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Customer Service Techniques

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Diploma in Customer Service
Customer Service Basics
Customer Service Techniques

Making a Good First Impression
Every salesperson in every business knows the importance of making a positive first impression. Sales people know their success and livelihood will depend on how their potential customer perceives them in the first 30 seconds of interaction.

Good salespeople develop an almost instantaneous rapport with potential customers. Customers like them, follow their advice and then buy their product.

The reality is that we prefer doing business with those we like and trust. Impressions are the key to developing trust and confidence in the customer.

As the old saying goes, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is why the first impression is extremely important and can set the tone for all future transactions.

Here are some ways of creating positive impressions:

Thoughtfulness in meeting the customer’s needs
Personal responsibility for a customer
Quick problem solving for customer
Offering immediate assistance
Friendliness
Using customer’s name in a conversation
Pleasant voice tone
Polite and courteous manners
Neatness
A genuine smile

Here are some factors that create a negative impression:

Making the customer wait
Not answering the phone promptly
Not saying “please” and/or “thank you”
Speaking loudly or condescendingly to customers or colleagues
Making faces, frowning, acting distant, not smiling
Looking disheveled or like you do not care about your appearance
A poor handshake
Focusing on another task while addressing or servicing a customer

Remember: Impressions stay with those you meet, especially customers, and once registered; negative impressions are difficult to overcome.

Simple Actions, Huge Returns

As the following statistics demonstrate, simple customer service can create huge returns for a business.

Customers will spend up to 10% more for the same product with better service.

When customers receive good service they tell 10-12 people on average.

When customers receive poor service they tell upwards of 20 people.

There is an 82% chance customers will repurchase from a company where they were satisfied.

There is a 91% chance that poor service will dissuade a customer from ever going back to a company.

Presenting Yourself
It is often not what you articulate but how it is presented. What you wear and how you express yourself has a lot to do with how what you say is received.

Have you ever noticed how a person who is dressed-up, even in older or out-of-style clothing, always commands more authority and respect? The impression they make and what they have to say is enhanced by their personal presentation, facial and hand gestures, as well as the substance of what they have to say.

As it turns out, substance is only part of the equation of being persuasive and influencing perception.
On one level this seems unfair and superficial because what a person says and how they behave should be more important than if they are well groomed, smiling and dressed-up.

Yet visual perception plays a vital role in human impressions and reactions. For reasons psychologists do not always understand, nature and learned behavior have taught humans to perceive neat, smiling, well-presented individuals in a more commanding manner.

The Interpersonal Actions of Customer Service
The Interpersonal Actions of Customer Service
It is clear that just looking good will not produce the desired level of customer satisfaction.

The interpersonal actions in this list mean a great deal in the area of customer relations. They can change customer perceptions and ultimately affect the success of your customer relations efforts.

Click on the markers below to view the list.

Smiling
There is nothing like a smile and pleasant face to greet a customer, especially if he/she has a complaint. A smile and polite conversation can immediately disarm a disgruntled customer.

Facial expression sets a positive tone before you even begin speaking. A relaxed or pleasant facial expression is the ideal most of the time.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is a very important part of customer service. It helps you to appear engaged, confident and trust-worthy.

It is important to always look into your customer’s eyes and directly address customers.

How You Look
Personal grooming has a big impact on your customers. Dirty hands, messy hair and poor dress can mean the loss of an otherwise happy customer.

When interacting with customers, dress neatly and in a professional manner so as to command respect and to let customers know you take your position seriously.

Shaking Hands
When shaking hands with a customer a firm and professional handshake is expected.

This part of the greeting is now common among both men and women in a professional environment

Be Attentive
When listening to a customer, slightly lean towards your customer and nod your head ever so slightly to indicate you are listening.

Tone of Voice
Always convey friendliness and amicability. Do not raise your voice in frustration or anger no matter how difficult or tiresome a customer may behave.

Hand Gestures
Use hand movements to emphasize what you say (even on the phone) and to emphasize your feelings.

Personal Space
This is the distance that feels comfortable between you and another person. If another person approaches you and invades your personal space, you automatically move back without thought. You are uncomfortable.

Leave adequate distance between you and your customer. Adequate space is important to making customers feel secure and unthreatened.

Posture
Slumping in a chair or leaning against a wall while interacting with a customer are sure signs you are not interested in the customer.

Your pose or posture should express attention, friendliness, and openness. Lean forward, face the customer and nod to let them know you are interested.

Observation
Notice how your customer behaves and what he/she reacts positively to while you are providing service.

Conversations Over the Telephone
The moment you pick up a telephone, body language and visual perceptions disappear and your tone of voice becomes dominant. Almost the entire message you project to the customer over the phone is derived from tone of voice and attitude.

For example:
A flat tone of voice says to the customer, “I don’t like my job and would rather be elsewhere.”

Slow pitch and presentation say, “I am sad and lonely - do not bother me.”

A high pitch, rapid voice says, “I am enthusiastic and excited!”

A loud voice says, “I’m angry and aggressive.”

Answering the Telephone

Answering the Telephone
How a company answers the phone can tell the whole story of how they treat customers and employees. The correct phrase said in the right order in a positive tone leaves a good impression and starts the customer-client relationship off on the right foot.

Pick up the Phone
Pick up the phone in three rings.

More than three rings signals chaos in your office or inattentiveness on the part of your company or organization.

Greet the Caller
Greet the caller, e.g. “hello”, “good morning”.

Good manners show you respect the caller.

Give Your Name
Give your name, e.g., “Hi, my name is Emma”.

This is a courtesy that serves to personalize the customer service experience as well as allowing the customer to hold you accountable for your level of service.

He/she now has a point of reference and someone to contact when he/she calls back.

Ask How You Can Help
Ask the customer if or how you can help.

Asking to help tells the customer you are there to serve his/her needs and to solve his/her problems.

This also leaves the customer with a positive impression.

Put It All Together
Put it altogether and you have a good example:

“Good morning, thanks for calling the Insect Farming and Trading
Agency, my name is Emma, how may I help you?”

The greeting is key, it sets the tone and style of the whole interaction.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting
When providing customer service over the phone, unavoidable situations may arise that lead to the customer becoming upset.

Click on the tips below to learn how to best handle these situations.

Putting a Customer on Hold
• Ask the customer if you can put them on hold; wait for him/her to say “yes” or “no” and then explain it will only be for a short period of time.
• Explain to the customer why you are putting him/her on hold.
• After you return to the phone, thank the customer for holding.

Transferring a Call
Ask the customer if they mind being transferred; wait for them to say “yes” or “no” and explain why they are being transferred and to whom.

Taking a Message
• Explain your co-workers absence in a positive light but do not be too specific.
• Explain that your co-worker is in a meeting, conference, briefing, or training.
• Do not say he or she is gravely ill, is too hung over to come to work, never called in today, can’t be found, that you do not know where he or she is, or that he or she “was just here”.
• Give a reasonable estimate of when the co-worker will return.
• Offer to help the caller, take a message or transfer to another staff member.
• If a co-worker is on holiday and will not return to the office for some time, it is permissible to say that he or she is on holiday. However, avoid details such as, “Raymond is at the beach and I am sure he is having a great time.” While such details may seem innocuous and even humorous, they give the wrong impression to those seeking service.

Ending the Call
This is the final step in good telephone etiquette.

A good customer service representative ends the call on a positive note, repeating any actions agreed to be taken and what is going to be done to help or serve the customer.

Prompt Answering of Business E-mail
Answering your business email promptly should be a priority for all businesses. Not only is e-mail an important communication line with your customers, it is often used by them to gauge that you are trustworthy.

If a customer sends you an e-mail with a simple question, and you take forever to answer it, what does that say about the rest of your operation? It's one of the tell-tale signs customers use to separate men from boys. And we all want to play with the big guys, don't we?

Talking about the big businesses, surveys show that the Top-500 fail miserably at answering their business email. Jupiter Communications reported that 42% took more than 5 days to answer a simple question.

In the world of Internet, that might as well have been forever. If a customer has to wait that long for an answer, most likely she will have taken their business elsewhere. 35% of companies don't even bother to answer at all. Forrester Research is reporting figures that are similar.

Business e-mail should be answered within 24 hours max. No exceptions. At that rate, you’re doing a lot better than a lot of other businesses.

If you really want your customer service to shine, you should consider answering your business e-mail twice a day with a 12 hour interval.

It is even better to check out your direct competition by sending them an e-mail as if you are a potential customer. Send them more than one on several days.

Especially check out Mondays, Fridays and weekends. Track the time it's taking them to answer, and implement a procedure to beat them at the business e-mail game.

It may be difficult for small businesses to promptly reply to e-mail as resources are limited. However, your stream of business email is most likely to be a lot less than that of bigger companies. If you check and answer e-mail regularly, your staff will be more than likely be able to cope with the workload.

END OF UNIT:
Customer Service Techniques

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