Whether you like it or not, customer service is an essential and unavoidable aspect of running any business. Simply being available for your customers is not enough – these days, you have to understand their desires and needs, while also considering old adages like “the customer is always right,” in order to keep people happy and loyal. With constantly shifting trends and the occasional crazy customer here and there, how do you know if you’re on top of your customer service game?
Via Forbes: Author Josaine Feigon points out a bleak, but persistent, recent trend: customers, especially millennials, are beginning to value efficiency over quality customer service. According to a Boston Consulting Group survey, 81% of millennials valued the quick pace of high-end fast food over slower, “more friendly” table service. As the demographics of customer bases grow to include more and more millennials, it seems like traditional customer service is starting to take a back seat.
Just because the younger crowd is not as interested in interacting with salespeople, that doesn’t mean you can skimp out! In fact, this trend should serve as a gentle nudge for you to really pay attention to your business’s customer service department. Regardless of what qualities in customer service people value the most, be it speed or ease, people will notice if you are unfriendly or rude. No matter what you believe your customers care about more, always treat people with respect – a smile doesn’t hurt either!
Sometimes (hopefully rarely), you will come across an unhappy customer. You may be tempted to go over all the reasons in your head why the customer is completely crazy and wrong but….
Via Entrepreneur: How do you deal with angry customers? Before you tackle the customer’s actual issue, know that how you handle the situation is a deciding factor to the overall success of your business. Yes, that sounds heavy and maybe even a little scary, but we here at FiveStars don’t take customer service lightly! The most important thing you can do when a customer complains is just listen. As Gene Marks puts it, “You don’t argue. It’s not that the customer’s always right. It’s just that it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to win the argument.”
After you’ve heard the customer out, the next step you can take is to fix the problem, whether it’s in the form of offering a replacement or giving the customer store credit. You may lose a bit of money, but it’s better than losing a customer and a few other potential ones in the long run (upset customer can and will complain to everyone who will listen!). And of course, do not forget to track your customer service! This way, you can delineate between the customers who have genuine complaints and the customers that complain 10 times just to get receive free products or credit.
Lastly, make sure you’re not unintentionally sending the wrong cues to your customer, whether it’s during an everyday interaction or when you’re handling a complaint…
Via Inc.: We all know that there are a lot of nuances in the English language – you can say the same sentence seven different ways and each way will convey a different meaning. Similarly, your verbal cues could actually be telling your customers one thing, when your words are saying something else. Author John Brandon notes that there are four main cues of an annoyed or impatient person: sighing, throat clearing, sarcasm, and saying hmm. Think about the last you did any of these four actions – how were you feeling at the time? Probably not chipper. You as a customer would probably not want to deal with any salesperson or representative that sighed excessively, cleared his or her throat too often, was blatantly sarcastic towards you, or said hmm in a condescending manner.
Next time you deal with a customer and you’re not in the best of moods, make it a point to avoid these four habits. If you do slip up, apologize if necessary and explain that you’re having a rough day. It’s better to acknowledge your bad mood than act passive-aggressively towards a customer. Like I mentioned earlier, some customers may overlook good service, but it’s much more difficult to overlook bad customer service.
Have you ever experienced really great (or maybe really bad?) customer service? Tell us in the comments below!