The Most Important Business Practice: Customer Service

Customer service is defined as meeting customers' needs through positive actions. The goal should be to exceed expectations, yet some companies fall short.

There is a decreasing amount of personal involvement between businesses and customers. Self-service is growing more prevalent as certain tasks have been taken out of the hands of employees and given to customers. For example, many stores have gone to self-checkout lanes to cut costs of hiring extra cashiers. Many stores are now online, thus taking personal service out of the picture almost entirely.

Businesses rely on customers whether the business is a supermarket, auto service center, insurance company or hospital. Without customers, businesses fail. In this technological age, business owners need to put as much focus on personal connections as they do on technical execution.

Providing excellent service gives customers a good feeling about the business on the whole. They may be in a hurry. They may need quick answers. They may be just browsing i.e. for insurance mobile app ideas. No matter what, it is a much more positive experience when customers feel they are treated with respect and thoughtfulness.

In Customer Service, Action Speaks Loudest

In a physical environment (not online), non-verbal communication is very important. The words and actions of workers should make the customer feel welcome. This will go a long way toward ensuring repeat business from that customer. Body language is the phrase used to convey that "it’s not only what you say but how you say it." Examples of positive body language include:

  • ·        Facial Expression - employees need to look pleased to see the customer.
  • ·        Eye Contact - people want to know that the person they are talking to is paying attention. This conveys interest in the customer's problem and willingness to solve it.
  • ·        Posture - employees should lean in slightly to show that they are interested in the conversation. Don't show posture that implies disinterest.
  • ·        Practice good personal hygiene and follow the dress code. Wearing clean clothes conveys pride in one's appearance and is seen as pride in one's work, too.

The customer should feel that they are the most important person. Kind gestures must go with polite words to make people feel special.

Applying Customer Service Practices

Workers represent business; professionalism is key. They must look, talk, and act the part. They need to erase the term “it’s not my job” from their vocabulary. Every employee is a team member and should be offering help whenever it is needed.

Customer service can be applied in all areas of a job. Examples include:

  • ·        Keeping the work area clean and shelves stocked.
  • ·        Initiating conversations. People are grateful when someone stops to help.
  • ·        Smiling and saying “hello.”
  • ·        Identifying self to customers and wearing a name tag if one is required.
  • ·        Speaking with a positive attitude, remembering that words and tone should never insult.
  • ·        Responding as quickly as possible
  • ·        Listening attentively while inviting questions.
  • ·        Asking and answering questions politely.
  • ·        Knowing how to give good, accurate directions.
  • ·        Going the extra mile by doing a bit extra for customers when possible.
  • ·        Say "Thank You."

Dealing with Angry Customers

Not every customer is pleased with services they receive. There will be times when service personnel need to practice diplomacy and tact at a higher level than usual. Some tips for dealing with angry customers include:

  • ·        Allow the customer to present the problem. Listen to what the customer is saying.
  • ·        Be understanding and accountable during the situation. Take control.
  • ·        Acknowledge errors using non-defensive words and phrases.
  • ·        Listen for things you can agree with and acknowledge them.
  • ·        Paraphrase the situation. Share and explain.
  • ·        If things aren't going well, call time out and ask for assistance from a supervisor.
  • ·        Concede as a last resort. It is better to give in to the customer to preserve the reputation of the business.
  • ·        End the exchange politely. Say "Thank You" and apologize for any inconvenience.

Telephone Techniques for Good Customer Service

In this era of technological advances, many businesses find that encounters with customers are not limited to face-to-face contact. Many customers shop online and when doing so, they may need to call for support from the company's call center. Knowing how to handle situations over the telephone is essential for repeat business.

  • ·        Answer calls promptly. Be ready to speak.
  • ·        Smile while talking on the phone.
  • ·        It may seem unnecessary, but observe body posture while on the phone. It is good for enunciation. Stand or sit up straight.
  • ·        Use a pleasant tone of voice.
  • ·        Identify self and department. Make sure to be understood.
  • ·        Picture the other person. Focus on the caller - use the caller’s name.
  • ·        Use active listening to understand the situation. Take accurate notes.
  • ·        Create solutions and confirm agreements.
  • ·        Close calls courteously. Say "Thank You."

Business owners are well-advised to keep customer service as a main focus. Customers are the reason that businesses exist. Poor service is often why businesses fail.

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