10 Key Customer Service Basics

As a business owner, you want your customers to walk away from your establishment with an excellent experience. That's where your customer service team comes in. Your employees are the face of your company, and they need a set of basics skills to provide your clients with exceptional service. Whether you're a start-up working hard to make a big impression in the market place or you've got the experience of a third-generation mom-and-pop shop, it never hurts to revisit the fundamentals. Let's explore ten key customer service basics that work for every company.

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1. Be Responsive

Being responsive is the number one key to customer service basics. If you want to increase client satisfaction immediately, start responding faster. Try incorporating a chat support system into your company's menu of service-related offerings. Have your team encourage your clients to chat with the help desk by explaining that agents can respond faster and more efficiently. Staff can even resolve issues and provide support on the go.

Excellent customer service creates a stream of revenue from referrals, thanks to your abundance of happy clients. Those satisfied clients find your company accessible and easy to talk to. There are tons of live chat software tools available online that offer robust support applications that don't require an IT department. These programs come loaded with features and can collect leads for the sales department too.

2. Be Mindful of Time Management

Spending time with your clients is a clear-cut customer service basic. However, there has to be a limit. The goal is to get your customers what they want in an efficient manner. Once your team realizes they can't help a customer, the next course of action is to pass it up the chain. The best support professional won't waste time trying to go above and beyond for a customer in an area where they'll just end up wasting everyone's time.

Likewise, some customers enjoy lingering and chatting with your staff. While this is an excellent sign that your clients feel comfortable in your establishment, your employees need to know when it's time to get back to work and help the next person in line. Remind your representatives to refrain from telling a customer that they're “busy.” That one little word can make someone feel like they've just hit the bottom of your priority list.

3. Improve Overall Communication Skills

Listening to what your customers are actually saying is the only way to answer their questions appropriately. If your staff members don't understand the problem, how can you expect them to fix it? Whether they're working on the phones, email support, or social media, it's important to read, listen, and process the information before your team responds.

Remember to do more than just answer shoppers' questions; when your team practices excellent customer service, the whole organization learns to develop solutions. Always encourage your representatives to welcome feedback from the client. Sometimes it's hard to hear, sure. But every comment is valuable, be it complimentary or constructive. It allows your organization and its people to grow and improve, thereby increasing cash flow.

4. Have Patience

Your team spends most of their time interacting with customers, so encourage service agents to be patient. As we noted under communication skills, by understanding the customer's needs, your team can help solve their problems and concerns. When speaking with an angry patron, having a calming presence will go a long way toward relieving the tension.

When you're warm and welcoming, the conversation tends to be much more pleasant, even when the other person is upset. Sometimes an honest and sincere apology is the best choice of action. It just might do the trick, even if the issue isn't your staff member's fault. Your representative embodies the company as a whole, and it's ok to say you're sorry on behalf of the team.

5. Build Goal-Oriented Focus

The customer support service team is the backbone of every organization. Once the foundation is in place, shift your focus to goal-oriented service training. When your company receives a service call or complaint, ensure you have a simple procedure in place to capture and track this critical information. An Excel spreadsheet is a terrific place to log this data. These details will help drive improvements in all areas of the organization, from shipping to sales.

If you really want to take a hard look at your company's customer satisfaction figures, there are a variety of sophisticated online resources. These programs help track what your response times are like in real-world situations, if your support team meets customers' expectations, and how likely are your customers to recommend you.

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6. Improve Employees’ Persuasion Skills

Does your organization have the gift of persuasion? This skill is one customer service basic that you shouldn't underestimate. Start with common courtesy. A simple please and thank you are still appreciated by most patrons. Good manners add a little extra when delivering the voice of your company and keep the clientele feeling important. Be friendly, personable, and authentic in your communication, especially when trying to be persuasive.
First impressions are critical, and the words your forward-facing employees say will set the stage for the rest of the conversation. Language is a vital part of persuasion, and customers develop perceptions about your company based on how your staff communicates.

The difference between “I can't get you that product until next month" to "That product will be available next month and the sales department can pre-order it for you right now," is persuasion skills.

7. Encourage Tenacity

Tenacity is about having a great work ethic, and the willingness to do whatever needs to get done is a key customer service basic. This skill is all about how to avoid taking shortcuts. If your company's goal is to provide the kind of service that people remember and talk about, you'll see a significant impact on your business's bottom line. A team member who's willing to put in the extra effort should be your driving motivation. Never cheat your customers with lazy service; the extra effort will always come back to you ten-fold.

When you're selecting employees for your service team, ask candidates about times in their career when they were given a challenging situation to see through to completion. Right from the interview process, you want to know if they remain enthusiastic, or did they give up in the face of adversity. Providing good customer service isn't always easy. It takes a person with tenacity to keep a smile on their face — and in their voice — through tough times.

8. Value Everyone's Time

No one wants to feel like they're wasting time, not your employees, and especially not your customers. Make sure your team understands the value of time. We've discussed time management, however, value is something a bit more. Everyone wants to feel important, and when your customers think this way, they'll be back.

A smile and a warm hello can go a long way to spreading those warm fuzzies. If you know the customer's name, use it. When a person makes multiple calls about an issue, look into the notes and give them an update. If you need to put them on hold, offer a reasonable hold time. Waiting for five minutes is a lot less frustrating when the customer can agree to it upfront. The last thing you want is angry customers hanging up on your service personnel.

9. Expand Product Knowledge

Another essential basic is a thorough knowledge of the company's product line. The happiest customers come from working with employees that have a strong understanding of how your product works. Having a few tricks under their sleeves will help your customer support team navigate your shopper's most complicated situations with ease. Being armed with this knowledge also helps your staff build a better understanding of their experience so they can become stronger advocates of the company.

10. Closing Ability

In this context, closing doesn't mean "the sale." What this section refers to is being able to end the conversation with a customer knowing they're satisfied with your agent's response. Your clients walk away with the feeling of being taken care of or they know that help is on the way.

Being rushed off the phone or brushed aside on social media is damaging to relationships. Take the time to ensure all of their problems are addressed before saying good-bye — and actually say “good-bye,” even on a chat. That simple word lets your client know that your agent believes the conversation is over on their end and that your company appreciates them. Even though time is valuable, your team members always have a moment for this humble courtesy.

Every time your staff and customers interact is essential. It's one part of their overall experience that creates what every business wants: regulars. Without service standards, companies probably wouldn't have any customers at all. Before you find your company amid an embarrassing customer service train-wreck, incorporate these ten key customer service basics into your team's daily routine.

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