How to Improve Your Customer Service Skills
In any given company, many of the jobs on offer will require you to deal with the customers in some form of another. From shops to offices to restaurants to just about any business on the market, each one of these establishments need customers in order to sustain themselves. Keeping these satisfied and happy is the key to bringing in business.
Whenever taking on new staff, the employer will be keen to examine how the would-be employees interact with fellow businesses and members of the public. If a candidate can demonstrate a level of smoothness and efficiency in dealing with various enquiries, they will be more likely to secure and keep a role with the company.
So how does one demonstrate good customer service skills? Below are some guidelines to help you along.
Mind your manners
There’s nothing that puts a customer – or employer – off more than a rude, thoughtless or careless staff member. A member of the team who seems to even vaguely care about the people they work for is the one that everyone will remember for the right reasons.
This means remembering your basic manners, starting with using please and thank you at every appropriate moment. When dealing with customers face-to-face, eye contact is a must. The value of a positive, genuine smile that reaches the eyes must never be underestimated.
Get used to using the telephone
Most if not all companies will have a telephone line to make themselves more readily accessible to customers. If you are the staff member who picks up the phone when a customer calls in, creating a good impression is essential.
Start on a positive note. State the company name (e.g. Halfords, Pizza Hut, The Wonder Wig Store) and follow up with a question such as: “How may I help?” This is a standard formula and it simply works. Speaking clearly and annunciating is a sensible thing to do, for obvious reasons.
Once the dialogue has been had, it’s important to end the call as positively as it began, ensuring that both parties have understood the outcome of the call. If you need to repeat anything you’re not sure of, go for it.
Deliver the goods
The reason why any business deals with customers in the first place is to help them achieve a goal, whether this is acquiring a piece of information, an enjoyable meal or a can of baked beans. Ensuring that everything within the company’s power is performed to help the customer to achieve what they’re looking for is an important part of that company’s survival.
All customers will expect a business to act on its promises. This doesn’t merely apply to the organisation as a whole, but to each member of staff that the customers interact with. If you tell a customer you’ll find something out for them, it’s important that you do so with as little delay as possible. In a busy environment, with many different demands coming from various sources, the vast range of requests can overlap and get confused.
It can be helpful to make a note of all the request asks, ticking them off as and when they are dealt with successfully. A bit of organisation in any customer-employee relationship will never go amiss. When a customer approaches a member of staff with a problem, it’s down to that staff member to make sure they understand the problem by asking the right questions, gaining as much information as they can so that a viable solution (or solutions) can be found.
Searching for that solution in a prompt manner is the next step, keeping the customer in the loop at all times regarding what you’re doing. The wider the variety of solutions provided, the better. For example, if a hotel guest asks the receptionist if there are any half-decent Chinese restaurants in the local area, a thorough research into the number of restaurants, along with locations and directions, will hopefully yield a range of options for the customer.
The bigger picture
As frustrating and stressful as customer interactions can be at times, it’s those very interactions that are vital in keeping the business alive. If the company loses customers, the people in charge will look for the reasons why. Making sure you, as a member of staff, are not one of those reasons is well within your interests.
If, on the other hand, you are the kind of person who customers come away from feeling better off for having spoken to, with their needs satisfied and their day brightened, then any employer with any sense will feel lucky to have you on board. Whatever you can do to ensure that your efforts are tip-top, make sure you do them.
If you stand out for the customers, you’re sure to stand out for the employers.