In a world of digital transparency, having a competent customer service team makes for a make-or-break situation. Having the right training from the start is not only crucial for customer satisfaction and retainment, but also builds positive morale for your team since positive feedback only feeds positive performance.
Even if you don’t have a customer service team, keeping these tips in mind when you need to be in a client-facing position can make all the difference in the world. Besides, you know what they say: when you can’t outspend the competition, but you can out-service them. Keep reading as we share some tried and true tips for building a solid, world-class customer service team!
Know your audience
It goes without saying that the success for any business rides on their understanding of their customer base or profile; the knowledge you gain about your target demographic should be reflected in your customer service approach relative to the way you communicate. For example, if you’re a lifestyle retail company with a young customer base, then the diction and tone should reflect that. Instead of saying: "thank you for reaching you", try "hey! how's your day going?"
Be accurate in your communication
It’s one thing to be concise and effective, and another to be trite. Using generic responses like “thank you for waiting, we will get back to you shortly” is a turnoff because it comes off as impersonal and doesn’t provide much information to the customer. Try to communicate the message in a direct yet in a way that is consistent to your brand, such as: “our customer service rep is on another call, but you’re next in line!”
Be a ray of sunshine
This is pretty much a cardinal rule, but needs to be said nonetheless: always frame our answers in a positive way no matter what. For example, instead of saying, “the item you’re looking for is no longer in stock”, try saying: “the item you’re looking for will be back in stock next week - would you like me to reserve it for you?”
Have the right CRM tools
No matter how great your customer service team is, it doesn’t mean anything if they can’t effectively manage their customers. Research CRM tools, make a decision based on your business model and industry, draw up a user manual specific to your company’s procedures, and stick with it. There are countless tools out there, so make sure to trial your top picks to see which suits your team the best.
Take control of the situation
Dealing with difficult customers is always stressful, and it can definitely be grating having to face angry customers on a regular basis. While this is inevitable once in a while, you can learn to take control of the situation by first acknowledging the issue so they know they’re being heard, but immediate refocus the discussion on the solution, and provide clear steps on how to achieve it. Of course, relay repeat complaints to the company, so they can consider more permanent sotlutions.
It’s important not to make any assumptions about a situation just because you’ve dealt with it in the past. Don’t be dismissive about the customer’s concerns; instead, take the time to address it, so they know you actually care about resolving the problem. From the customer’s perspective, it’s not always about getting what they want, but knowing that you actually care about their negative experience.
One way to avoid the above problem is working with your team to teach them how to actively listen. This means repeating and rewording what the customer has said to gain clearer understanding, acknowledging their feelings by saying phrases like “that sounds like a frustrating situation” or “I’m sorry to hear that you had to deal with that”, and summarising the conversation and detail action points like you would any meeting.
Efficiency is king
When receiving negative feedback, first contact is really important. Streamline the processes in your customer service team by keeping responses and questions simple, direct, and easy to understand. Also, have an arsenal of canned responses on hand for addressing common concerns. This not only shows competence, but the speed to which you can respond will act as damage control for those angry customers.
Never say I don’t know
Another cardinal rule you’re likely familiar with is never saying ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’ to the customer. Not only does it indicate the company’s apathy for the customer, it also suggests that the company is not being responsible about their product / service, and promise to the customer. Instead, you can say “I don’t know but here’s how I’m going to find out”, and detail a time that you’ll follow up.
Reward your team
Regular training days with updated procedures and sharing sessions is important for keeping the customer service team on the same page, and keeping your standard high. Be sure to point out especially great interactions, and reward individuals who perform well. The key isn’t to make the others feel bad about their performance, but to show your appreciation for the difficult job they have.
It’s not always enough to compare yourself with competitors in the context of customer service. At the end of the day, good service is universal and shouldn’t vary much from industry to industry. Look to companies with exceptional customer service and how they operate. Learn from their tactics, and adjust and implement into your own team.
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As part of our #BeTheChange series, we sit down and discuss how work has evolved, with change-makers in our Garage Community.
This week we chat with Zev, an artist and lighting consultant. She uses The 33PRESS moniker for her artistic endeavors, and prefers to remain anonymous!
We chat about finding fulfillment, creating balance, and embracing discomfort in a cut-throat city like Hong Kong.
Author: Ching Lam Ip, Programme & Marketing Lead, Garage Society