Customer Experience News & Trends

6 customer service skills everyone needs (yes, everyone)

Your front-line customer service pros could probably teach every one of your employees a thing or two – and now, they actually should.

Employees outside of traditional service roles have more contact with customers these days. They’re in a hurry for the right answers. So customers will either track down or be sent to an authority to get answers and responses as quickly as possible.

That’s why everyone in your organization needs to be prepared to make the customer experience as positive as possible.

Here are six skills everyone needs, plus tips on training for them:

1. Clarity

Most people are overwhelmed by communication — so much email, social media, news and conversation — because it’s not clear.

Employees need to be clear in what they say and do so customers can get what they need and move on.

The best bet: Communicate using simple language and short sentences. Speak clearly and slowly. Avoid low tones and mumbling. If customers need more information or clarification, they’ll ask for it. Then you can elaborate.

2. Patience

Customers often reach out to companies when they’re frustrated and/or confused. So they need the people they come in contact with to be patient in hearing them out and understanding their issues and emotions.

The key to patience: Take notes so you have at least one clarifying question to ask when customers are done explaining. Note-taking keeps you focused on customers’ words and emotions, and prepares you with all the information you need to give competent, effective answers.

3. Attentiveness

The more closely you pay attention to customers, the quicker you can help them, and both of you can be on your way. Customers don’t always verbalize exactly what they mean. For instance, they aren’t going to tell you to improve the website, but they will say, “I can never find X on your site.”

Pay attention for what they tell you without saying it by zoning in on the specific and emotional words they use. Then respond to the emotions and continue the conversation using their own words so they know you paid attention and are on the same page as them.

4. Product knowledge

All employees don’t need to know the ins and outs of your company’s products and services. But they need to know the basics and who knows the details. That way, they can answer baseline questions so customers don’t have to go searching for someone else. And when the question is a little more complicated, employees know where and how to send customers to the authority … seamlessly.

What’s the right level of product training? Make sure all employees know enough to use your products like customers do every day.

5. Staying positive

Employees sometimes think they’re doing the right thing, but the language they use actually creates a bad experience for customers. Small changes to more positive language can make even short interactions much better for customers and employees.

Subtle changes make a difference. Cover these examples in training:

  • Instead of, “No problem,” say, “Yes!”
  • Instead of, “I can’t get that to you until next month. It’s back ordered,” say, “That will be available next month. I’ll get it ordered right now to make sure it’s sent to you as soon as it hits our warehouse.”
  • Instead of, “I can’t do that, say, What I can do is …”

6. Calmness

Upset or angry customers will let their fury loose on anyone who responds to them. So all employees need to be prepared to become the calm in customers’ storm and (at least start) to defuse the situation.

One of the most important things to do in a tense customer situation: Avoid saying, Calm down. That only frustrates customers more.

Here’s what’s better:

  • Maintain an even, quiet tone (upset customers often start to mimic it)
  • Name it. Interject the customer’s name into sentences to create familiarity
  • Empathize. Recognize customers’ emotions. Say, I can see why you’d be frustrated, and
  • Apologize. Sometimes that’s all a customer needs to hear to feel better. You don’t have to apologize for something you didn’t do. Just apologize for the situation. Say, “I’m sorry this has happened.” Or, “I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this.”

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