Career Development

How to Provide Excellent Customer Service

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Customer service is a cumulative customer buying experience centered on communication and integrity. Excellent customer service accounts for a customer’s thoughts and feelings to provide a positive experience that encourages repeat buying and recommendations. This article looks at the value of customer service and how to excel at providing it.

What is customer service?

Customer service is what sets a business apart from the competition. Even if a company’s services or products are priced higher than a competitor, some customers may overlook costs if accompanied by outstanding customer service. Consumers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to tell their friends or become a loyal customer.

Why is customer service important?

Providing excellent customer service enhances the reputation of a business. Customers are more likely to come back to the business if they are being listened to and treated fairly. Learning who the business’s customers are lets the company offer personalized service that creates repeat buying patterns. Repeat clients may recommend the business to others and provide positive social feedback about their total buying experience.

How to provide excellent customer service

Providing excellent customer service involves communication, honesty and empathy for a consumer’s needs. Create an atmosphere of service with enthusiasm for the customer’s needs and what they hope to accomplish. 

Here are five methods to provide excellent customer service:

1. First, greet customers with enthusiasm

Whether the customer is making a purchase or needs an item serviced, greeting the customer right away proves you are attentive and interested. Body language is important, so smiling and making eye contact can make a customer feel valued. 

Example: A customer walks in, excited about the store’s big sale and wants to know where the sale items are located.

Ineffective: ‘Wait there, someone will be with you.’

Effective: Stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, smile and say, ‘Good morning! Thanks for stopping in today, is there something I can help you with?’

2. Second, listen attentively

Learning to listen helps you to understand the situation and address it accordingly. Use active listening skillsand repeat the customer’s request in a different way to demonstrate you heard correctly. Show respect for their concerns and avoid defending the company. 

Example: Payton, a regular customer at Midtown Online Emporium, calls the business after hearing a piece of news about security breaches to learn how Midtown protects her information.

Ineffective: ‘We’re a big company and that doesn’t happen to us. You don’t have anything to worry about and your account is fine.’

Effective: ‘I understand your concerns about the safety of your data and I can assure you we take necessary precautions to keep accounts secure. Would you like to hear how we do that?’

3. Third, focus on the solution

Be honest in your responses and avoid misinformation by offering to find an answer if you don’t know. Use critical thinking to provide alternatives or educate the customer about the company’s other products or services. If necessary, provide the customer with channels they can use to resolve the problem.

Example: Charlie Jones recently purchased an item, but two weeks later it isn’t working correctly. Charlie emails the company to inquire about returns.

Ineffective: ‘Mr. Jones, sorry, but our return policy states that you have 10 days to return an item and it’s been two weeks.’ 

Effective: ‘Mr. Jones, thanks for contacting us about our return policy. Though purchases must be returned within 10 days, since yours stopped working, we want to help. Although we don’t have the brand you purchased in stock, we’re happy to trade it for an equivalent. I’m including web links you can browse. Reply with questions or, once you’ve made a choice, I’ll personally take care of the return.’

4. Fourth, know your product or service

Customers often rely on companies to guide purchases or offer advice. Avoid unnecessary technical language and provide explanations the customer understands. Gain a customer’s trust by using the opportunity to educate about alternative products or services. Repeat business is encouraged when the customer knows the company understands their personal needs.

Example: Sandy celebrated her 70th birthday with her first tablet but she’s having a difficult time sending messages. She brings the tablet to the electronics store so someone can help her navigate her new device.

Ineffective: ‘Oh, you’ve got the SpeedTablet 10.5 with enhanced Bluetooth and 128 gigs of memory. Let me show you how to upload over WiFi.’

Effective: ‘You made a great choice for your first tablet and it has plenty of user-friendly options. Let’s start with basic features, then discuss your primary goals in detail.’

5. Fifth, be responsive

When a customer has a question, provide an answer as swiftly and completely as possible. Give honest answers or offer to find out the answer if you don’t know. Make sure the customer understands the response then follow through to ensure the customer’s needs are met.

Example: Parker wants to purchase a new treadmill and he’s been browsing products on the company’s website. Parker wants to know if one of the treadmills has certain safety features and he asks in the website’s chatbox.

Ineffective: ‘All of our treadmills come with safety features so this one probably does too. Read the descriptions to find out.’

Effective: ‘Good afternoon Parker, I understand you’re interested in this treadmill’s safety features. Let me tell you about each one. Let’s keep this chat open while you browse so you can ask questions about the other models we have available. Don’t forget to check our clearance page for some great deals. Have I helped you decide on a treadmill today?’

6. Lastly, build relationships

Customers are people, and creating relationships fosters trust and comfort. Build a connection with the customer to satisfy their needs and encourage trust in the business. A customer who feels welcome and acknowledged is likely to visit that business again. Practice remembering names or last conversations to foster positive relationships.

Example: Mr. Reese has been banking at Midwest Financial for 10 years and he relies on tellers to check his math and bankers to guide his finances. Mr. Reese is in the teller line today to deposit a paycheck.

Ineffective: ‘Next!’

Effective: ‘Good morning Mr. Reese, how’s that new grandson of yours? I’ll double-check your paperwork and we’ll get this deposit into your account. Do you need to see a banker today to discuss any financial changes?’