Sept. 12, 2014 - Customer service fundamentals aren’t simple. There’s a lot that goes into being an excellent customer service representative, and one aspect of it is regularly re-charging the batteries and plugging back in to what good customer service means.
A lot of it has to do with being a polite person with good manners. That means listening patiently, thinking about others, communicating carefully and clearly and being helpful. It also involves having an upbeat personality and being knowledgeable. It all comes down to providing a good and valuable customer experience, good enough that the customer will have no qualms about calling the call center again.
Here’s a quick guide to customer service excellence:
- Put yourself in a Strategic Context: Appreciate and embrace the fact that what you are doing is critically important to the success of the call center and the program within which you work. You are the face (actually, the voice) of the company you represent. You have been entrusted with interfacing with customers, and nothing is more valuable to a company than its current or prospective customers. Taking this appreciation into your work will have direct impact on the energy and quality you bring to your work.
- The Golden Rule: Provide customer service unto others that you yourself would like to receive. Everyone’s been at the receiving end of both good and bad customer service. We know how positive a good experience can make us feel about a company – and vice versa. Be the customer service agent you wish you could talk to. Provide answers and service beyond the basic and immediate customer need. If the customer is angry, make is point of personal pride to defuse the situation, to respond with empathy about their frustration, and to – if nothing else – promise that the customer’s call will be escalated either to your supervisor or other manager. Always remember to smile when talking – that smile will come across in your voice.
- Q&A Eliminates Confusion: Never be afraid to ask questions. Some people think questions put them at a disadvantage, but that’s not so. Asking questions tells the customer you’re interested in helping them. It also demonstrates that you understand the customer’s need (“So what you’re asking is…). Asking questions and listening to the answer avoids confusion and customer anger. It also creates an authentic conversation, which is a foundation of good customer service.
- Be Human: Always be willing to be normal, warm and friendly. Try to be as unscripted as you possibly can while also staying “on message.” Call the customer by his or her name. If available, look up previous interactions the customer has had with your company or call center client (“I see that last year you ordered….”). This will create an environment in which the customer is convinced you care and that quality customer service is being delivered.
- Compare & Contrast: Invite quality control managers and program supervisors to listen to you while you work and encourage them to critique your customer interactions. Examine your greeting, your responsiveness, your helpfulness, your knowledge and your sign-off at the end of the customer service call. If your call center has “scorecard” technology, compare your performance metrics against your colleagues. Those who exceed you are people you should talk to and learn from. Be open to input and incorporate it into your evolution as a customer service specialist.