In South Africa we are not always guaranteed to get good service, and when we do experience it, we take it for granted. I’ve been fortunate to travel overseas over the years and experience various levels of customer service, with many of them being very poor.
A few weeks ago, my family and I went to a very well-known restaurant and whilst going through the menus, my sister-in-law realised that she didn’t bring her glasses. She, like myself, are frustratingly developing poor eyesight as we are a little long in the tooth. We thought we were being funny when we asked our waiter “Mike” who was patiently waiting to take our orders if he maybe had some glasses my sister-in-law could borrow. He went away and a few minutes later “Mike” proudly produces a small tray with 2 reading glasses. My sister-in-law tried the first one and what would you know, the glasses were suitable enough for her to read the menu, voila and a delightful and unexpected solution found!
Now; that is what I call GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE!
So; how do we define Good Customer Service?
For me… I believe that we need to go the extra mile for our customers or clients – give them more than they expect from us. Be clear and concise with our communication and provide rapid responses to tasks and challenges. The old adage of under promise and over perform is my lighthouse.
The key to good customer service is building good relationships with your clients. Promoting a positive, helpful and friendly atmosphere will guarantee that they leave with a great impression. A happy client will be likely to return, and client retention is the cornerstone of any successful business.
There are certain customer service skills that are needed to be mastered if we are front facing with clients. I believe that without them we will be providing inferior customer service to our clients, and we are likely to lose clients by not having the necessary skills.
Below are a few key skills I believe we need to have to master good customer service:
Patience is something that I historically struggled with, but I make a conscience effort every day to work on this flaw especially if I want to keep my business doors open. Some customers will be confused and frustrated, others will be full of questions and others will just be chatty. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time. Be sure to take the time to truly understand what customers really want — Be patient!
2. Attentiveness & Listen
The skill to actively listening to customers is so important in providing great service. Not only is it important to pay attention to individual customer exchanges (watching the body language or terms that they use to describe their problems). Repeat and confirm what you have heard and understood – This shows you have paid attention and get what they have said and require.
3. Clear Communication Skills
When it comes to important points that you need to communicate to customers, keep it simple and ensure that customers know exactly what you mean. Also ensure that you know exactly what the customer is asking your for, don’t assume to understand their needs – always follow up with confirmation e-mails running through what the customer requires.
4. Respond as quickly as possible
One of the biggest factors in good customer service is response speed, especially when a client is requesting something that’s time sensitive. Don’t also make any promises that you might not be able to keep, if you are falling behind, ensure that the customer is aware of the status of the work and manage expectations around deadlines.
5. Fix your mistakes
Not taking responsibility of your mistakes is a guaranteed way of getting a bad reputation. Transparency is important in business and customer service is no different. Always strive for a high-quality output as it shows you have high level of standards and are accountable if any errors have been made – we are all human after all!
6. Go the extra mile
Going the extra mile will not only result in a grateful and happy customer, it can also go a long way in terms of retaining the customer for future business.
A great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done (and not take shortcuts) is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about. The memorable customer service stories out there (many of which had a huge impact on the business) were created by a single person who refused to just do the “status quo” when it came to helping someone out. Get it done!
8. Willingness to learn/ Continuous Growth
Those who don’t seek to improve what they do, whether it’s manufacturing products or providing a service, will get left behind by the people willing to invest in their skills and stay current with new trends and market conditions.
Always provide the type of service that you would like to receive yourself. Simply providing the best possible service to our customers should be the heart of your business and will always bear fruit.