Reinforcing the Customer Service Mindset

While we can all agree on the importance of customer service, simply setting policies won’t cut. After you’ve decided on specific customer service policy, it’s critical to reinforce your commitment to always serving your customers well. Here are five tips on how to get it done:

Get to know your customers and stay familiar. Even in the best customer relationships, there’s always something more you can learn. You must strike a careful balance, but targeted surveys and well-intentioned follow-up calls are invaluable tools in understanding your customers and their habits. Divide them up into segments who share common traits. Products and services that truly fit customer needs are the surest path to loyalty and profitability.

Consistency matters. In customer service, people expect and deserve an attentive, focused service experience. Make sure your customer service team has access to tools that will help them succeed, and train them vigorously. And always be prepared. Volume spikes related to new product launches and seasonality are a given. Be ready to scale hiring and training well in advance.

Recognize and reward. It’s one thing to espouse customer service philosophies, and another to cultivate a rich environment for customer service agents to thrive in. Skills are required and training is provided; but success must be recognized. Aside from sales and performance bonuses, soft recognition programs that call out individual acts of awesomeness go a long way toward showing your agents that you’re paying attention.

Empower your agents in their daily work. While every customer service department has standards and protocols, strict adherence denies customer service agents the latitude to personalize the service experience. Worse, it leads to your customers hearing things like, “I’m sorry I can’t do more. This is our policy.” Giving agents the power to make decisions and advocate for the customer creates a more rewarding job as well as an outstanding customer experience.

Communicate effectively. As in the “it’s our policy” example used above, there are many things your customers NEVER want to hear. “I’m sorry,” is another example. When companies say this to me, what I hear is, “Bummer, dude. But…I have no intention of helping you.” If you can’t give a customer what they want, offer alternatives, connect them to someone in the company who can help. And this doesn’t mean you should give them the telephone number of another department. Give them a name, warm transfer the call if possible, let them know you’re actually interested in helping. Otherwise, you may soon hear your customers saying, “Bummer, dude. But…I have no intention of buying from you anymore.

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