Unless your company is a powerhouse, or the first in its field, you need more than a flawless product to be successful. The better half of any business is customer service. And we’re not just talking good customer service, we’re talking great customer service.
A prime example of a company that has a top-tier customer service reputation is L.L. Bean. Can you remember hearing anyone say they’ve had a bad experience with L.L. Bean? Neither can we. L.L. Bean earned their reputation by putting their customers first. Just simply mentioning their name gives you a good feeling, right? That’s because they’ve been able to transform great customer service into memorable customer experiences.
Very few businesses are able to navigate through the ever changing world of social media, the constant connectivity with customers, and the “customer is always right” mentality without getting burned. Herein lies the challenge. Communication strategies will differ depending on the vehicle being used. But, no matter where the communication is happening, one goal must stay in-tact: treat your customer with positivity, patience, and empathy.
So, we often ask ourselves, what does great customer service really mean and how do we achieve it? Some define great customer service as a company who is willing to give their customers anything and everything that they want. Some say that great customer service is simply solving problems and offering solutions in a quick, positive manner. They’ve got the positive thing right! Others say that great customer service is overall politeness from those who represent the company.
None of these definitions are wrong. The fact of the matter is “great” customer service is subjective. Each person, or customer, you speak with will have different values and opinions. Again, the aim is to meet each one of those unique customer challenges with patience, positivity, and empathy. Now, let’s dive into what we believe makes for great customer service:
Customer Service Skill #1: Patience-
Customer service is not an easy job and anyone that tells you it is has never worked in customer service. There will be times when the customer will be angry with you. Sometimes, they will need a lengthy explanation to better understand your solution. And, sometimes, they will be just plain mean. If a customer like this crops up, all you can do is take a deep breath, keep your cool, and hope for the best. In this scenario, the “best” case outcome is that you reach a solution that makes both of you happy. Patience will not only help you deliver a better service, but it will make it easier to do the hard work that customer service asks of you.
Customer Service Skill #2: Positivity-
When we say “positivity,” we are referring to the language you should use while communicating with your customers. Positivity can go a very long way in customer service. You never know who you’re going to speak with, so always greet them with a positive attitude.
To understand just how powerful language can be, here are a few examples of what not to say, and why:
“Unfortunately” Translation: I’m about to tell you bad news.
“As you know” Translation: Basically, I’m putting you in your place and confirming your worst fears in the situation.
“I’m afraid that” Translation: (This is a lot like “as you know”) We can’t.
Try your best to avoid using words like “but,” and “actually,” when speaking with your customers, those words carry negative tones.
Customer Service Skill #3: Empathy-
Empathy may be the single most important skill to have when working in customer service. In order for you to help your customers stay happy, it’s important for your business to understand what happiness means to your customer. In order to do this, you must step into their shoes, see the situation through their eyes, and then proceed. That is empathy.
Not everyone will agree with what makes customer service “great,” and not everyone is going to be happy with your attempts to be a “great” customer service representative. Even if you follow all that we have talked about thus far, what makes a company’s customer service “great” is completely subjective. The best advice we can give is to approach every situation with patience, positivity, and empathy, and you’ll find your way through the mud. Be sure to do everything in your power to keep your customers informed, never hold them back, and above all else, keep them happy. If your company is responsive, friendly, and provides timely and relevant information, you will build a long lasting reputation of great customer service.