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- Customer Service & Satisfaction
Is Your Business Providing Good Customer Service?
Why is it important?
I do not know about you, but good customer service, in this day and age, is very hard to come by especially in New York!
However, it does still exist. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. I have been an Assistant Department Manager, for a major department store, as well as a customer. This gives me great insight on why I believe customer service is vital for both the customer and the professional.
Do I really have to ask this? Well, here goes. Why should good customer service always exist? Because it is designed to enhance and retain a high level of customer satisfaction. When a customer is satisfied to a degree that they are comfortable with not only your sales skills, but your overall presentation skills, you have a customer for life. And having a customer means both parties win. As a customer you win a highly skilled professional that is ready, willing and able to meet their expectations and makes the customer feel uniquely special at the same time. As a result, the customer is completely satisfied with both the service and or product which most likely will end up as repeat sales.
As the professional, you gain a customer that will think of you to assist, purchase and most importantly refer you to their friends, family and business partners. This level of high customer service will result in a significant and profitable client base for future potential sales.
Good Service=Good Revenue
Types of Customer Services
Customer service is provided in several different ways. One of the ways, and I believe, the most important one, is live help. Live help is the epitome of good customer service because there is an expectation from the customer that they will indeed receive a high level of service from the associate at all times.
The human-to-human contact is what creates the connection long term and this is what live help strives for. Organizations that provide this type of human contact to its clients have an obligation to make this an integral part of their overall customer value mission.
Online and, or, Internet service is categorized as self-service. This is a form of automated service mostly visible on Internet sites. With self-service there has been an increasing challenge to meet, maintain and improve how customer representatives enhance the personal experiences of customers while still facilitating the many efficiencies that online technologies provide for both the customer and the organization.
Indicators of Good Customer Service
Working as a customer service professional, people skills are not only vital, but mandatory at all times.
A customer develops a very important skill of their own---their ability to remember you even if you do not remember them. Their ability to memorize an incident, either positive or negative, is instrumental in determining whether the customer will come back to buy from you or ask for your Manager to complain. A customer's trust is nothing to be taken lightly. Trust is earned. Trust keeps the customer coming. Trust can be destroyed, all at once, by either one major service problem, or, undermined by a series of incompetency.
Some may agree and some may not, but the customer is always right, right? Well, I say the customer is rightfully entitled to feel good when he or she is ready to purchase a product or service. The "Feel Good" factor is not only to ensure the customer has a good experience, but to provide them with an experience that goes above and beyond their expectations; which eventually brings them back to you.
There are a few indicators that are essential to providing the customer with an experience that exceeds their expectations:
- Know the product/product knowledge: The more I knew what I was talking about, the more the customer became my client in the long run. The idea here is to be the knowledge expert. However, one of the most basic skills, I learned to provide is help; with that comes humility. In other words, it is OK to say, "I am sorry, but I am not familiar with that product or service, but I will be more than happy to find out for you and possibly assist you with that as well. Let me find someone that can further assist you with that." Rest assured your customer will remain happy and will be receptive to you. Most importantly, you have now learned another product or service that you can build your client base with. It's a win-win for all.
- Body Language/communication styles: You hear it over and over again in every day life, "communication is key." The way our bodies send signals and messages to one another is another key aspect of providing exceptional customer service. Ask yourself, "Am I standing with my arms crossed when I speak to my customer? Am I making eye contact? Am I smiling? Am I really listening to my customer's needs; as I stand or sit with them? Am I overly animated and coming off insincere? Artificial? Pushy? Disinterested? This and other physical and verbal messages, you convey, is what will determine the quality of the relationship, short-term and potentially long-term.
- Anticipate customer needs: Not only is product/service knowledge and body language essential, but anticipating the needs of the customer seals the deal. In other words, truly learning how and what motivates your customer to purchase a product and, or, service allows you to expand your ability to provide the best customer service. The customer wants the attention he or she deserves. They want to feel they are being listened to and pampered all at the same time. And a great way to do that is by preparing yourself with research based on what your customer is telling you they enjoy, dislike and prefer.
- Make a real connection with your customer: This ensures that they think of you first when servicing their needs.
Customer disputes happen--be prepared!
I will never forget the day I was called to resolve a customer dispute. I was ready--mentally and emotionally to deal with the situation. The customer was a new Mom. She came to the store with her new infant, the Nanny, her husband and the dog. The dog decided to take a trip to the fitting room and try on some clothes. The nanny had the wailing infant in her arms. The husband was bored, tired and wanting to leave, and the customer, well, let's just say she wanted her way regardless of any store policy, procedure or protocol. Notice that I assessed the situation in a matter of minutes and knew that this was going to be a challenge. An interesting one nonetheless, but a challenge regardless.
Despite the obstacles, I listened to the customer and offered my most sincerest apologies about the initial wait in resolving her issue. She had no receipt for the items she was returning; they were also unpacked and in a huge shopping bag. They were all gifts she had received for her newborn that she was not happy with and wanted to return them for cash! At that time, the store policy was "no receipt--no cash, only store credit!" I, very calmly and softly, referred to this policy and indicated that we would be more than happy to return any and all items sold at the store and provide an instant store credit with the current prices. At that time, most of the items were ringing up on sale. Although she was not too happy about the prices the items were scanning at, she took the deal! The entire time she was quite disgruntled, fussy and negative, but as I remained calm, cool and collected, she too began to work with me to resolve the issue.
As a customer service professional, the more you de-escalate a situation, the more you increase your own ability to excel in conflict resolution. As a result, not only is it crucial in retail or any other commercial industry, but in every day life as well.
A Skill for life
Providing outstanding customer service is a skill that will last you a lifetime. Not only will it be useful in retail or commercial industries, but in life. We are all customers at some point. We all interact with people on a regular basis and having the right amount of these skills is vital in accomplishing all sorts of short and long term goals.
Good customer service is a skill that keeps on giving. It fulfills the customers needs, wants and desires and at the same time enhances the professionals ability to attain higher standards as a representative of excelling in that skill. This combination of high level skills partnered with a need to expand his or her client base creates the best customer service platform.
This skill can be applied to every day life in a professional and expert form that will enrich the lives of all.
Ask a good customer service representative: "Thank you for reading and I hope to see you on my hub page again."