Diploma in Customer Service
Customer Service Basics
Communicating With Customers
Communicating with Customers
How many times have you, as a customer, run into the problem of excuses. There is a problem and the sales person, technician or customer service representative is making unacceptable excuses, such as:
It is the fault of the computer
It is the fault of the other sales clerk
It is the fault of the chief of the department
It is the fault of the system
It is the fault of the Government
It is just the way it is
Sometimes it feels as if nothing is anybody’s fault or is in anybody’s department.
This is poor customer service. Good customer service means accountability, responsibility and taking action to satisfy the customer.
This unit will highlight the importance of knowing how the customer feels and explain how to communicate with customers.
When a customer comes to you with a problem it is important that you take responsibility to solve the problem. You can take responsibility for a customer complaint in the following ways:
Listen without interruption and with full attention
Behave without aggression, and without arguing
Do not extend excuses for the problem, and thank the customer for drawing their attention to it and helping solve it
Express sympathy and full understanding
Begin the Problem Solving Process
After you have listened to, and taken reasonability for, the customer's complaint the problem solving process will begin.
Click on the steps below for a detailed explanation of how you would initiate this process
Ask necessary questions to get more complete picture of the situation.
Identify the Customer's Needs
Find out exactly what the customer needs you to do for them.
Explain What You Can and Cannot Do
Explain first what you can do, and then gently add what you cannot do.
Discuss in detail all options, and then decide what needs to be done.
Undertake the agreed upon action immediately.
Check the Result
Check the result to make sure the customer is completely satisfied.
If a customer is unsatisfied (for just or unjust reasons), you will have to use some of the many techniques of the customer service professional to win their support and continued loyalty.
Click on the markers below to view a detailed explanation of these techniques
It is of primary importance when dealing with an unsatisfied or complaining customer to listen attentively to his/her complaint, gripe, frustration or grievance.
Be patient, attentive, and friendly.
Express That You Are Sorry
Apologise to the customer in one of the following ways:
"We are sorry for this mistake/problem.”
“We are terribly sorry for this inconvenience.”
“How can we work to solve this problem together?”
“I can imagine how frustrated you are.”
Do Not Argue and Do Not Interrupt
This will only worsen the situation, especially if the customer is angry.
Let him/her speak before you try to discuss with him what has happened.
Do Not Lose Your Self-Control
If you stay relaxed, customers will calm down.
Point Out Facts
Listen carefully - and write everything down. Do not make any comments until the customer is finished talking.
Admit the Problem
If you can suggest a solution, do so. If not, tell the customer what actions you will take and what actions will follow.
Never make the mistake of promising something you are not able to do.
Involve the Customer in Problem Solving
Suggest the customer alternative solutions, if they exist.
Customers appreciate the opportunity to choose the ways of problem solving.
Make sure that the promised measures are taken.
If you do not fulfill what was promised and ignore the customer’s complaint, the problem will grow.
Next time it will be more difficult to solve.
Give the Customer a “Way Back”
Sometimes customers are wrong.
You should let them leave with dignity, without feeling embarrassed.
Do Not Question the Customer’s Correctness
From the very beginning you should believe that the customer may be right.
Always be open minded toward the customer’s opinion, make them feel they deserve to be listened to.
Ten Major Don’ts of Customer Service
Ten Major Don’ts of Customer Service
Every day customer service representatives face situations when what they say makes or breaks a service interaction. This interaction lists ten phrases that should never be used because they frustrate and anger customers.
Click on the markers below to view these phrases and learn alternative phrases which better serve the customer
Everyone hates the word “no”. It is de -motivating, discouraging, and disinteresting. You will hear this word throughout your life as a customer and as a service provider. “No” is tantamount to “bad service.” “No” is easy, cheap, unproductive and negative - it means failure.
Unfortunately, “no” is the word we most often hear when a new idea, request or concept is introduced. Admittedly, there are times when you will have to say “no,” but focus on what you can do for the customer (accentuate the positive) and not the negatives of the situation.
Better to say “What I can do is...” and demonstrate that you care and want to provide quality service despite your current limitations.
I Don’t Know
Good service means never saying, “I don’t know.”
When a customer hears “I don’t know,” they hear, “I don’t feel like finding the information you need.”
Better to say, “I’ll find out” or “Let me look into this and get back to you ASAP.”
That’s Not My Job /That’s Not My Department:
When a customer asks you to do something that you do not know how to do or do not have the authority to do, become a catalyst by leading the customer to the person or department who can help him/her solve the problem.
Better to say, “Let me transfer to the person who can immediately help you will this problem.”
You’re Right, That is Bad:
Many inexperienced customer service representatives think by sympathizing with the customer’s plight, he/she will win over the customer rather than actually doing something to solve the customer’s problem.
If a customer expresses annoyance or frustration, do not make it worse by commiserating with him/her. Empathize with the customer but seek to solve the problem.
Likewise, it does not do your company or organization any good to criticize co-workers or other departments within the company or to the customers. All interested parties end up looking unprofessional and inept.
Rather try your best to accommodate the customer. Do not promise anything you cannot deliver but do try to serve the customer well. Better to say, “I understand your frustration, let’s see how we can solve this problem.”
When customers are upset or angry let them vent (within reason) and they will eventually calm down.
Telling them to “calm down” is belittling, and often serves only to infuriate them further. Better to say, “I’m sorry.”
This is one of the ideal phrases for customer service - it helps to placate the angriest of customers and allows you to begin the process of solving a customer complaint or request and “meet him/her half way.”
Apologizing does not mean you agree with the customer but it is a means to empathize and move beyond the emotion of the moment and negative impact.
I’m Busy Right Now
It is not easy to juggle customers. You are often helping one customer when another calls or visits your service area.
Asking a customer to be patient or politely asking them to wait is very different than putting them off and saying you are too busy to help.
Leaving them standing there or on hold are two of the mortal sins of customer service. “Being too busy” is tantamount to saying that you do not care and they are not important.
Let the customer know they are important and you are aware of their presence. Better to say, “I’ll be with you in one moment” or “Please hold and I’ll be right with you.”
Call Me Back
This expression conveys little interest on the part of the customer relation’s employee for the needs and wants of the customer.
You should always call the customer back because you want their business and are responsive to their requests.
Being proactive is part of good customer service.
That’s Not My Fault
If an angry customer accuses you of creating a problem, rightly or wrongly, the natural reaction is to defend oneself.
However, this is not the best course of action. The customer has a problem that needs to be solved.
By resisting the need to defend yourself, and focusing on the needs of the customer, you can resolve the problem faster and with less stress and confrontation.
Better to say, “Let’s see what we can do about this problem.
You Need to Talk to My Supervisor
This cliché of bad customer service has angered and frustrated customers for decades.
Customers often ask for things outside the scope of your work or authority - maybe even outside the services/products provided by your company.
While passing off these requests to your manager is a tempting option, it is better if you attempt to solve the problem yourself or directly go to the supervisor yourself and get a solution.
You become a service hero for the customer and the supervisor. Better to say, “Let me find that out for you.”
You Want it by When?
Customers often make unrealistic demands, especially when it comes to time.
Your first reaction may be annoyance and you may want to make a snide or sarcastic comment.
However, the best approach is to hold off on displaying a negative attitude and making a poor impression.
Better to say, “I will call you right back after I find out if that is feasible.”
Polite and Friendly Responses
The table below provides a list of polite and friendly alternatives to responses that should never be used by a customer service provider.
Wrong Response Polite and Friendly Alternative
“I don’t know.” “I’ll find out.”
“No.” “What I can do is...”
“That’s not my job.” “Let me find the right person who can help you with ...”
“You’re right - this is bad.” “I understand your frustrations.”
“That’s not my fault.” “Let’s see what we can do about this.”
“You want it by when?” “I’ll try my best.”
“Calm down.” “I’m sorry.”
“I’m busy right now.” “I’ll be with you in just a moment.”
“Call me back.” “I will call you back, what is your telephone number.”
Everyday Customer Service Practices
While dealing with complaints is a very important part of customer service it is important to remember that customer service begins the moment a customer first engages with your business. The following actions should be practiced everyday by any company seeking to provide excellent customer service:
Be on time, open on time, deliver on time
Follow through and deliver your promises
Go the extra miler for customers
Offer your customer options
Express empathy to upset customers
Treat customers as the MOST important part of your job
Give customers your name and contact details
Initiative in Customer Service
The practicing of superior customer service requires initiative. Initiative is the difference between adequate customer service and customer service that wins you a customer for life. The following are everyday examples of initiative in exceptional customer service:
The taxi driver who opens the door for you or waits for you to safely get inside your destination.
The computer technician who does computer work and then calls back a week later to make sure your IT is functioning well.
The petrol station attendant who washes your window or checks your oil.
The electric company who calls and checks to make sure your service is working well and apologizes for any “brown outs” or “black outs.”
None of these customer service people HAD to make this extra effort or go to this trouble.
These “goodwill initiatives” are beyond the call of duty and make the customer beyond satisfied.
They make the customer remember the transaction or occasion.
Every organisation seeking to provide excellent customer service should seek encourage and reward initiative in their employees.
Customer Service Statistics
While going the extra mile in customer service may not produce an obvious, immediate benefit it plays a huge part in the reputation and long-term health of a business. The statistics below highlight this fact:
People spend up to 10 % more for the same product with better service
When people receive good service, on average, they tell 11 people
When people receive poor service, on average, they tell up to 20 people
There is an 80 % chance that customers will repurchase from a company if their complaint is handled quickly and pleasantly
If the service is really poor, 90 % of customers won’t come back
END OF UNIT:
Communicating with Customers
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