Customer Service Training Tips

Cashier
Cashier | Source

Good Customer Service

Good customer service isn't easy to come by. Perhaps the person on the other end of the telephone or behind the counter just doesn't do well with people, hasn't been trained, or just plain doesn't care, but, providing quality customer service really isn't always all that difficult. Yes, you will be confronted with the occasional crazy person, angry person, or person who is simply impossible to please but with these tips you can almost be guaranteed success.

Keep in mind that these tips are based on my own experience working in customer service for a little over seven years now. I've worked in the food industry and in retail and trained a few people along the way so that is what these training tips are based on. Every company is different and has different standards so make sure you are familiar with these standards since they may require things that aren't covered here.

1. The Customer is Always Right

Although my tips are not in any particular order, there is a reason why I made this one number one on the list. You've heard it a million times but every business shares this same basic belief in order to be successful. Your goal in customer service is to make the customer happy. Working with the belief that they are always right is one of the most effective ways of doing this, despite the fact that they are likely to be wrong in quite a few cases.

It is much easier, for example, to provide a customer with an alternative to the product they are unsatisfied with, rather than try and talk them into keeping it. If they are coming back to return an item or ask for a drink to be remade or whatever may be the case, the best way to make the customer happy is to do exactly what they are asking for. Remake it for them, give them store credit, allow an exchange, or do whatever else possible to let them leave without feeling cheated and mistreated. Trying to tell them that they need to keep whatever it is they are unhappy with can be insulting or just plain frustrating and lead to an anger-fueled shouting match with the soon-to-be-ex customer.

Telephone
Telephone | Source

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2. You Can't Make Everyone Happy

Going above and beyond for a customer whenever possible is almost always rewarding. Some of the nicer customers will give you a great review or even come back in with a small gift in thanks. Even if the customer isn't particularly welcoming at first, once you do everything you can to help and more, you'd be surprised how nice they get because you just made their day or really helped them out. These instances in particular are what makes customer service really enjoyable.

Of course, there are plenty of instances where a customer is asking you to do something that simply is not in your power range. Perhaps you can't do returns or exchanges. Just make sure to hand the customer over to someone who can as soon as you can. You may not be able to do what they're asking for, but you can certainly work fast to get someone who can.

Customers can be impatient and even waiting for one minute or two on the phone or in line can get them irritated so promptness is essential to their happiness. It's not your fault if the only person who can help you just isn't coming to your rescue right away. The best you can do is just apologize for the inconvenience and continue to do the best you can. Sometimes just letting the customer know (nicely) that you are only doing what's in your power can prevent them from being too frustrated or angry, at least with you.

3. Smile Like You Mean It

Remember that going to work means that you're taking a break from your personal life for a while. This is the major difference between you and the customer. Yes, they may come in with their angry face on straight from the gate or call and scream insults at you for seemingly no reason but, more likely than not, they're just having a bad day. Unfortunately for you, even if your boyfriend broke up with you that morning, you can't treat customers as if they're the reason he left.

Rolling your eyes, crossing your arms, not smiling, and droning on "have a nice day" to each client as if they were the last thing you wanted to say makes customers feel unwelcome. My trick to making myself seem happy is to caffeinate myself or give myself something to look forward to after work, like a night out with friends or a new book. Focus on the now rather than what's going on at work. Keeping yourself upbeat for customers ensures that your day won't get any worse with complaints or anger heaped at you out of their frustration.

Cash Register
Cash Register | Source

4. Develop a Thicker Skin

On the other hand, perhaps what's got you down is the customer and not something at home. Sometimes customers can be cruel, usually because they are angry about something you couldn't help them with. Their response tends to be to lash out with insults or false complaints that may or may not get you in trouble. I've had a customer claim I stole a pack of gum as I bagged it because they couldn't find them when they got home. We eventually found in on the floor on her side of the counter so it must have slipped out of the bag and she never apologized even though before then she was telling management I should be fired.

Another example from my own experience was when a person called me stupid and said I deserved to be stuck in retail since I'd never make it in school. I don't remember why but it was ironic since I had an associates degree at the time and was just about to graduate with my bachelors. This one is definitely one I was able to just laugh off. I even had one gentleman throw money back at me because he claimed I didn't hand him his change back correctly. Yes, he hit me with change and embarrassed me in front of many other customers in line at the time but all I could do was shrug it off and hand it to him the way he wanted.

Unlike these customers, there's no real way for you to lash out most of the time. All you can do is try to kill them with kindness or just plain smile and nod until they finally march out the door. Just remember that as long as you did all you could to help them and maintained as much professionalism as you could muster that there is nothing you did wrong. It may hurt you personally but you just have to learn not to take it too personally and just let it go because in the end that person doesn't know you and won't even remember you the next time they come in.

Also keep in mind that the next person in line has nothing to do with it so don't take out your frustration on any other customers just because you had to deal with a particularly nasty one. In this case, a break and a good rant in the backroom to your coworkers might just help you get back out there and keep up that smile.

How to Get Good Customer Service

One tip on how to get good customer service is to try not to take out your frustration on the person who is supposed to help you out. Although there are plenty of instances where letting out your anger is necessary just to get things done, nicer customers, in most cases, tend to get more. Why? Meaner customers are the type that employees want to get out of the store or just deal with fast. Both because a customer in a bad mood is extra impatient and because this type of person just isn't pleasant to have around. Being patient and understanding may get you more than you bargained for when it comes to being a satisfied customer. It's much more rewarding to go out of one's way for that type of person because you don't feel like your efforts will be wasted.

5. Remember Your Limits

Besides my second tip, there is one other part of customer service that has limitations. In this case, it is for your own personal safety and well being. Never be afraid to inform management, call the police, or do whatever else is necessary to maintain your own safety when a customer goes too far. This seems like a no-brainer but I've worked with people too afraid to do so because they don't want to lose their jobs. Never forget that just because you are in customer service does not mean that you've given up your rights for respect and safety.

In the last example mentioned above, the man who threw the money at me lost his rights to good customer service and nearly lost his right to shop at that store. I found out from coworkers that he did this to every new cashier until they learned how he liked it handed back to him. The next time I saw him, I informed management and they watched as he did it to the newer cashier at the time. They made him pick up his change off of the floor, finally embarrassing him in front of others, and apologize to the cashier. He shopped there again but never did threw back change.

There are times where customers will try and do you emotional or physical harm that goes too far. Another customer enjoyed hitting me in the head with products he just purchased. Tossing them at me or just reaching across to whack me before he walked out he door laughing. When I worked at a coffee place, a coworker get hot coffee thrown back at her because it wasn't made just right and had to leave work due to burns, a situation not at all uncommon in that type of job.

I've had worse insults done to me by customers than anywhere else yet in life. Developing a thick skin can only go so far. When things cross the line, always let management know. I'm lucky to work somewhere with a strict customer service policy that also allows me to refuse service to customers that I simply don't feel comfortable ringing out, like the guy who threw products at me. I can't kick them out, of course, but I can call up someone (I usually call a manager) to ring them out instead. Never be afraid to inform management, call the cops, or do whatever is in your power to remedy the situation when necessary.

Customer Service Skills

Having good customer service skills can take time to hone as you get more comfortable working with people. Just remember these tips above and be patient. As long as you treat other customers the way you would like to be treated you should be just fine. There's nothing more frustrating or just plain rude than horrible customer service. Remember that great customer service can really do a lot more than get sales. You can actually make someone's day tons better, rather than ruin it or make it worse!

© 2012 LisaKoski

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Comments 5 comments

tamarawilhite profile image

tamarawilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

I would add recognizing when someone is having a bad day and lashing out at the first person they see compared to when it is actually your fault.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Good tips here. That is quite an experience having that rude customer in your cash out line. I know in the hospitals we have some incidents of unruly customers and it is NOT fun! In fact, I've been lucky so far, but there have been nurses who have had broken noses or jaws that have gotten hit.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 4 years ago from Scotland

I used to work as a security officer in a holiday camp and sometimes it was difficult to deal with some customers, the problem is that if they are angry they don't want to hear your point of view, they think you are being sarcastic or insolent if you smile at them and I have had a few expletives directed my way, all you can do in such situations is listen to what they have to say appologise even if it wasn't your fault and promise to take immediate action to deal with their complaint.

Patience and a cool head always worked for me.....jimmy


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

I like your suggestion to take care of yourself first and knowing the limits of what your business can supply. Sometimes customers are irate and uncontrollable.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

You are absolutely right on all these points. I'm a part-time shift manager at a local convenience store and you have no idea how mad I would get if I saw my staff's phones out and they're texting away, even in front of the customers! Could you believe that? I always tell my coworkers and my staff that they need to leave their personal lives outside the door and they need to work as if they love their job. Even holding a fake smile enough to make it look real would be just enough to give the right body language to the customers :)

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