Customers can be tricky, but whether you’re forward-facing in-store or working behind the scenes, ensuring your customers are happy is paramount. First impressions are important, so it’s absolutely vital that you present yourself and your business as professionally, politely and effectively as possible – be it in person or over the phone.
Here are our Ten Commandments of Customer Service, which will help encourage a good relationship between you and your customers:
1.) Thou shalt always smile (when appropriate)
Unless you’re greeting a grieving widow at your funeral director’s service, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with switching on the high-beams when you say hello. Even if you’re fielding a phone call rather than a face-to-face meeting, communication experts say that anyone can ‘hear’ your smile as well as see it.
2.) Thou shalt not talk down to your customer
You want your customer to feel appreciated for their loyalty, not patronised for their difficulty. So if they approach you with an issue, it should be your honour to try and solve it with them, together and on an equal level.
3.) Thou shalt listen and respond in a friendly manner
Half of your role in customer service is to listen – that way you’ll get the full story and won’t jump to conclusions, something which could upset customers. When you respond, do so with respect and in a friendly, helpful manner. Feel free to add a chatty voice to proceedings if that’s how your business’s Tone of Voice works best.
4.) Thou shalt make the customer feel like the most important person in the world
Because as long as they’re paying for your services, they are among the most important people in the world. When you see or hear them, your world should go all wobbly and stirring music should be playing in your mind like one of those soppy love scenes.
5.) Thou shalt not reply to an email one week after it is sent
Unless your email server is playing up, there’s absolutely no excuse not to be timely with customer queries and responses. If you’re pushed for time, the very least you can do is reply to thank the customer and assure them you’ll be in touch as soon as you can – and then, get in touch as soon as you can!
6.) Thou shalt say sorry and offer to make it up to angry customers
Don’t be afraid to apologise profusely to customers – but be genuine about it, as all too often a Twitter feed that’s full of ‘sorry’ can appear insincere. Offer to help out in any way you can and, if you’re authorised to do so, don’t be afraid to dish out some freebies or refunds. Your customers will understand that at least you’re trying to make it up to them.
7.) Thou shalt not take it personally
If you find yourself on the receiving end of an aggrieved customer’s barrage of abuse, try not to let it affect your demeanour – or your own personal mood. Good customer service skills mean having plenty of sympathy when dealing with an unhappy customer, but also knowing when they’re being unreasonably vulgar. Ignore the bad comments, focus on what you can do to help – and apologise when the answer is ‘not much’.
8.) Thou shalt give a customer what they want
When your customer needs a solution, and fast, you must do all you can to resolve the issue. No matter what your business is offering, there’s someone out there who’s trying to compete for your customers – and if you can’t retain that loyalty through brilliant customer service, who’s to say they’ll stick around?
9.) Thou shalt go the extra mile
On top of the previous point, solving a problem is all well and good, but going the extra mile for your customer is something they’ll always remember. You’ve heard the old adage that a customer is more likely to tell friends about some bad customer service they received than about their good experience – by increasing their brand loyalty through regular communication and great service, you can negate that risk entirely.
10.) Thou shalt ask for feedback
When you’ve managed to satisfy a customer above and beyond their needs, you should always ask for feedback. Many businesses promote their wares using customer testimonials, and you won’t know what you need to work on (even if it’s nothing) without asking customers to rate their experience with you. Plus, if the majority is positive feedback, then you’ll definitely want to shout about it.
These are our top tips for providing first class customer service. Why not have these commandments designed & printed into an educational poster for your team? Do you have any other tips on providing good customer service? We’d love to hear them – share them with us in the comments section below.
If you're looking for inspiration (or not) take a look at; The best and worst motivational staff room posters.