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5 Irrefutable Customer Service Truths

By: Teresa Allen

 

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Here are what I personally believe are 5 of the most critical success factors in any customer service organization.

1. Train customer service skills and hire customer service attitudes
Can you train anyone to be a great customer service representative or a great salesperson? This is a question I am asked rather frequently. While I am pretty proud of my training abilities, I would never go so far as to give an unequivocal YES to either of these. Why? A good-to-great trainer can and should be able to teach skills that bring measurable improvement to your customer service and sales efforts. This is not, however, saying that all people can be brought to the same level of greatness.
There are certain qualities that are somewhat innate to an individual that improve performance in these areas. An example? If you are going to work in customer service you probably should like and respect people. That may seem obvious, but we all have run into people on the other side of the counter that would seem to have a bit of contempt for fellow human beings. Hiring is thus a critical success factor. The first seconds of an interview may tell more about a person’s ability to perform in a customer service setting than their entire resume. Don’t ignore the likeability factor.
2. The customer doesn’t have to do anything—in particular, buy something from you.
There are a lot of great attitudes in the workforce today. Unfortunately there are also segments of the workforce who feel much is owed to them. They are happy to help the customer as long as the customer says and does the right things at the right time. Unfortunately that is not how the game works. Make sure your staff is clear that in a competitive market, your customer can choose between many alternatives and none of them have to include you.
3. Preventing customer anger beats an apology every time.

Many organizations teach employees how to recover from a service failure. Sadly, far fewer aggressively pursue conflict avoidance strategies. Be obsessed about documenting what goes wrong in the customer interaction chain and take steps to avoid these occurrences. An apology is great but can never totally erase a customer wrong.

4. Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as cattle.

Today’s customer wants their entire experience to be custom tailored to their likes and their life. Know why your customer buys your product, how and where they buy it, and exactly how they plan to use it. Teach this to every person in your organization who has interaction with the customer and your customer service will reach a whole new level. Effective use of social media gives you the opportunity to connect one-on-one with customers today more than ever before at a relatively low cost.

5. Improving your customer service will improve your bottom line results.

Customer service is not a feel-good exercise. A carefully planned customer service strategy will make your customers and staff feel better, but this is not the reason for the endeavor. The reason is that customers spend more with companies providing exceptional service—the latest studies say as much as 9 percent more. If this is true, then your investment in customer service training will have a significant payback. If your sales numbers aren’t what you would like them to be, perhaps you should look at your investment in the service provided to your customers. This investment must not only include customer service training for front-line staff, but also an operational structure that supports their efforts, and a management team that champions the cause.

Published: April 23, 2013
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Teresa Allen

Teresa Allen is a world recognized customer service expert and customer service speaker. She has been included on ​Global Gurus list of the world's top Customer Service Experts for five consecutive years. Teresa is often asked to share strategies for customer service success at meetings held across the globe. Teresa can be reached via her website: www.AllenSpeaks.com or by phone at 850-460-7105 or email: tallen@AllenSpeaks.com

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