It is every company’s responsibility to realize the difference that well-trained CS can make to its bottom line: financially, and reputation-wise.
In today’s competitive global economy, companies have to be run like a tight ship and make sure that they are doing all they can, in the best way possible, to stay in business and be ahead of the competition.
The first priority of any business is to make a profit. The customer is key. What makes a happy customer? The feeling that all their business needs and queries are handled in a competent, quick and courteous manner.
Many departments are responsible for fulfilling a customer’s needs, but the primary point of contact of a firm with the outside world is Customer Service. First impressions can make or break a business relationship. Since there aren’t any do-overs in life, the best way to get it right the first time is through customer service training.
What well-trained customer service personnel can do for you
Customers who experience good service are more likely to become repeat customers. According to existing research, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase your profits by up to 125%. Making customer service a priority can see your profits go 60% higher than your rivals.
Facebook and Twitter are great platforms for customer feedback, good or bad. Good customer service personnel will turn even negative reviews into opportunities to solve problems and turn a bad situation around. They don’t give up at the first sign of negativity.
Positive interactions with customer service personnel will help you to retain loyal customers, who increase in value over time.
When your customer service personnel is trained well, they will keep up with pre and post-sales activities, and ensure that the customer is taken care of, each step of the way. This requires assiduous record – keeping through a database, preferably using a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software. This will ensure better follow up, complete customer personas/profiles, and more personalized service.
What a good customer service plan should include
Have a good manager:
If you control employee turnover, that encourages existing staff to stick around.
If you have a good manager heading your customer service team, they will not only lead by example, encouraging their staff to grow under their leadership but will also encourage and guide them to be better versions of themselves.
Of course, they have to have good people skills, but they have to have enough experience to anticipate customers’ needs, and how to educate and train their subordinates on handling situations and resources available to them, as well as the chain of command, and inter-departmental coordination. A track record of 3-5 years would be ideal.
Have a good customer service training plan:
A training plan will ensure that there are no oversights when imparting knowledge to your customer service employees.
Make and review your materials ahead of time, and make provisions for extra copies, if needed. Make sure they have a Standard Operating Procedures manual for customer service. You could have a hardcopy available with the manager, but ideally, to save on paper, and make the material more interactive (with videos, quizzes, etc.) by making a soft copy available online, on your local network or company website.
Review and update your material on a regular basis; customer service has come a long way from the ’80s! Monitor and assess your team over various sessions. Based on their performance and your observations, you could probably find a few candidates to become mentors.
Employees learn continuously, so pairing them up, and having a few stellar employees as mentors and guides, can actually make your job a lot easier.
As work will include using computers in one form or another, make sure that all new employees have logins, email ids, access to computers, and anything else they need to get into their training from day one.
Mast sure your customer service personnel know their product well and have all the relevant information about their company.
Make your customer the first priority:
There are many types of customers. Your success in dealing with them will be determined by how they want to be dealt with:
Some clients are all business and require fast service. Some clients require hand-holding and need someone to patiently answer all their questions.
While some clients are in the mood to buy something, they take a more personal approach to business and want to do business with someone they can personally relate to.
Customers who are irate, or who have complaints, need to be handled with care. That means listening to them without interruption, pinpointing how their problem can be solved in the best way, and in the shortest amount of time. Keep following up with them until their issue is resolved.
Have a good CRM software:
Customer Relationship Management is technology, usually software, that helps you keep track of your customers and your company’s interactions with them.
It organizes everything in one place. This is invaluable in the sense that it improves inter-departmental coordination and tracking of issues. This enables customer service to give more definite timelines to customers, and has ample space for filling out the history of interactions with customers, and helps fill out their individual profiles.
This, in turn, helps to personalize the client service and can change a basic interaction to a delightful experience to be remembered.
Don’t rest on your laurels
Keep observing your customer service team on the floor. Go through reports, metrics, handling of incidents, etc. There is always room for improvement, and people can always motivate each other to do better.
Speaking of motivation, make sure you have some kind of customer service recognition programme, to recognize your star performers. However, make sure you encourage your whole team so that they can bolster each other up, and move from strength to strength.
Don’t be too draconian in terms of punishment, try to focus on the issue, rather than the person, and have them work on their challenges, and be proud of their progress. Conduct tests, classes, and checks periodically to make sure everyone is on the same page.
What customer service should not do
In most cases, customer service follows the rules of basic courtesy and etiquette.
While most of this will be covered in customer service training, even the most seasoned professional can slip once in a while. Here are some points to remember:
- Never be rude or over-familiar with your customer, no matter how good or bad you think your relationship is. Be friendly, but professional. This applies to both spoken and written communication.
- Don’t pass the buck. Do everything you can to solve problems as they come to you. You’re dealing with customers, not ping pong balls.
- Don’t give up just because you don’t know what to do about a challenging situation or customer. When in doubt, ask!
- Listen to feedback, even negative feedback. Don’t get defensive.
- Don’t interrupt your customer, or hang up on them.
- Don’t keep your customer on hold indefinitely. No one likes that.
- Keep your promises, and update your customer whenever there is a new development.
It is every company’s responsibility to realize the difference that well-trained customer service can make to its bottom line: financially, and reputation-wise.
Turning a customer from an angry client into a friend, or a prospect into a believer is the aim of every exceptional customer service person. If this positive change was implemented everywhere, we’d definitely see a lot more delight and happiness out there, as well as more financially successful companies.
Let’s make it happen!