Good Customer Service Practices
Customer service is not a department, it's an attitude!.............Unknown
Why customer service?
The importance of the customer has only grown over the ages since trade and barter began centuries ago. With the fast paced competition, companies and organizations have had to adapt to not only the production side of business but also witnessed a rise in ‘customer service’ operations. Apart from the core responsibility of meeting customer demands, all service and product companies had to set up a customer service group to take care of pre sales and post sales customer satisfaction. Hence dedicated folks taking queries from prospective and current customers in various forms such as phone, email, post mail was the new era ushered in during the 1990s. This saw the boom of call centres and contact centres in India, Philippines and other south east asian countries.
It became a revolution of sorts and these countries saw many companies set up outsourced call centres by big corporate and manufacturers from around the world and especially US. They hired folks and trained them on ‘customer service practices’. With dedicated trainers for language and accent training in English, they also taught a bunch of young college graduates how to respond appropriately to customer queries via phone or email. This included inbound as well as outbound customer calls. So what was deemed as ‘good customer service’?
Good customer service practices
Firstly, they were taught to be polite and courteous and receive the call with standard opening lines and not by a simple ‘hello’. A standard practice was established similarly for closing calls and statements made when putting the customer on hold. These are good manner if you may call them that, unless they are followed blindly without gauging the situation or getting the pulse of the customer’s situation. For example, if you have a customer call in and sound extremely agitated or irate, you shouldn’t be asking “how’s your day going?. Wrong question! There is no need for small talk or polite conversation with an irate customer!
Secondly, the teams were taught to never argue with the customer. The customer may or may not be right, but good customer service teaches you to handle the customer in such a way that you can convince him that you will do whatever it takes to get things right. You assure, you provide meaningful options, but you don’t lose your cool and snap at a customer ever!
Never lie to customers..
If the company or department is at fault, you own up, Good customer service folks never lie and always own up if things got messed up. If a delivery is late or the repair order got missed, it is better to state as such and recommend corrective action. Providing false information put the credibility of the company at stake.
Never make false promises
As a customer service agent, you should ensure that you are fully aware of the options available to you to provide the customer. Only share information which you are confident of and can deliver on. The worse thing is to make promises you cannot live up to, such as impossible turn -around times or freebies you are not authorised to give to the customers. Work within established limits and make the customer understand the same if he asks for more.
Always get back to the customer..
If you tell a customer that you will get back with the required information, make sure you do that! Never keep a customer waiting. Many companies lose good customers due to this simple inability to meet standards of responding back. On the same lines, you never, ever hang up on a customer! Face the music or suggest speaking to the manager if you think you cannot handle the customer.
Make your customers smile..
Wherever possible, go the extra mile for your customer. Make it a customer delight! One happy customer is going to talk about his great experience with your company and you are bound to add more customers to your base. But also remember one unhappy customer can go and dent all the good reputation a company has built over a long period of time.
Give the chance to provide feedback on your customer service!
Have channels for customers to provide feedback on good customer service. This way you can measure how well you are doing at the customer service group. There will be suggestions to improve and there might be a lot of unknown praise. It is always a good idea to have a number or email for customers to provide feedback.
Most customer service agents are taught to never let their personal mood affect the way they treat their customers. This is a tough one. It is human nature to be affected with what happens around you. But as far as possible, a bad mood should be brushed aside once you enter your work area in a customer service group.
While it is good to build a healthy rapport with customers, don’t get over friendly or ask personal questions. Be professional!
Customer is King and never forget that.
You are because of your customers- business runs because of the invoices paid by our customers.