After more than one bad customer service experience with a company, 80 percent of customers would rather switch to a competitor, according to Zendesk.
It’s likely you can relate. Maybe you went to a highly regarded local restaurant and weren’t greeted for 30 minutes. Or maybe you were at the grocery store, needed help finding something, but were ignored by staff.
Whatever your experience, like many consumers, you probably found yourself elsewhere on your next trip.
That’s why we’re sharing these seven customer service secrets with you. Consider using them as a cheat sheet for your sales team, a training checklist for managers or a to-do list for your current colleagues.
These “secrets” may seem obvious, but when a staffmember is speaking with multiple customers throughout the day, or experiences a busy moment, it’s the little things that can slip through the cracks — and ultimately make all the difference. Focusing in on these seven customer service secrets will help anyone working in a customer-facing role keep a consistent company image, even if (and when) mistakes happen and crises come up.
Seven Customer Service Secrets that Keep Customers Coming Back
- Be Thankful
It’s true that you’re the one providing services to the customer — but whatever they say, be sure to thank them for sharing with you. Thank them for stopping in, for asking a question and for purchasing a product. Bookending your conversation with gratitude will demonstrate your appreciation for the customer’s business.
- Be Proactive
Most customers view companies more favorably if they’re proactive, and customer service is an essential step. Often, customer service is reactive, so being proactive can set you apart from the competition and create a great experience.
If you can anticipate a customer’s needs and respond before they have time to react, you’ll create a much more positive environment. This is especially true when it comes to online communication (e.g. posting updates on social media or notifying customers via email when favored products return in stock). In person, this could be as simple as greeting a customer before they have a question, seeking out waiting customers at a restaurant to let them know the wait has increased or stopping a customer at your grocery store to let them know about a great deal.
- Practice Active Listening
When speaking with customers, nod and smile to show you hear what they’re saying. Repeat their questions back to them to be sure you understand what they’re asking, or paraphrase their concerns to show you understand.
This is particularly important in a call center or online chat, where it can be harder for customers to feel listened to. Do what you can to break down that virtual barrier, such as by using positive, upbeat language or even emojis, if appropriate.
- Ask Questions to Determine Needs
When aiming to sell a product, you must know exactly what customers need and want. 79% of customers expect personalized service — but if you don’t know what a customer wants, how can you personalize their experience?
Asking a few standard questions related to their product or service search is a simple way to understand the surface-level needs of the customer. If this is a prior customer, hopefully, someone will already know their needs and have these tracked, so the customer doesn’t feel they’re repeating themselves. Nowadays, much of that info is captured online, so if you’re communicating digitally, your company may have that data right at your fingertips — be sure to take advantage!
- Offer Solutions to Meet Those Needs
Once you’ve discovered what the customer needs, you’ll have a jumping-off point to offer a solution.
Maybe they’re shopping for a pair of shoes and you know they want something versatile for hiking and travel — you can highlight the features of the shoes you sell that best align with their needs.
Maybe a customer complained about the long wait they just experienced before being seated. Can you offer a free dessert or coupon for a return visit?
No matter the industry you’re in, you can hopefully provide the product, service or solution that meets that customer’s needs, and convince them why working with your company is the best solution for them, both now and in the future.
- Ask the Customer What Questions They Have
In order to make a sale, you must ensure you’ve addressed all of a customer’s questions. Don’t end the conversation too quickly; instead, keep asking if they have questions until you’re confident you’ve answered them all. This can seem tedious, but it makes all the difference.
- Stay Friendly and Helpful
Crises will happen. A customer will experience a longer wait than usual. An item will go out of stock. No matter the situation, focus on putting yourself in that customer’s shoes — how would you want to be treated in that situation? Thinking of it this way will help you stay positive, friendly and helpful, ultimately preventing a crisis from escalating.
If you’re tired, worn out or have answered a question ten other times that day, it can be easy to check out or become less-than-friendly — we’ve all felt this. If possible, switch off with another staff member for a few minutes to take time to refocus or calm your mind. If this isn’t possible, refocus on the goal — seeing the customer as a human just like you who hasn’t asked that question before. Treat their question like it’s the first time you’re answering it. Staying fresh, focused and positive is essential when aiming to stave off stress and provide a great customer experience.
Looking to measure your team’s performance on these and other standards?
Ask about the Shoppers’ View scorecard, which is customizable to evaluate your team on a variety of customer service standards (and secrets).
If you value customer service, and if you are looking to move the needle on your team’s performance, working with Shoppers’ View is the solution. Reach out to book a 1-on-1 consultation today.