How many times have you walked away from a support experience and thought “Damn, that rep really had some serious customer service skills.”?
Probably not too many.
We all know that customer service is hard work, especially if you want to make it truly good, but many of us probably forget that like any other job, great support stems from simply developing a certain set of core competences.
Behind the scenes of every customer service interaction, there are a handful of main customer service skills that make the difference between an average support rep, and one who makes customers feel like they’ve experienced truly exceptional customer service.
Therefore, customer service skills training is crucial for any business that works with customers or clients. Not only does each interaction between employee and customer affects the number of customers retained, but representatives with effective customer service skills will feel a greater sense of engagement and commitment to their job. These skills make a positive impression in the minds of current and future customers.
Our customer service skills training provides advanced customer service tips based on the content area or competency you want to improve. Learn about customer service skills, building customer loyalty, creating effective first impressions, managing customer expectations, and more by filtering through our training and development resources.
Relevant Competencies & Skills
Attitude, External Awareness, Customer Experience.
Communication, Influence, Interpersonal Skills, Stress Management, Adaptability.
Accountability, Leadership, Results Oriented, Conflict Resolution, Stress Management, Customer Acquisition.
Professionalism, Creative Thinking, Change Management, Decision Making, Initiative.
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Before we get started, we need to think about what is a customer? What customer service is all about? We also need to think about whom in our organization provides customer service. The simple answer to that question is: everyone.
A customer is, in this day and age, anyone who uses a service. Although this has its logical extremes – you will find few people who are overjoyed by the idea of being a customer to a doctor, or their children a customer of their school.
Therefore everyone who relies on you to do a job that will have an effect on their life, their job, or their use of a product is technically one of your customers. Above and beyond that there are different echelons of customers – internal and external, corporate and personal, regular and occasional.
These are always people that you will be well-advised to keep happy, so customer service is an important – indispensable, one might say – element of any job in which you have customers.
If, for example, you work in one branch of a department store, and receive a call from someone working in a sister branch of the same store wondering if you have in stock a particular item – one which their branch has run out of, for example, then that individual technically, and temporarily, becomes a customer to you.
They want something and are hoping that you can deliver it. To do your job the way one would hope, you will go to whatever lengths are possible in order to provide the best service possible to whoever needs it from you.
Of course, the most regular customers tend to be the external customers who provide the "bread and butter" of any business, the regular day-to-day custom that drives the profits and income of a company. It is also these customers who will, by word of mouth and other means bring your business to the attention of other potential customers.
Their role in a business’s success is essential, and these customers should be the immediate concern of any business. Ensuring that these customers are satisfied will make the difference between success and failure for any company.
External customers are anyone outside your company that you interact with — not just the people who buy goods or services from you. External customers are what can be considered ‘traditional’ customers:
Internal customers include anyone in your organization who relies on you for services, resources, or information.
Providing excellent customer service to internal customers sets a positive tone for all personal interactions. If internal customers receive excellent customer service every day, they will consider this the norm.
If they interact with external customers, they are likely to treat those customers the way they have been treated. Excellent customer service, like most types of human behavior, is contagious.
The quality of service you provide to internal customers ultimately affects the quality of service your company provides to external customers. Even if you never interact with someone outside your company, you are still engaged in customer service. An internal customer may look for any of the following:
Internal customers are the people in our own organization who are dependent on us for without whom they cannot perform their tasks to maximum efficiency, and this has either a direct or an indirect effect on the external customer.
Customer service is one of the true business essentials. Everyone remembers the bad customer service they have had, and most will also remember instances of good customer service. The importance of customer service is recognized by all successful businesses, because it is possibly the number one element in customer retention.
If you want to ensure that you get repeat business, looking out for the wishes and needs of your customer base is essential. How you go about providing it is up to you, but there are certain elements which remain the same whatever the nature of your business. These are the principles of good customer service.
Whenever a customer makes a purchase, they will have priorities as to what makes their experience a positive one. Obviously the first priority is that they get whatever they have purchased from the point of purchase to their home. If it is a small item that they can take with them, the business’s responsibility is to see to it that the item is packaged and presented in a manageable, portable fashion with a minimum of waiting.
However, customer service begins before this. When a customer enters the store or the showroom to find what they are looking for, they may require the attention of staff to enable them to find it. Some customers just want to browse. Staff is required to ascertain what a customer wants how they want to go about it and whether they will need any help.
Customer service can be defined as any action you take to ensure that a customer is pleased with the transaction on a long-term basis. This includes “after sales service”, which entails ensuring that the customer leaves the point of sale with the item that they were looking for, within the period of time that they intended to spend sourcing it, and then has no problems using it.
It is easy enough to ensure a customer goes away from the point of sale with the item they had come to purchase. Ensuring that they are happy going forward may require more care and attention, and this is where after-sales service needs to be at its highest level. Pre-sales, after sales and point-of-sale service are all essential elements of customer service.
Given the importance of customer service, it will inevitably be the case that any company will have to place a strong focus on ensuring that the people within the business do their jobs as required. Any commercial enterprise may have several layers of staff responsibility, and the jobs done by these members may vary considerably.
What they all have in common is their importance to a business lies in their ability to do what is required, and how it should be done. Just about anyone can get one of these elements right, and most will be able to do two. Customer service providers have to get all three.
In any business, a customer service provider is someone whose performance of their role is important to the overall result for the customer. Most customers will not care much for what happens behind the scenes in a company, so long as they are able to count on their needs being fulfilled. It is therefore the focus of every member of staff to see to it that their job is done without it being necessary for urgent action to be taken.
The element of customer service that most customers will notice in any given transaction is that which happens in full view – how the sales people speak to them and how their enquiry is dealt with. But to get to that point, a number of other things also need to be done correctly.
It could be argued that every member of staff within an organization has an element of customer service provision within their responsibilities. It may be something as simple as ensuring that stock is placed where it needs to be placed.
It may be something that appears to be entirely divorced from the sales service, such as the work of a security guard who ensures that the store is secure at all times so that everything runs smoothly.
One way or another, all of these will impact on the customer experience, and getting it wrong will mean that a company is failing to provide customer service at the level that is expected of them.
Dave was applying for a customer service job at a paper selling company. Before he sent in his application, there was a short test. Dave was able to easily recall the information on the types of customers. The internal ones that are buyers within the company, and the external ones that make up the day to day sales of the company.
Dave was accepted into the job, and used his skills in customer service to help promote business within the company. He was always kind and honest when helping a customer, and did so in the most efficient way possible. This made it very clear that Dave did indeed deserve the job.
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