8 Ways To Improve Your Customer Service
Whatever your set up, whether that’s being a manager of a call centre, the head of a support desk team, or you’re just looking to improve customer experience company-wide, it’s important you’re doing everything you can to make your service as good as it can be.
It’s critical, because if you’re not continually investigating ways to improve, your customer relationships will stagnate and so will your business.
Subsequently any tips you can incorporate into your business to better serve customers, will be extremely valuable.
Tips to help improve your customer service
Here’s some ideas to help boost your customer service performance.
1. Strengthen your customer service skills
It might sound obvious, but your starting point should be to look at your customer service skills and how you can improve them.
So, what skills should you be looking to develop in your customer facing teams?
The ability to see things from your customers' perspective
Every customer is different. While some will be friendly, chatty and full of questions, others may be irritated and annoyed. So, you need to develop the ability to be patient and empathetic, if you’re to be able to handle any scenario and deliver a consistent level of service every time.
The ability to communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing, is essential in any customer facing role, especially if you are speaking to someone who has a different native language.
Your answers to customer questions should always be clear, concise and in your natural tone of voice. Customers want an explanation, but they often don’t need to know all the details. They just want their issue resolved as quickly as possible.
It’s always good practice to end each conversation by asking your customer if there is anything else you can do for them, that way you’ll know you’ve done everything you possibly can to resolve their issue.
We’ve already touched on this a little bit, in terms of being able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. However, adaptability is also about being able to handle any surprises that might come your way, with the ability to sense your customers mood and adapt to that accordingly, so you can still deliver a strong service.
For anyone working in a customer facing role, they will be familiar with the sentiment ‘the customer is always right’.
While in some situations this may not always be the case, the ability to swallow one’s pride and accept blame or negative feedback is definitely important for anyone working in this type of role.
Subsequently, irrespective of whether your team is working directly with customers or managing their feedback on social media, they’ve always got to keep their customers satisfaction in mind.
2. Practice active listening
When it comes to customer service, it’s important to remember that behind every call or live chat interaction there’s a real human being with a question or concern that needs to be answered. And that person needs to feel properly heard, understood and served.
The ability to develop active listening skills is key to meeting this need and can be strengthened by getting staff to practice these skills regularly with their co-workers and family.
The process of active listening itself can be broken down into the following.
- Approach every conversation with the goal of learning something and focus on the speaker
- Once a customer has finished speaking, ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what they’re actually saying
- Complete the conversation by quickly summarising what’s been discussed, to ensure you and your customer are on exactly the same page.
Practicing active listening skills can help those in customer facing roles develop outstanding customer service abilities and benefit their relationships outside of the office too.
3. Be positive with your language
Although, it may not seem immediately obvious if you’re on a tense customer call, but using positive language can help to remove some of the stress of that situation
Words can be powerful, and they can help you to create more helpful and trusting relationships with your customers. Verbs in particular should be used positively.
For example, rather than saying “don’t hit the red button” it might be better to say “the green button is the best option.”
Using the future tense is also positive, as it doesn’t dwell on the customer’s past issues. Subsequently, phrases like “Great question, I’ll find that out for you” and “I’d love to understand more about you’ helps keep the customer in the present moment and the situation more positive as you work to resolve their issue.
Remember when you’re speaking to customers to make sure you’re authentic, positive, memorable, and to stay calm and positive, even if the customer is angry.
4. Understand your products and services
Again, it might sound obvious, but if you’re going to give a customer the help they need, you must have a deep knowledge of your products and the way they work.
It’s prudent therefore to ensure that every employee in a customer facing role spends a sufficient amount of their onboarding time with a seasoned product specialist, so they can ask questions and fully understand the essentials of every product. This way, you’ll be able to help customers when they’re troubleshooting issues. You’ll also know about any product tips you can share to make it easier to use.
Besides the products and services you sell, you also need to be fully competent with the systems you use in your job. From your ticketing system to your phone and live chat technology. Whatever you use when interacting with customers, you need to know it inside and out, so you can quickly and effectively handle every customer issue.
5. Be human
We all know the frustration of getting caught up in an automated call routing system and having to answer very specific questions as we wait for the AI to direct us to the department and person we need to speak to. So, when we finally get there, we are crying out for the human touch and a friendly, helpful person who will be able to assist us with whatever worries or issues we have.
In fact, in today’s ever more competitive marketplace, the human touch is really important, as businesses recognise that it’s no longer enough to rely solely on product quality and the right price to stay competitive, with better-informed consumers demanding a quality customer experience too.
Subsequently, more enlightened organisations have realised the value of the human touch to creating a better customer experience and are nurturing a more human centric approach to all their customer touchpoints and support channels, in order to nurture deeper, more meaningful customer connections.
6. Measure and analyse your customer feedback
At this point, it’s important to remind you about the value of measuring your customers’ satisfaction with your customer service. Finding this out is crucial otherwise it’s really difficult to know what you’re doing well, where you need to improve and be able to drive a continual improvement in the quality of customer service you provide.
However, to do this effectively you need to be able to create and issue a range of customer surveys to get feedback from this audience. In addition, you also need to include questions that allow you to measure key aspects of their experience with you, from the effort it took them to interact with you, to how enjoyable they found that experience and your customers likelihood to recommend you to others.
For more details about this including how to calculate the different metrics used to measure customer service performance, why not take a look at our blog ‘How to measure customer service’.
7. Keep your staff engaged
While it’s important to ensure your staff are trained and have the best customer services skills you can give them, you won’t be able to experience the full value of this if your employees are not fully engaged.
It’s worth mentioning that dissatisfied staff are unlikely to come forward with their problems, so consider an employee engagement survey as a more effective way of finding out what your staff are thinking.
From questions about their job and what they think about training and development opportunities, to their views about management and the wider company culture. There’s lots of areas you can explore with your staff engagement questions, to help you identify areas that they’re less happy with and where you can improve to boost workforce engagement.
8. Consider every touchpoint
Finally, it’s worth remembering how a bad customer experience, which can occur at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship with that customer.
Subsequently, in addition to equipping your staff with the right skills, you need to be thinking about all the possible touchpoints a customer will have on their journey with you and ensuring you’re providing the best possible service for each of these. But before you can get to this point you need to have identified, mapped and optimised your key customer touchpoints that are the most crucial to this process.
For more information about this, you might like to read our ‘What are customer touchpoints?’ blog.
We hope you found this blog helpful and will be able to incorporate some of the ideas we’ve discussed to improve your customer service.
Probably one of the most important takeaways is to recognise that if you’re going to improve your customer service, it needs to be an on-going process. And with skills and technologies evolving all the time, you must be willing to keep learning if you’re to keep pace with this. If you can do this, no matter what customer facing operation you’re running, you’ll know you’re doing everything possible to deliver the service your customers deserve.