Excellent customer service is essential to the success of many businesses. As a customer service professional, it’s your responsibility to keep customers informed and engaged with your company’s products or services. Regardless of your experience, you can always work to improve your customer support skills and increase your contribution to your organization and its clients.
In this article, discover how to excel in customer service and how to build a stronger rapport with customers.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the support a company offers to patrons who purchase its products or services. This support can include answering questions, handling customer concerns or complaints, troubleshooting issues, training users and selling new products.
Many customers value the in-person interactions they have with businesses and want to feel that their patronage is appreciated. You can ensure your customers feel valued by providing helpful, comprehensive, and personable service to them.
How to improve your customer service skills
There are many soft skills that enable you to provide quality customer service, including interpersonal skills and communication techniques. Use the following tips to improve your customer service interactions and offer the most supportive experience you can.
1. Know your customers
The first step in customer service is to understand the needs, experiences, and expectations of your customers. You can conduct research that tracks common customer questions and concerns about your company’s products or services, preparing you for many future interactions.
When in person, do not hesitate to ask the customer about their specific desires or requirements for the product. This information can be paired with your in-depth knowledge of the products or services to troubleshoot issues or provide clear answers, allowing you to address the customer confidently and quickly.
2. Show empathy
Empathy occurs when you can fully understand someone else’s perspective. When faced with an unhappy customer, practice empathy by considering the way you would want to be treated if you were in their position. You would likely want to be spoken to with respect and to feel that the other person was truly listening to you. Use empathy to thoroughly resolve customer issues and personalize their experience with your company.
3. Be an active listener
Active listening is a communication skill that involves listening to a speaker to fully understand their message before formulating a response and communicating your engagement. You should use this skill when trying to empathize with customers to ensure you know what their question or concern is before finding a way to help them.
One active listening method you can use is rephrasing a customer’s question or statement to make sure you understand what they need. Another tactic is you use affirming language, such as “I understand completely,” or “I appreciate your situation.”
You can also ask follow-up questions to gain more information to better address the customer’s situation. Active listening enables you to provide the most comprehensive customer service experience possible.
4. Ask if customers understand
Customer service professionals are responsible for making sure customers end their interaction with all of the information they need. Throughout your interactions, you can ask customers if they have any further questions about what you have discussed. If they do not understand your message, you can revise your communication or simplify the message.
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5. Be personable
As a customer service professional, aim to remain approachable, friendly, and engaging so that customers feel comfortable. Speak in a calm, friendly tone and use affirmations to let customers know you understand them. In some interactions, you may also be able to find common ground on shared interests or experiences if relevant to the conversation. These communication methods can help you establish a respectful and amicable rapport.
If you interact with customers in person, use body language such as smiling, eye contact, and open posture to encourage customers to approach you. If you provide customer service over the phone, consider notifying a customer when you are researching their question or taking steps to address their concerns.
6. Provide prompt answers
Another important attribute of excellent customer care is timeliness. Anticipating customer concerns can help you prepare solutions that can be employed quickly. You can also provide prompt answers by consistently updating your knowledge of products or services for quick reference. When interacting with customers, remain focused on their needs to ensure you make the most of their valuable time.
Your company may provide technology to assist you in handling customer interactions, including computers or handheld devices to research information or navigate inventory. Familiarize yourself with these technologies if they’re available, and use them when speaking to customers to quickly address their questions or concerns. These strategies can reduce waiting time and allow you to resolve problems to customer satisfaction.
7. Give accurate answers
You can also update your knowledge of products or services and use company-provided technology to deliver correct answers to customer questions. Accurate information ensures customers fully understand the product or service they use and can use it to its full potential. Providing helpful information also promotes trust, brand loyalty, and continued patronage.
If you are unsure of the best way to handle an issue, reassure the customer that you will look into it and get back to them as soon as possible. This strategy can work in person as well as over the phone and provides you time to research the information they request. You can update the customer as you work to resolve their issue to respect their time. Reassuring customers can demonstrate your dedication to providing them with quality service and accurate information.
8. Follow up
There are many reasons to effectively follow up with customers after an interaction. If you have answered a customer’s general inquiry, you can ask if they have any other questions. Customers who ask for tips on using a product or service might benefit from a follow-up conversation to ensure they are using it to its full potential.
If you conduct customer service through selling products or services, you can reach out to current or potential patrons to make yourself available for further discussion or purchasing. You could also include welcoming gestures such as promotions or discounts to encourage their patronage. Following up can demonstrate that you empathize with the customer’s needs and are dedicated to improving their experience with your company.
9. Invite feedback
Asking customers for feedback shows your dedication to providing quality customer service. You can invite customers to participate in surveys to rate their experience and share ideas for improvement. You can supply invitations at the end of an interaction, both in person or over the phone, or after you complete an interaction. Many companies already have feedback survey systems in place, so familiarize yourself with your company’s system to encourage customers to share their insights.