When it comes to business, the old saying that you are only as good as your weakest link is certainly true.
It might only take one bad experience for a customer to not only swear to never use your services again, but also to spread the word to family and friends.
For that reason it’s absolutely vital that your staff are equipped with not just the knowledge but the right attitude to make sure every contact your customers have is a pleasure. Here are just seven of the key skills your staff should never be without.
1) Telephone aptitude
Not everyone likes being on the phone and your best customer service representative may well transform into a mumbling, monosyllabic teenager when confronted with telephone enquiries.
However, this is often due to a lack of confidence so equipping your staff with the relevant training can result in a rapid improvement.
Communicating can be difficult if you can’t take cues from body language or eye contact and it can be easy for misunderstandings to occur. If your staff are concentrating on finding a solution, customers can easily get the impression that the person isn’t really listening to them.
2) An understanding of the importance of every customer
If your business is relatively successful, it can be easy for your staff to assume that small customers aren’t that important in the overall scheme.
However, the secret to success is by treating every customer as if they were a VIP, even if they are only making an enquiry or completing a small purchase.
If your customer service staff make everyone feel important, the chances of return business will improve and of course, you never know whether a small order will increase over time.
3) How to describe your product effectively
Whether you are selling physical goods or are a service provider, it’s essential that your staff know how to describe it.
Customers could well ring or visit with enquiries and not being able to promote without being pushy, or describe what you have or do in a positive manner could end up in lost business.
Staff are expected to be knowledgeable so ensuring they are up to speed on your business but equally doesn’t sound as if they are reading off a script will help boost your reputation.
4) Good listening skills
It may sound trite but hearing is not the same as listening. A customer may think they know what they want but identifying and understanding any subtext can help your staff fulfil their needs more suitably.
This isn’t always an easy skill to accomplish so unless your customer service staff has a natural flair for it, it’s best to make sure this is covered in a training session. There are plenty of customer services training courses available in the market but if they don’t cover this particular skill, or you simply want an abbreviated, more focussed session, you might want to consider arranging a bespoke package.
5) The difficult customer
Every company has some customers who are more difficult to deal with than others, whether it’s some-one who is constantly changing their mind or some-one who is persistently complaining for no apparent reason.
These customers can be challenging to deal with so it’s absolutely key your staff can communicate calmly and overcome any objections, even when put into a stressful situation.
Even if your customer service staff have individual targets to meet, if they cannot work as a team, your business will suffer.
Ensuring that your customer service staff understand that hitting their personal objectives to the detriment of the team is not an acceptable outcome should be a number one priority.
Putting team goals in place often helps to promote the sense of togetherness and regular group activities can build a rapport which should transfer into the results you see in the workplace.
7) Taking ownership
If a member of staff is talking to a customer, it really doesn’t matter if any problems have been caused by Bob in Accounts, Tina in Marketing or Sam in distribution. All the customer cares about is how it is going to be fixed.
Staff should be encouraged to take ownership if a customer reports a problem and not simply offload it because they weren’t the one that caused it in the first place. Customers are not interested in internal wrangling, they simply want to know whether the issue is going to be addressed and how quickly.
The customer service staff are apologetic and quick to resolve the problem, leaving the customer feeling well looked after and as if they have had a good experience, despite the fact they had cause to complain.
No matter how good your products are, if your staff are equipped with the right communication skills and expertise in dealing with customers, your business could find it difficult to flourish. By investing in the right kind of training, you could find that results transform overnight and your staff take on a new air of confidence almost like magic.
- License: Creative Commons image source
By Nathan Griffiths in conjunction with Creativedge customer service training.