Fast Delivery - Poor Service
When is “Speedy" Customer Service - a bad thing?
If you deal with customers, then you know how important it is that your customers are kept happy. Customers are complex creatures, they generally are very specific about what they want and you have to be just as specific in communicating what you can give and how. I find that as we move more into a virtual business world communications are actually deteriorating instead of becoming more proficient.
When a client emails you a message, it is always a good idea to actually read the message before answering the client. A speedy response asking the customer to provide information which they have already sent you; may be getting them out of your hair faster, but trust me – you start poking the bear and you will get a roar!
Customers get annoyed with they are not being heard and with the multiple ways of venting our displease online, this opens up a network opportunity for negative comments on your company to be publicly displayed. As a business owner, you would want to prevent this at all cost. Once the negative image of your business is out on the internet it is there forever and damage control may not repair your business. So the key is “Prevention is Better than Cure!”
Tips to providing Fast AND Excellent Customer Service:
Face to Face Interactions: Listen to the clients and acknowledge what they are saying by displaying Active Listening Skills (see below for more details) and rephrasing their questions (i.e. “Just to confirm, you are looking to purchase only 2 (two) new tyres for your vehicle and they are 14 inch tyres?”).
Over the Phone Interactions: Ensure that you are not being distracted by others and actually listen to what your client is saying. Acknowledge your understanding and confirm that you are understanding your client’s needs by rephrasing the client’s request (see above example).
Electronic Interactions (messaging services / emails / online chats): Read, re-read and read again! It is very easy to misunderstand a client’s request when you skim read their emails and then you quickly copy & paste a generic response which does not address the client’s request. By not taking the time to properly read client emails, you are wasting your time, your client’s time and of course, your company’s time.
When you fail to listen/read your client’s requests, you are failing to provide your clients with the minimum required customer service. You open you and your company up to irate clients, which is never a good thing. Another thing you need to consider next time you decide to quickly “get through” all your emails / calls / client’s in the queue; The most powerful form of marketing is Word of Mouth and since that covers all forms of social media, internet and one on one interactions – I would strongly suggest that your think twice before just ‘Copying and Pasting’ that response.
Big corporations are famous for their generic responses that leave clients irritated and frustrated and the saddest ones are the ones who are not worried about losing clients. Your client’s are your bread and butter, so don’t follow in the footsteps of those large corporations with no Customer Service Skills, instead standout by being better than them. Let your efficiently fast and excellent customer services bring in all those neglected and frustrated clients, so that you can treat them the way that they deserve!
Clients Get Angry When You Don't Listen
Are you listening to me?
What is Active Listening Skills?
To properly understand what Active Listening Skills are, you need to understand what they are NOT. Have you ever been engrossed in a movie on TV and one of your family/friends decides to start a conversation with you, at the most interesting part of the film? So you keep one eye on the screen and listen sparingly to him/her while still following the action on the film. We have all done this, whether it has been swamped at work and your colleague wants to tell you about how she plucked her eyebrows; or even when you are at a party and someone that you’re really didn’t feel like talking too, comes up and strikes a conversation. It is normal to shut off sometimes, but it is not OK to shut off when you are dealing with people that are important to you, such as your clients.
Active listening is an interactive listening technique which involves you actively acknowledging the other persons words. We achieve Active Listing by displaying our responses with body language and verbal confirmations of understanding. Below you will find some signs of Active Listening:
Smile: Do not grin or give a wide big smile displaying all your teeth as this may be seen as threatening or a bit scary for the other person. You want them to feel at ease, not feel like they are on the dinner menu. A small smile can display that you are listening and paying attention to the speaker and by incorporating a slight nod of the head, a smile can be a powerful confirmation that you are listening and understanding what the speaker is saying.
Eye Contact: Please keep in mind that in South Africa we have many different cultures and the duration and directness of eye contact will vary from culture to culture, so do not take offence if some of your client’s do not look you direct in the eyes. Also make a conscious effort to not stare at your clients, as this could be seen as disrespectful to them and intimidating). You need to obtain an even balance between smiling, nodding and eye contact in order to achieve the appropriate amount of eye contact.
Body Posture: An attentive listener will lean slightly towards the speaker, while still maintaining an appropriate, professional distance between yourself and the speaker. Your arms would be relaxed whether you are recording what the speaker is saying or just with general conversation. As soon as you slouch or fold (cross) your arms you are displaying disinterest, anger towards the speaker.
Distractions: This can be tricky especially when you are surrounded by noisy machines or large groups of people, but is it vital that you reframe from playing on your cellphone, looking at your watch or drawing pictures on a piece of paper while the client is talking. Try tuning out all of the background noise and give your client 100% of your attention.
Mirroring: This is exactly as it sounds, you copy any facial expression used by the speaker, which displays that you are understanding and actively listening to what they are saying. For example, if they are angry about something and frowning, you can frown and nod to show that you are listening. It is not appropriate to mirror the speaker’s facial expression throughout the entire conversation as it could be seen as mocking.
Remember, when you listen properly to your client’s needs, you are able to assist them faster and provide excellent customer service.