The third Thursday of every new quarter we focus special time on getting to know our customer. In fact, this special day is named “Get to Know Your Customer Day.” For our first installment on this day for 2014, we thought we’d discuss the art of communication with our customers.
We know that as Customer Service Representatives, communication, or should we say good communication, is the end all and be all of our jobs. It means customer satisfaction, a new sale, a repeat sale, cross sale, and word-of-mouth advertising for the clients we serve.
While we rely heavily on our scripted responses for usual inquiries and concerns, every call that we take from a customer is an opportunity to build rapport, communicate more effectively, and impact our bottom line.
Have you looked at your rapport building skills lately? Here are six tips to keep it up there with the best of them:
Use the customer’s name.
A basic, first step to “personalize” service to individual customers is to use their name throughout the entire call. There is a difference between saying “Hi, what can I do for you today?” and “Hi, Jodi, what can I do for you today?” This gives the customer an instant feeling that she is being attended to, and that somebody is listening, even if she probably knows that she may be the nth customer you handled that day. She will appreciate being treated like a person, not a random caller.
Say please and thank you.
Some things never go out of fashion. Basic courtesies/pleasantries in communication is one of them. Customers appreciate that.
Explain your reason for saying no.
While we all want to please the customer and give them what they need, and sometimes even want, we can only bend backwards up to a point. Do not over promise. Say no if you must; but, there is a way of saying no without being offensive, or without making the customer feel that he is being rejected. Politely and clearly explain why you are saying no, and stand by it. You cannot flip flop with no’s, because you might be giving the false idea that you are purposely shortchanging them.
Show your interest in the customer’s needs.
First things first: Listen. I mean REALLY listen. This is most important when dealing with an angry customer, complaining over unmet expectations. Allow him to let it all out, while taking the time to figure out how you can respond when he is done. Apologize, at least for the fact that he feels the way he does. Ask questions. Clarify his concerns. Customers want you to take their side, and you can build rapport, even in a not so ideal situation, by listening and making them feel your sincerity.
Be empathetic to the customer’s feelings.
Taking perspective, or looking at something from the other person’s standpoint, does a lot in building rapport between a customer and a customer service representative. Addressing a customer’s concern comes from understanding that concern. Try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Own his/her problem. Then armed with what you know and the options available, come up with the appropriate response.
Let the customer know his or her options.
The customer made that call that you’re handling now because he wants a solution. But sometimes the solution that he wants may not always be possible. If what he wants, or what he think he needs is not possible, tell the customer what options are available to him, and give advise on the best course of action. That’s being an advisor, and customers appreciate that.
The point of all these is building rapport with our customers. This facilitates good communication, which, in turn, results in a distinct brand of service that customers will always seek and go back to.