Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. The purpose of customer service is to create loyal customers and attract new customers through word of mouth.
As the world has dealt with the pandemic, our individual lives have been altered and businesses have had to make many adjustments. We commend the creativity and unique ways businesses have responded to keep their businesses open.
I have had many conversations just this past week with consumers and business owners that have expressed frustration with customer service. Some of the issues reported include:
- Telephones not being answered
- Emails not being returned in a timely manner.
- Employees that do not know their products/services, or when all regular products will be available again.
- Local calls directed to a call center with someone who doesn’t speak English very well.
- Overall lack of communication from the top down.
There were two main themes to the consumers’ frustration:
1. Lack of Communication
- Clear understanding of company Goals
- Employees should be reminded of the goals regularly. Managers and CEO’s need to share the vision, set deadlines, deliverables, and results and let them figure out the “how”. By empowering the employees to be able to handle situations and make decisions will build confidence and drive the company to greater results.
- Listening Skills
- The #1 best way to make people feel valued is to listen to them.
- Listen before speaking, make eye contact, and repeat back for clarity and understanding.
2. Trained Staff
Too often when people say they are “a people person” it is assumed they have good customer service skills. Being a people person is a trait, it means you are social and most likely can talk to most anyone. This trait however does not mean you have been taught the skill set to give exceptional customer service.
Exceptional customer service training is more than a one-time training at the point of hire. To consistently deliver exceptional customer service be sure to incorporate on-going training for all your staff. We all need reminders of things that need improvement and when things change to words of appreciation when an employee is doing a good job.
One of the stories I heard was from a frustrated consumer who went to a local restaurant. When they tried to place their order, the selections on the menu were very limited. The employee did not know why the menu items were unavailable and this situation was not only frustrating to the consumer but also the employee.
Some retail industries have daily team meetings. It is during these team meetings that employees need to be kept informed if product shipments are late or adjustments have been made.
Customer service is not just for external customers, it is important to use customer services skills within your company as well. When you hear negative customer feedback on a poor experience, use that as a tool to improve. It is the job of everyone in the organization to give customer service.
Leonard, K. (2019, January 31). Effective communication in customer service. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-communication-customer-service-4806.html
Scout, H. (2019, November 8). 16 key customer service skills (and how to develop them). Retrieved from https://www.helpscout.com/blog/customer-service-skills/
Ward, S. (2020, April 8). The 8 simple rules for good customer service. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/rules-for-good-customer-service-2948079