There are very few times I’ve walked away from a business and thought to myself, “Man, that place really has their customer service dialed in!” The truth is, I can count the number of times on one hand that I received service so good that I was really “Wowed.” I’m sure the same is probably true for you. This is because even though so many companies claim customer service is at the heart of their business, few are actually able to build a team, business or brand around the concept in a way that it is evident to their end customer. The good news? Companies who ARE able to figure out how to make customers feel truly cared for may be few and far between – but they are remembered.
The question is, what can a company do to provide customer service that makes them truly stand out? And just how do you define “Great Customer Service” anyway? These are both excellent questions. The trouble is, just as every customer is unique, so is every customer interaction, and every business for that matter. Unfortunately, this means it isn’t really possible to pin down the exact criteria for how to make customer service a success in every situation. However, there are some basic rules businesses can follow that would put them on the right track to becoming customer service all-stars in their industry.
Customer Service 101: Manage Your Frame of Mind
A good place to begin when you are looking for ways to give great customer care is to put yourself in a frame of mind to be helpful and positive. Seems obvious, right? Maybe it is, but being intentional about this and giving even just a moment’s thought to it at the beginning of your day, or before jumping on that next phone call, can be a very helpful way to not lose focus on your ultimate goal: helping the customer. I admit it isn’t always easy to put on a bright, peppy smile and crush through the day. However, sometimes it helps to remind ourselves that no matter how difficult a customer may be, we ultimately have a choice in how we are going to respond when faced with a challenging customer service experience: We can either try to be positive and productive, or we can take their frustration personally. Although some days it may be tempting to choose the latter, you’ll never create that winning customer support experience you’re aiming for unless you take steps to make sure you give each customer your best effort.
“Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They’ll just walk away.” – Marilyn Suttle, Success Coach
Be A Customer Solutions Leader
Being grounded and positive can go a long way to warming a customer up enough for them to be responsive to your support, but you still have to address the problem they contacted you about in the first place. It can be pretty common that by the time a customer calls support they are already tired of dealing with their problem on their own, and may have even transferred their frustration towards the company itself. At this point, it is important to communicate to the customer that you understand the situation and have everything under control. Instill confidence that you are actively seeking a resolution to their issue so they don’t leave the conversation with lingering doubt about whether calling you was a waste of time. As a customer solutions leader, you should also consider connecting with the customer to provide updates regularly until their problem is resolved. After you champion a resolution, you have the perfect opportunity to show your customer you care about more than just checking them off your list. Go the extra mile and follow up with the them and make sure everything ended up meeting their expectations.
“Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it, in the way you said you were going to do it.” – Larry Winget, Author and Motivational Speaker
Study Your Competition and Look For Unique Ways To Stand Out
Finally, there is no shame in studying the competition, or other successful businesses who have poured time, money and energy into being successful at something you are working to achieve. Doing this with customer service is no different. There are multi-million dollar corporations who have made a name for themselves based on the high level of customer service they consistently provide. Take the Ritz-Carlton for example. This is a brand that is raved about by guests for the outstanding customer service. Going above and beyond is the norm, and you can read stories about it from delighted customers in just about any RitZ-Carlton Google search. One of my personal favorites was when they made a photo series of a stuffed animal that one of their guest’s son left behind. They wanted to reassure the distraught boy that his little buddy was simply taking a bit of an extended vacation and would join them again soon. Although businesses need to be focused on what makes them money, there is always an opportunity to go above and beyond for your customer.
“Customer service isn’t about telling people how awesome you are; it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.” – Peter Shankman, Entrepreneur & Customer Service Expert
Although these tactics can all be effective by themselves, I leave it up to you to determine how they fit together, and more importantly, how they fit with your business and your customers. However, when in doubt, remember to try to be positive, solution oriented and unique. And in the end, if all else fails, it never hurts to keep things simple and just focus on the customer’s happiness, because…
“At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou