Customer Service 101
Customer service is one of the most vital tools for your business and it must be used correctly. For this reason, we’ve put together a customer service 101 guide to help you make good decisions for your customers.
Conducting professional customer service is the difference between an unhappy customer and a happy customer. Many people mistakenly think that customer service is only necessary if a customer submits a complaint. On the contrary, the process begins way before that. This customer service 101 aims to dispel some of the myths.
The role of customer service
The customer service role begins right from the very first enquiry. Responding to questions and messages in a prompt, professional manner. This is the first experience a customer will have to your business. If you’re rude, abrupt or take a long time to answer, the experience will already become bitter and tainted to the customer. Ensure any correspondence with the customer is polite, and completely answers their question. As a customer, there is nothing worse than having to wait long periods for responses and then the response doesn’t answer all questions. It can start to feel like they’re talking to a brick wall, and then you’ve fallen at the first hurdle.
Behind the scenes
Customer service is also important even when you’re not directly dealing with the customer. For example, delivery times. It’s always wise to overstate your delivery times, especially if you make your items yourself. That way you can allow for any delays and exceed the customers’ expectations when their product is ready before the specified time. However, use this method with caution. Always use the term “up to X weeks/days/etc.” so they know if their product is ready sooner that it’s not been rushed, and don’t overstate your timings so much that the wait becomes unrealistic as this could put customers off.
If there are delays with the customers’ order, ensure your customer service is up to scratch by explaining fully what the delay is, how you expect to resolve it, and how apologetic you are about the delay. Your customer has paid good money for your products, and repeatedly just telling them that their order has been delayed, with no reasoning will annoy them. Furthermore, if the customer order is delayed, don’t wait for them to contact you asking questions. Pre-empt their upset by being upfront with them and contacting them directly as soon as you’re aware of any delays.
Social Media Usage
The manner in which you conduct any marketing, or social media usage is also a representation of your customer service level. If you’re rude, unprofessional, inappropriate or unapproachable on your social media pages, or in your marketing material, this will affect your customer service reputation. This is probably the most important rule of the customer service 101.
Dealing with complaints
It could be argued that the way you deal with an unhappy customer who submits a complaint is the difference between a returning and a lost customer. Don’t assume that because a customer submits a complaint that they won’t be a returning customer, the way you deal with their complaint dictates the outcome and their future purchasing habits. When dealing with a complaint, always make sure the customer knows you value their feedback, and that you’re taking their complaint seriously. Endeavour to do everything you can to put the problem right, even if it means you’re out of pocket. The customer will feel valued and important to you, as opposed to feeling like they’re a nuisance. Respond professionally, politely and do everything you can to make the customer feel like the situation is resolved. Chances are you will have pacified them and their chances of returning are much greater.
How to deal with complaints
An example of a complaint is below:
Complaint: Hi, I’ve just received my order and I’m unhappy with it. There is some damage to the product, and the shade isn’t what I expected.
Business: Hi *insert customer name*, I’m so sorry to hear you’re unhappy with your order. In order for us to assess the damage and to ensure this doesn’t happen to future customers, would it be possible for you to take a picture of it for us? I appreciate that might inconvenience you, but we would like to make sure we’re doing everything we can to address this and ensure in the future this doesn’t occur. The shading difference can sometimes be a result of technology screen colouring differences, but we’re so sorry you’re unhappy with the shade. As a gesture of goodwill, we’d like to offer you a full refund, and 10% off your next order. You’re also welcome to keep the product you have, and do what you’d like with it. I really hope this has helped to rectify your unhappy purchase with us, and if there’s anything else we can do to make this right for you, just get in touch. Thank you so much for getting in touch and letting us know you’ve had problems, we value customer feedback as this helps us to evolve and improve. Thank you, *Business Name*.
The example complaint above is completely fictional. However the response is a good example of how you would deal with such a complaint. Hopefully this hypothetical customer would feel like they were being taken seriously and would tell their friends that although they had a bad experience, the business put it right. That’s much better than the customer telling their friends they had a problem but felt ignored.
Never take it out on the customer
If you’re having a bad day and a particularly difficult customer comes along, it can be really easy for your mood to come out in contact with your customers. Always remember to leave your mood out of it and speak to the customer with respect. A particularly handy tip we’ve learnt from our days as a receptionist is to always smile when you are talking on the phone. It may sound silly, but the person on the other end can hear it in your voice – and who can resist a smile?!
A great way to help you implement all of these customer service tips is through customer service portals such as Live Agent, Freshdesk, and Zendesk. These help you get your communications in one place. Facebook, Twitter, and emails all go to one dashboard where you can reply from. They also create ‘tickets’ of each conversation, mention or email so everything really is all in one place.
Whenever you use your customer service skills, imagine how you’d like to be treated if you were a customer, and respond accordingly. Never forget your customers are the reason you’re in business, treat them as important as they are.
I hope you found this customer service 101 guide useful.