At Interstates, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with excellent service. Customer service has become a commonly used buzz phrase. Yet, everyone seems to have a different definition and style of customer service. Simply put, customer service is the action of helping or doing work for your customer. The style is what makes us all unique. However, style can also create an inconsistent experience for our customers. When it comes to customer service, I strive to use a style that builds lasting relationships with customers. Regardless of your personal style or philosophy, here are some tips that have served me well over the years.
1. Listen to your customer.
By practicing active listening, you can better understand the customer’s concerns. You will also feel more confident in serving your customer if you have a thorough understanding of their issue.
2. A little understanding goes a long way.
When something goes wrong for a customer, be understanding and sympathetic. A simple “I’m sorry you’re having this issue, I can see how that is really frustrating,” can make a big difference. I always try to put myself in the customer’s position when dealing with an issue.
3. Solve the problem.
Understanding the issue is important, but actually solving the problem is key. Even if I am unsure of the solution right away, I do everything in my power to resolve the issue or find someone else who can help.
4. Show gratitude.
Our customers are part of our success, so thank them! Great service and appreciation help build lasting relationships.
5. Don’t use negative language.
Avoid using words like, “no”, “can’t” or “won’t” – these words draw a hard line and can seem confrontational.
6. Do tell them what you can do.
Always tell someone what you can do rather than what you can’t. A positive perspective will allow for more constructive conversation.
7. Honesty is the best policy.
Honest, honesty, honest. When in doubt, be honest. Don’t over-promise, over-commit, or sell something you know is not possible. Doing so will reflect negatively on you and the company.
8. Be humble.
You might be the smartest person in the room, but you need to let others speak and be heard. Limit interruptions and speak only when you have the floor.
9. Admit to mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes and when you do, admit it. This is a hard concept for most people as no one likes the feeling of having done something wrong. However, it’s more efficient and productive to admit to a misstep right away and move on. This also helps deepen trust between you and your customers or peers.
10. Understand the customer.
Be aware of what your customer is telling you, without actually telling you. Tone and body language can reveal a lot about how a person is feeling. If you’re in a good mood and a customer responds with a monotonous, one-word answer, take note of that. For instance, we’ve all been in a grocery line impatiently waiting while the person in front of you takes their sweet time sorting through a pile of expired coupons… you might start tapping your foot or sighing. Non-verbal ques often reveal more than verbal ones.
Customer service can have a huge impact on a company. At Interstates, great customer service is a must. In my position, I represent Interstates and that is a responsibility I take very seriously. I enjoy working with my customers every day and building lasting relationships.
What do you think excellent customer service looks like?
Fred Finch, Interstates Applications Programmer