In business, customer service is not limited to the designated department; any employee who has contact with customers is, in effect, a service representative. By developing and nurturing the customer service skills that service agents employ on a daily basis, you can become a more effective company ambassador.
1. Listening Skills
When it comes to customer service skills, the most important is listening. During a conversation, you must be attentive to the customer's needs, paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. This holds true for all interactions, from sales calls to technical inquiries. By listening effectively, you are able to pick up on the customer's critical needs quickly and respond accordingly. As a result, you can avoid wasting time and create better solutions, leading to more satisfied customers.
2. Clear Communication
When you work directly with customers, communication is crucial. This is particularly important in businesses that deal in complex high-tech products; all employees should be able to speak to customers using industry-appropriate language. If you work as a technical expert, you must be able to use the right jargon. If your customers are more novice users, you should be able to explain each concept in less-technical language. In addition, customer service agents are often trained to use positive communication to improve the tone of a conversation. Instead of saying, "I can't get you this product because it is unavailable," you might say, "This product is available in two weeks; I'll create an order for you and ship it overnight."
Customers with questions want answers from knowledgeable company representatives. For customers, it is frustrating to reach a company representative, only to discover that he has little to no knowledge of the issue in question. If you are a customer-engaging employee, you must be knowledgeable enough to recognize the person's problem—even when she is not describing it in the appropriate technical terms. This customer service skill requires that you research each product and service. If you are a marketing person, for example, you should know the price ranges for each major product and have a general idea of its capabilities. In larger companies, where it is impossible to know everything about every product, you should know enough to connect the caller to the appropriate person.
4. Crisis Management
Successful interaction with customers at times calls for strong, crisis management skills. If a conversation or interaction with a customer gets out of hand, an effective employee can de-escalate it quickly and bring it back to calmer territory. This skill can help you transform angry or frustrated people into satisfied customers. Basic crisis management skills are valuable assets, even for employees who are not dedicated customer service representatives that routinely encounter truly heated customer situations.
With a focus on efficiency, you can save customers time and increase their overall satisfaction. The end goal for most customers is to get what they want in the shortest possible time. As an employee, one way to improve the overall client experience is to provide efficient service. Each transaction or conversation should last only as long as is necessary to understand the customer's needs and deliver the ideal solution.
By training yourself and your colleagues to think and act like a customer service professional, you can improve each customer interaction. As a result, you establish a more efficient process and a happier client base.
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