by Robert L. Moment
Customers of every kind of business imaginable these days bemoan the state of customer service. While the global economy and the Internet have given businesses the opportunity to serve more clients than ever before, the trend has also given way to impersonal, lackluster customer service. It’s unfortunate that most businesses today don’t realize that they are regularly losing valuable customers if they don’t focus on providing an exceptional customer service experience.
In most businesses, once a customer begins dealing with the customer service department, he or she is already in a negative mindset. The best customer service representatives aren’t those that simply neutralize the problem. Outstanding customer service representatives take a negative and turn it into a positive that ensures the customer is not only happy, but is convinced he or she has had an outstanding experience – the Wow Factor – that he would not have gotten with any other company.
The key ingredients of the Wow experience are:
• Seamless Service
• Trustworthy Service
• Pro-active Service
Seamless Service means providing everything the customer needs, not just what is required to meet the minimum standards. It’s about making sure that they don’t have to wait and wonder. Customers will appreciate a smooth, seamless process for addressing their needs. If there are several steps needed to take care of their concerns, keep them in the loop – update them by email or with a quick phone call so that they know you are working on the situation and progress is being made. By keeping them abreast of what is going on, you are letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them and that you understand their concerns – reassurance and communication are powerful customer service tools.
Trustworthy Service is essential to retaining customers. Promising a customer anything and delivering nothing is the surest way to not only lose a customer, but get the kind of “word of mouth” bad press that can ruin you. Under-promise and over-deliver – If you promise a satisfactory solution and then go the extra mile to not only satisfy the customer, but gain their appreciation and “Wow” them, you will get word of mouth that will bring new customers to you.
Attentive Service means paying attention during and after the initial contact. How many times have you contacted customer service and been subjected to an obviously scripted response from the customer service representative? Does it give you the feeling they aren’t really listening, but just trying to get to the end of their canned presentation?
Attentiveness should run through every customer service experience, from listening carefully to the customer’s concerns to following up after the exchange is over to make sure their needs have been met. Listening isn’t just about hearing – it is about understanding what is really being said. The words are just the beginning –what about the customer’s tone of voice? Her mood? Is she disappointed, angry or frustrated? Keying in to the customer’s mood and responding appropriately is essential, and it means not following a script.
Resourcefulness means finding solutions when there appear to be none. Many companies have iron-clad policies that must be followed whenever a problem arises; however, sometimes a customer won’t be satisfied by the “company line” approach. Resourceful customer service representatives know that there is always a way to move beyond the standard procedures in order to make a customer happy. Resourcefulness involves finding a solution when a solution isn’t apparent. This may mean moving up the chain of command before the customer demands to talk to your superior. Companies with excellent customer service also give their representatives some leeway so that they can come up with creative solutions on their own. When a customer senses that you are going beyond the norm to help them, they will feel valued and respected.
Courtesy is a commodity that is becoming rarer every day. It takes so little to be polite but it is becoming a lost art. Say please when you ask a customer a question, thank them for their information and take your time talking to them. Nothing makes a customer feel more devalued than being treated like a number. Use the person’s name, make requests rather than demands and know when to apologize. When something goes wrong for a customer, they want to hear that you understand their frustration and that you are genuinely sorry that they are being inconvenienced. It takes nothing to say, “I’m so sorry you aren’t satisfied and I hope we can do something to correct this.”
Pro-active Service means not waiting for the customer to come up with a solution that you simply follow through on. A pro-active customer service representative anticipates the needs of the customer and follows through. Don’t wait for the customer to ask you what you are willing to do – anticipate the question and answer it before they can ask. If they call and say they aren’t satisfied, apologize and immediately suggest some solutions. Customers want you to take the lead – acknowledge their unhappiness, offer a solution or solutions and explain to them how you are going to follow through. Pro-active service means taking the lead, which will reassure your customers that you know what you are doing and that you will follow through.
If you keep these six keys in mind – seamless service, trustworthiness, attentiveness, resourcefulness, courtesy and pro-active service – you will be able to offer every customer the Wow Customer Service Experience that inspires loyalty and keeps customers coming back for more.
Robert Moment is an innovative customer service consultant, business coach and author of “Invisible Profits: The Power of Exceptional Customer Service”. Visit http://www.customerservicetrainingskills.com and sign-up for the FREE 5 Day e-course titled, “Creating Wow Customer Service Experiences”.
Need help in this area? One of the most popular customer service training videos ever, Remember Me reminds us that some customers don’t complain when they are treated badly, they just quietly take their business elsewhere.