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Customer Service Made Easy

Updated on September 28, 2015
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Topnotch customer service means going over and above what is expected of you.

What is Customer Service?

So you're new to customer service or maybe you just need a refresher. Don't worry - this will be easy.

Customer service is simply: "The assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services. (oxforddictionaries.com)

Ask yourself these questions to help you understand:

  • What is my company's product?
  • What services does my organization provide?
  • What is the assistance I must provide to my customer?
  • What advice must I give my customer?

Answering these questions, with the help of your company or organization is crucial to understanding the expectations of your company when it comes to providing topnotch customer service. Topnotch customer service means going over and above what is expected of you. This is the kind of service your customers will remember in relation to your company (and you for that matter). To be known for topnotch customer service will put you a cut above the rest!

Who is your Customer?

The next step in customer service is asking the question, "Who is our customer?"

There may actually be several groups or constituents that are a company/organization's customer. For instance, a human resources office for a college may have listed as customers both faculty, staff and students, as well as outside organizations who might use the facilities.

In many cases, co-workers are also customers such as those who work in hospital food service - the staff may be feeding patients, the general public and also other employees.

In short, know who your customers are by identifying the different groups your company or organizations serves.

Be Aware of Customer Multi-Generational Differences

According to the US Department of Defense website, "Age is no longer strictly a number, but has become a much more complex factor in managing the generation mix. . . each generation is likely to have different work patterns, skill sets, and life experiences."

Basically, each customer brings with them different life experiences some of these based on age and the generation they were raised in.

From the table below, you can see how these differences work. A person in the "Greatest Generation" for example, may not have the technical knowledge of a person in the "GenX" or "Net Generation". Therefore resolving issues involving anything technology-related may take more time to explain to a "Greatest Generation" customer.

A customer from an older generation may have more patience than a customer from a younger generation. And whereas a "Baby Boomer" may want something done for them, a member of the younger generation may want to be shown how they can do it themselves. This all varies on product and person, but nevertheless, generational differences is something to keep in mind when dealing with customers. (See the table below for more explanation and consider what other circumstances might arise with customers from different generations.)

Good Customer Service - What Does the Customer Want?

According to Andrew Gori, Zendesk.com, "Dimensional Research interviewed more than 1,000 consumers to try to understand what defines a good customer service experience. One of the more surprising results of the survey was the way people defined good customer service experience."

Three of the most important factors from this survey are below and we offer some ideas on how to make sure these factors are met.

Factor
How-to
The problem was resolved quickly.
Be aware of any and all current news and information, problems and promotions within your company. Keep abreast on news about your company. Talk to your supervisors. Know what's going on. Know procedures for helping a customer with specific issues. Know your products, procedures, policies, store, company and/or organization. The more you know, the faster you can help someone.
The customer was treated nice.
In person, watch your body language. Make eye contact (which communicates sincerity). In person, the visual aspect (what someone sees) is most important in body language. On the telephone, a customer cannot see you so tone is most important. Watch your tone - never demean a customer for not knowing something. Ask for their name. Employees only ask for a customer's name 21% of the time - a customer likes to hear his/her name - it shows you are paying attention and personally care.
The problem was resolved with one interaction - the customer was not passed around to multiple people.
Some of this goes back to knowing your position, your company, your products and policies such as above. It is important to remember - don't pass a call on unless you are sure it is to the right department/office/person. Even if you have to call ahead first to find out, it is better than a customer being passed around until they get to the right person who can help them. Reassure the person you will stay with them until the problem is solved. For instance you might say, "I'll stay on the line to make sure you get connected to the right department."

Understand Diversity

We are a very diverse world and so no customer service presentation would be complete without some very important information on diversity. Things to remember are:

•Everyone is unique and no single person is a representative of a certain group. Stereotypes and other racial biases/prejudices are damaging to a business.

.•Discrimination breeds narrow-mindedness, impairs employee morale, strains employee relationships and thus, damages productivity.

•Not to mention, discrimination is illegal!

Source

What to do if a Customer is Upset

According to BusinessWeek.com, there are three things you can do to handle an upset customer. In summary, they are:

1. Turn down the volume of your voice. When the customer raises their voice in anger, lower our voice. Keep a calm even tone. If the customer is in person, make eye contact and nod your head - show them you are listening.

2.Offer information. For example - don't just say, "I'm sorry sir, the website is down," offer a reason why: "I'm sorry sir, the website is down because we are having server issues." If you can give an approximate time when the problem might be resolved, this also helps to calm an angry customer.

3.Finally, brainstorm other options. If you can offer your customer an alternative, please do so. If you need to find a resolution and you are unsure, never hesitate to contact your supervisor and get them involved. It's amazing how people calm down when they feel they are talking to someone in charge.

H.G. Wells once said, "The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow." It is helpful not to take personally the wrath of an angry customer. In most cases, they are just frustrated because they too have a busy life that runs on a tight schedule.

Results of Good Customer Service

According to the Zendesk.com article, the results of good customer service is as follows:

•81% tell their friends and family about it

•45% broadcast their experiences on social media

•35% will write about it on review sites

•52% will continue to do business with you

•24% will choose you over your competitors for up to two years!

It is very evident in today's world of social media, that nothing is a secret. A Facebook friend recently complained about a bad experience she had at a local large department store chain. In less than 24 hours, her post had 22 likes and 13 comments. Her unhappy experience was broadcast far and wide.

The goal of good customer service is to get people to talk about and spread around the news of your great service and thus promote your business.

In the end, good customer service is a cut above normal. It means understanding what customer service is, who your customer is and what your company or organizations expects from you. It requires you to understand your customer from a multi-generational and diverse standpoint.

Good customer service requires a quick and friendly answer and not a lot of passing around of the problem. It requires that an employee listen with kindness and understanding making sure they handle angry customers with calmness and offer solutions.

Finally, the results of offering good customer go a long way as a friend tells a friend tells a friend.

Below, take this training further by answering the discussion questions or test yourself on how much you have learned in this easy lesson on customer service made easy.

For Discussion:
1. It is important to determine what product or service your company or organization provides. The following questions can help in this determination:
What is my company's product?
What service does my organization provide?
What is the assistance I must provide to my customer?
What advice must I give my customer?
2. Who is your customer? Identify the different customer groups associated with your company, business or organization.
3. Determine how generational differences might play a role in dealing with your customers.
4. Under "What does a Customer Want?" identify some more "how to's" for three factors a customer considers most important when it comes to customer service.
5. Discuss the topic of body language and its place in your company or organization's workplace.
6. Determine how understanding diversity is important for your company or organization's individual situation.
7. Discuss some real to life scenarios of angry customers and how the situation was handled or could be handled to defuse the high emotional state of the customer.
8. Discuss why good results are important to a company or organization's success.
For printable version, please contact the author.

Test Yourself

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References

Chief Information Officer. (n.d.). Opportunities and Challenges of a Multi-Generation. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://dodcio.defense.gov/Home/Initiatives/NetGenerationGuide/OpportunitiesandChallengesofaMultiGeneration.aspx

Gallo, C. (2008, June 13). Three Steps to Calming Angry Customers. Bloomberg Business Week - Small Business. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-06-13/three-steps-to-calming-angry-customersbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

Gori, A. (2013, April 9). Does good customer service really matter?. Zendesk Does good customer service really matter Comments. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from http://www.zendesk.com/blog/good-customer-service-defined

Comments

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    • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla J Behr 

      4 years ago from NW PA

      Thanks Teaches! It is important I think that we look at generational differences today. Much appreciate the read.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      This is so well written and lists many important issues with customer service. I think you summed it up for those who provide it as "Basically, each customer brings with them different life experiences some of these based on age and the generation they were raised in." We have to remember it is all about the client!

    • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla J Behr 

      4 years ago from NW PA

      Thanks Denise - it's interesting how different generations interact and important to consider. I'm working on getting video up soon as well. Much appreciate the read. cjbehr

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I, too, appreciate the chart on generational differences. It gave me good information that I may use in the future. I especially like the information on what to do when a customer is angry. I have been dealing with a few of those as of late. Much of the business we receive at our office is from a friend recommending our services to meet a need. Customer service is very important!

    • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla J Behr 

      4 years ago from NW PA

      Thanks Ms. Dora~!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great help to those in customer service. I especially appreciate the chart on generational differences. Voted Up.

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