Need a little help with relating to your customers while you’re on the job? Learn the key customer service skills and how to develop them right here.
As a customer service representative, you deal with two extremes while on the clock: loyal customers ready to splurge and dissatisfied buyers a few clicks away from a one-star Yelp review.
More often than not, it’s a thankless career.
And only 30% remain in customer service for 6-10 years. So most leave the field before perfecting their interpersonal skills.
But if you can survive a few months of rowdy, displeased customers, you may realize you were born to help struggling people desperate for help.
Master those customer service skills with these nine tips!
The Customer is Always Right [Well, Sort of]
“The customer is always right” is a line drilled into our heads from an early age. But some customers take advantage of the mantra and expect free products or full refunds for their carelessness or mistakes.
Listen to their perspective as they reveal that the company didn’t live up to their expectations. However, don’t give in to their every demand.
A full refund may be against company policy after 90 days. But if your boss approves 25% or 50% refunds on an as-needed basis, offer it to polite customers feeling disappointed.
If a product broke, see if you can offer a repair or a refurbished replacement.
Just because a customer shouts “I want a new …” that doesn’t mean they’re entitled to one!
Allow Customers to Provide Feedback
Some people are more reserved by nature, afraid to reveal their emotions to a customer service representative on the other line. Allowing customers to provide anonymous feedback can help the entire team succeed!
Printing (or emailing) links to online customer satisfaction surveys is your chance to collect feedback — both good or bad. It also helps to attach an incentive, like a discount or free product code.
Master the Tech Skills
The bulk of your job revolves around communication skills.
But your managers also expect you to be productive and tech-savvy. Mastering your company’s tech tools can set you apart from your peers and save your customers precious time.
Learn the tips and tricks to the live chat system, web app, and ticketing programs to offer sound advice and end calls sooner. If you helm a cash register, learn how to troubleshoot common issues.
Show Some Empathy!
Many customers will expect you to bend over backward for them, threatening never to return if you don’t “fix” their problem. But as radical as these buyers may seem, it’s often misplaced frustration or disappointment.
Practice empathy and try to understand their perspective.
Toss around phrases like “I understand” or “that sound’s frustrating” or “I see why you’re angry.” Your customers are humans too. They want to air their grievances and, if appropriate, have somebody take accountability for them.
Empathy does wonders for building long-term relationships with customers.
Guarantee You’re on the Same Page
The jargon your company or industry uses may seem like a foreign language to your customer base. If an angry caller doesn’t know how a product works or you can’t appease a customer’s request, explain why (or how).
Before hanging up or allowing them to walk away, ask customers if they understand what you’re saying. Or ask if they have any more lingering questions.
The more help you can be to them, the better!
Learn About the Company
The line between repeating back “the customer is always right” and flat-out snapping “you’re wrong” is very, very fine. Plus, caving to your customers’ every whim could cost the company money and ruin your reputation.
Take some time to learn about your company.
Memorize the return policy, discount deal fine print, or any common complaints that customers mention. Armed with the facts, you can stay in line with company expectations without customers swindling you.
Don’t promise them something you can’t provide to convince them to hang up sooner and leave a five-star review.
Ask Your Employer for Customer Service Training
Businesses that care about customer service will continue coaching employees well after orientation. Some companies host quarterly or annual training sessions.
Ask your manager about course offerings so you and your team can continue to hone those skills.
Control Your Emotions
Customers will stoop to new lows to get their way, even if it means insulting you in the process.
Remember that your response reflects both you and your company. In other words, don’t answer the way you would if somebody shouted the same thing while walking down the street.
Resist the urge to lash out or spew insults back. These customers are unhappy with your company or a product, and you happen to be in the way.
Take a deep breath and gather yourself.
Ask what’s fueling their anger specifically and, if they’re particularly unruly, get a manager involved.
Talk About Your Day!
Some shifts will feel more rewarding than others. But unfortunately, it’s not always under your control whether today’s a “good” or “bad” day.
Instead of allowing the despair or frustration to bottle up and wear you thin, find somebody you can vent to about your workday.
Maybe it’s a spouse or a parent.
Or it could be a fellow employee who’s weathered the same storms.
Talking about your emotions can reduce your stress and revive your passion for customer service. Ignoring those same emotions increases your risk for anxiety, substance abuse, and even heart disease.
The customer service world may not be for everyone. But it can be rewarding if you have a passion for helping others.
The most important skill you’ll learn in the industry is separating yourself from your job. Customers may attack you personally or leave you wondering whether you’re really cut out for the position.
Don’t let the bad experiences define you.
If you want to improve your customer service skills, it already shows a willingness to put your customers and company first.
That’s a rare and admirable trait!
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