs to be corrected, wait until there’s a natural pause in the conversation to establish some back and forth in the dialogue. People will remember that you interrupted them, and that will reflect poorly in their memories. They will also remember whether you heard them out and then worked with them to fix a situation. Active listening is a superpower. Use it well.
Customer Service Commandment #6: Thou Shalt Ask for Feedback
One of the most important aspects of customer service is getting a customer’s thoughts on the job you did. This will either reinforce the things you did right (and which you should make sure your business does from now on), or point out things you did wrong (which should be corrected in future interactions with customers). Whether the feedback is collected in the form of a survey, or through communications between you, your team and your customers, it’s important to pay attention to what your customers have to say and be willing to make good use of their feedback. Especially if you want to improve your results.
Customer Service Commandment #7: Thou Shalt Offer Compensation for Mistakes
When a customer is having a problem, the first thing you should do is apologize. Even if you feel that it isn’t your fault, an apology takes almost nothing on your part and it can smooth over a lot of ruffled feathers rather quickly. However, once those feathers are smooth, you should make a peace offering to make the experience up to your customer. Whether it’s a full refund, a discount on future services, or something similar, a peace offering will often undo the damage of a poor experience or mistake and make customers even more loyal than they were before. This is because when your customers see that you work to undo their mistakes, that buys you a lot of goodwill.
Customer Service Commandment #8: Thou Shalt Focus on Solutions
There is nothing worse in customer service than playing the “blame game” with someone. Whether it’s trying to shift blame to another member of the company, or telling the customer that the situation they are in is their own fault, this kind of approach helps no one. Instead, you need to focus on finding solutions to the problems that exist. Whether it’s helping a customer get the proper item through a return and exchange, or making sure they follow the right steps to get a refund, your focus needs to be on solving the problem. Because it doesn’t matter who made the mess; what matters is that the mess gets cleaned up.
These are just a few commandments you need to keep in mind in order to keep your customers happy and coming back to you.
And if you have yet to design a formalized customer service model, rest assured that we can help! McAllister Marketing is a full-service marketing agency that specializes in helping clients grow their business through effective customer acquisition, conversion and retention tactics.
For a no-obligation discussion to learn more about how to work with us, and how we can help your business get more customers and increase sales, give us a shout today!