In our last blog post, we explored how to Develop and Deploy Effective Product Knowledge Training, with that, customer-facing representatives are now knowledgeable about the products that they showcase to clients.
The groundwork has been laid, now it is time for some watering and grooming. Which brings us to the Make It or Break It Moment – the customer service. How effectively and efficiently the associate engages with the customer and serves to their satisfaction and delight is the deal maker/breaker. That is how important Customer Service is.
A fact often ignored is that Customer Service is a philosophy that permeates an entire organization. Or it should. Customer Service is NOT relegated only to front-line customer-facing personnel. Customer Service must be at the very core of the company. In other words, how you write and design the company brochure, the UX of your website, the way you pack your products, any activity that touches your client is an element of customer service.
Hence, it stands to reason that ALL your associates must be trained in customer service. The training will necessarily be different as the impact of each function’s interactions with the customer will be unique. But training there must be. Companies therefore must create the capacity, time, space, and culture to perpetuate this philosophy, so that it is a ‘living and breathing’ habit.
Your associates now have the product knowledge. How they APPLY this knowledge vis a vis their clients – this is the showcase of their customer service.
So, let us now examine some of the behaviors and traits associated with the application of this knowledge.
Here’s how to Deliver Smart Customer Service:
Table of Contents
The first quality that comes to mind is that of Mindfulness. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as
1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Extrapolating this quality into the world of customer service, the associate will do the following in the different contexts:
Pack the product with precision, care, adhering to the quality standards and protocols, so that when the customer receives it in his hands, he knows he has received something of value, as per his expectation or beyond expectation.
Design a user interface with thoughtfulness and user-friendliness such that the client will find it easy and engaging to use the website/mobile app.
Be with the customer in the here and now, not just by actively listening to him, paying attention to his non-verbal expressions, including his body language.
A quality that must be absolutely de rigueur is that of Approachability – the quality of being approachable – welcoming, congenial, open, helpful, obliging. This is again a feature that can be expressed in various forms and contexts. How approachable is your website? Do you have Customer Care numbers, email ids, chat boxes for a customer to easily approach you as a Company? How approachable are your customer-facing associates in their demeanor and conduct?
Allied to Approachability is Responsiveness. Defined as the quality of reacting quickly and positively, this is the other side of the coin of Approachability. So, you may have a great website, with easy-to-access customer-company interfaces. Is your response time equally quick? Your customer-facing associates are very friendly and polite. Do you also respond with ease, promptness, and accuracy?
Closely allied with Mindfulness and Approachability, is the quality of Empathy. The dictionary defines it as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Taking off from our last example on Mindfulness, a key attribute of empathy is the willingness to listen. Openness to listening is the gateway to receiving. In other words, a customer will intuitively lean towards a person who demonstrates an ability to listen unconditionally.
When you actively listen you will be able to cut through the noise of frustration, anger, regret, incomprehension, confusion (as the case may be), and decipher the issue; in other words, you will identify what the customer is talking about/venting/sharing. That paring down, separating the wheat from the chaff is the most potent point in customer service. Once you have recognized the client’s need, you must acknowledge it by paraphrasing his statements and repeating them back to ensure that there is complete clarity in understanding.
Once understanding is established, you will also realize the extent of the customer’s knowledge and expectation from the product/or lack of thereof. Your job is to fill in the blank spaces, acquaint the customer with facts that he was unaware of/confused about, provide any information that they may be lacking, so that an equivalence has been achieved between you and the client. These steps also reassure the customer that you want to help and are not paying mere lip service.
Earlier we had spoken about Mindfulness in various contexts. Similarly, Empathy can be expressed in different forms – on phone, on email, chat, face-face. Tone of voice, choice of words, body language – all of these used appropriately in specific contexts all have the power of demonstrating empathy.
Patience is a virtue that must be especially practiced in engaging with customers. Empathetic associates must not rush in with their words of solace or agreement or denial, but exercise patience and hear the customer out completely. Customers want to start, rush, stop and interrupt again. Company associates must be patient enough to hear it all, more than one time, without getting easily disgruntled or frustrated, and worse, showing their annoyance.
Patience does not imply that the company associate gives in and dances to the tunes or the cacophony that the customer creates. Assertiveness is the other side of the coin of Patience. Defined as confident and persuasive conduct, this quality must be learned by customer-facing associates so that they know how and when to assert themselves with politeness and stand for the product/service/brand philosophy/individual self-respect without overstepping boundaries or causing customer disengagement. This territory can be a minefield to negotiate or it can be a deeply satisfying one.
That was a ready reckoner of the top six qualities required to be demonstrated for smart customer service.
We would now like to assert the importance of Customer Service or Customer Engagement with some statistics.
“Consistently good service and offering proactive help, results in a 32% increase in the likelihood of repurchase or product recommendation, according to CX Solutions.
Hold this thought, and plan on training your associates on Customer Service so that they consistently deliver a wow Customer Experience, while we mull on how to design effective Customer Service Training. See you next week.
Watch this space as you stay safe!