Man, I absolutely HATE it when I call customer service and this monotonic robot-like voice answers me almost going “You just made my day worse, how can I help you?”, and then silently sits there punching on that keyboard like he wants to break right through it.
I mean, why don’t you drag me down with you while you’re at it? It’s like talking on a freaking suicide hotline.
What’s worse is that it makes me never want to call back again. What’s the point of service if you’re being mistreated and hated on? You wouldn’t treat a customer that way if the situation was reversed.
Or would you . . . ?
Unfortunately, the fact is that a whole 80% of companies actually believe they deliver good customer service, while only 8% of their customers agree.
A customer won’t always tell you what he feels . . . which honestly sucks. But you bet your ass he will be telling most people in his social circle about what theterrible service he received the other day from X company.
What if you could learn simple tips and tricks to understand what it takes to deliver top notch customer service just by adding a few new habits into your everyday life?
These insanely easy and straightforward points will grant you so you never have to worry about if you’re delivering good service or not – because you alwayswill be.
Read through these points if you’re ready to improve you customer service skills RIGHT AWAY.
1. Knowledge. PREPARE THE BATTLEFIELD!
If there’s one thing you learn at war – it’s that you never go into battle underprepared and underfinanced. When you’re faced with a gun pointed at your face, you better know what to do.
I once placed an order of a Samsung ’37 inch TV over the telephone and couldn’t wait to get it delivered. Just as I was about to hang up the phone call, I remembered a very small detail that I needed to ask about.
“Can this TV properly read every video file and its subtitles?”
See, I absolutely LOVE watching films, so it was absolutely crucial for me that I could plug in any kind of video file and it would read it without complications.
You know what the man said?
“I don’t know, let me check with my colleague.”
You know what the colleagues said?
“I don’t know, let me check with the boss.”
You know what the boss said . . . ? You guessed it.
Eventually the man just told me they would ship me a Panasonic ’37 inch for the same price and dimensions, knowing that this one would read the files because one of the employees had the same brand at home in his living room.
Really . . . ?
I waited 20 minutes to get an answer to a simple question, and I ended up ordering an entirely different kind of TV?
Customer service cannot exist without basic preparation and knowledge in the core fundamentals of the company and its product.
You know from personal experience that it’s a fact your patience with customer service quickly runs out when the person on the other line drags out the phone call and obviously doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.
So start digging deeper and deeper into the product you’re working with by asking yourself every possible question that you would personally ask if you were the customer.
LOAD YOUR GUNS and prepare yourself. The battlefield is right ahead . . .
2. Listening. Ssshh, Did You Hear That?
Now that you wear a blast suit that will cover you from explosions and you can handle five different kinds of artillery all at once – let the first customer of the day make his move.
Remember those times in High School when you’re with a group of friends and you try to say something, only to slowly realize nobody is really listening?
Your sentence gradually died out and you put your head down in shame.
Sucks, doesn’t it? Of course it does, otherwise you wouldn’t have remembered it all these years.
I cannot stress enough the importance (and benefits) of listening closely to what each customer has to say.
In your customer’s words, you will essentially hear:
•How he experiences the product and its functions.
•The frequent problems that occur while using the product.
•What can be better in the next patch/upgrade/model.
It’s kind of like a heaven for improvement-seeking people, isn’t it?
And yet, a lot of people will simply treat the customer as a “job that needs to be done ASAP and then NEXT”. Don’t be one of those people.
Research has shown that there can be as much as a 10% increase in sales if one carefully listens and reflects on the feedback given by the customer.
So change your mindset right away and recognize that your customer is a gold-mine of feedback that will tell you exactly what you need to hear to make the product better, faster, stronger.
This all will enable you to do the very next important point . . .
3. Expediency. Faster Than The Speed of Light!
You’re gonna think I’m making this one up, but I promise you it’s all 100% true.
I have a dual citizenship, Bosnia and Sweden. A few years back, it was time for me to renew my Swedish passport during my stay in Bosnia, so I did.
When I received my new passport, I was all jolly and happy and started preparing my trip back to Sweden.
Not only until after booking the tickets did I realize something was off about my height in the documents.
See, I’m 185cm tall but the passport said I was 165 cm! That’s a staggering 20 cm shorter!
So I called in and told them they made a mistake and should get it corrected ASAP because I had already booked tickets for my trip.
All the guy said was “Hold please.”
So I waited. And waited. And waited.
The only consolation I had was the lounge music playing through the speakers. I had already had a pretty rough and tiring day, so the music was keeping me very calm. I decided to lie down on the couch while waiting.
Problem was, I could barely keep my eyes open.
So I fell asleep with the phone tightly pressed against my ear.
Fortunately, I woke up a minute later by the sounds of me snoring. Luckily the lounge music was still playing, meaning I hadn’t made a fool out of myself.
I checked the time and noticed something peculiar . . . I had in fact not been passed out for a minute or two.
I had been sleeping for AN HOUR AND A HALF.
I couldn’t decide what was worse: The fact that I had actually slept for that long – or the fact that I was STILL ON HOLD.
. . . A few seconds later I hear a familiar voice.
“Sorry if you waited a while. It’s all been handled and your new passport can be picked up in seven business days at the Swedish Embassy.”
. . . IF I WAITED A WHILE? I could have gone to the cinema and seen a whole film by now!
Unfortunately, I had no right to complain. After all, I was sleeping all throughout it.
Slow customer service absolutely kills your business. It’s the result of being disorganized and not knowing how react in particular situations (remember the battlefield)?
If you have prepared properly and you know what the customer wants from you – there is absolutely no excuse to not work fast!
Take action right away by organizing yourself according to the most frequently asked questions and issues that a customer might have – and have it all in front of you ready to be used!
Which means, when the time comes – you’ll be able to handle most situations quickly and efficiently without risking your customer hanging up on you . . . or falling asleep.
Good thing is, there is more than one way to keep your customer awake and alert.
4. Positivity. “Shine Bright Like a Diamond . . .”
Remember your faaaavorite teacher in the whole world? What stood out about him in comparison to the other dull and boring teachers?
He seemed so incredibly funny, spontaneous and energetic.
. . . But most importantly, he pumped the class with POSITIVE ENERGY. In his presence, every student forgot they were sitting in a dull classroom.
THIS is the way you want your customer to feel like.
It has been proven time and time again that . . .
•Positive work environments outperform negative work environments.
•Positive and optimistic sales people sell much more than pessimistic ones.
So start selling more by framing everything positively.
Negative: “We can’t really ship and deliver the product faster than at least 30 days.”
Positive: “We’ll place the order right away and have it delivered as soon as possible. Do check the website to always keep track of how far along the order has gotten!”
Start right away by considering the most common forms of questions you might be dealing with and instantly write down how you can frame the “can’t”, “won’t”, “do not” into “can”, “will” and “do”!
5. Don’t Be Active, Be PROACTIVE.
I remember the first time I fell in love in High School. It was with this beautiful redhead who I had an absolutely great time with and she was wonderful.
The point is, she didn’t want me back. I suffered and I suffered, until I couldn’t take it anymore and did the only thing that was left for me to do:
I went to the school counsellor to seek help.
That one conversation we had was all I needed. And I remember it to this day. As soon as I walked in and sat down, he said:
“You’re in love, aren’t you?”
My mind froze. He then went on to talk about the first time he got his heart broken, what he did about it and how he handled it, how he learned to recognize similar situations in the future and how eventually he found what he was looking for.
I had never been so pleased hearing another person solving my problems without me having to open my mouth besides when directly been asked a question.
Strange example you say? Well then ask yourself this:
How great would it be to implement a similar concept to customer service? Solving a problem before it occurs? Effortlessly solving existing issues? Making the customer go “Oh . . . So that’s it I guess?” before even calling in.
The key is to be proactive.
By asking a specific set of questions, you can give off the impression that you know more about your customer’s problems than he does and to prevent them before they even happen.
This will save you a lot of time and energy having to sit there listening to him talk talk talk, while you troubleshoot troubleshoot troubleshoot. What if the problem simply never happens?
This becomes the silver lining between having good customer service versus having an outstanding one!
Take out a pen and paper and start writing these simple ideas down!
1) ASK for feedback! Host a survey, voting poll or create a feedback focused e-mail adress for your customers to use. Ask common questions about what they experience the products like, what they feel about the staff, what they think can be improved, etc.
2) Announce mistakes before customers find out. Recognize what might become a potential problem in the product and announce it online. Get the customer to know that you know of the problem and you’ve detected it before they have.
3) REWARD your customers for being loyal and honest with you. Offer discounts, special prizes and offers. Remember, you want to hear what they have to say.
The point of all this is to make you step back a bit and go “I like my customer service, but can I do MORE?”.
Being knowledgeable, properly listening to your customer, working quickly and efficiently, being relentlessly positive and learning to act proactively are key traits of your customer service that will serve as the fuel that launches your rocket into the sky and explodes into a beautiful frenzy of success and revenue for your company (I hope you’ve gotten used to my ridiculous analogies by now).
What are your thoughts on all of this by the way? Got any personal crazy experiences to contribute with?
P.S: Tune in the next time when we talk about how to prepare a simple, smooth and kick-ass knowledge base for your company using tools available right within your reach.