In any industry, sport, or even a good game of poker, success hinges upon a confluence of many factors: Skill, experience, and favorable timing all shape the path towards becoming a champion. Still, it’s easy to get distracted from the basics and take your eye off of the ball. Players in the customer service (CS) game know this better than most.
While there’s a lot to sift through in an industry constantly turned on its head by new trends, management styles, and technologies, some basic things are constant: Coveting customer loyalty is key to ongoing business, and is accomplished through award-winning customer service. Whether you’re selling sandwiches or pushing a call center software for small business, there are now universal rules to abide by to ensure meaningful connections with customers.
Read on to learn about what we think of as the “5 R.U.L.E.S. of Working in Customer Service”: Remember to Listen, Use Good Tools, Leadership Leads, Engage Your Agents, and Swift Service Saves.
Remember to Listen
Listen to your customers. This is the most sacred of rules and at its core is a basic human need; when in any kind of distress, people want to be heard. CS agents can significantly improve a client’s experience simply by taking the time to listen attentively to his or her needs; giving full attention to the details of the case; and passing client feedback on to the larger organization. Don’t forget: While your customers may invest in your company financially, they are also your greatest source of product feedback and improvement, and that “feedback is vital to your success.” It seems fair, then, to lend those customers some love via listening. In a nutshell: Not being heard is bad for business.
Use Good Tools
Whether you’re a sculptor, chef, or underwater welder, your efforts would be wildly challenging without the appropriate tools of the trade; the same applies to the modern CS crew. Those teams achieving success have embraced the emerging technologies available to improve the lives of customers and agents alike. Having a diversity of CS options, including chat-bots, multi-channel support, call-back software, social media monitoring, and other solutions makes for a contemporary customer experience in an increasingly cybernated, 24/7 world.
For a busy CS team, success comes both from within and above: A solid CS Director or team manager who sees the minutia of a problem and offers a long-term solution is a must-have for a winning business. Like the agents they oversee, good CS leaders are effective communicators that provide feedback to the company about major customer complaints and get the product-improvement ball rolling. They are also effective listeners who hear the concerns and suggestions of on-the-ground agents, and implement tools that take pressure off the call center and make for a more time-efficient team. One thing is clear: Leading in CS leadership has extraordinary impacts upon the life of a company, a product, an agent, and a customer.
Engage Your Agents
Like CS Guru Shep Hyken has noted, the question of why an organization is delivering good or bad customer service comes down to one thing: “What is happening on the inside of that organization? To sum it up in one word: culture.” Fostering a positive work culture, celebrating successes, reframing failures as ‘educational moments’, and offering incentives to CS agents will lift spirits, reduce turnover rates, and boost productivity. It also improves the quality of life of overworked employees by making room for some workplace friendships, too. Being a positive force internally can help power people forward.
Swift Service Saves
When dealing with a customer who is reaching out for assistance, the rule of thumb is simple: Act quickly. Customers despise long wait-times and, as every second counts, getting down with call-back or multi-channel technologies is a matter of increasing urgency. With that in mind, it’s important not to rush: Be swift, but make sure to linger long enough to listen to your customer’s needs and solve the problem with aplomb. Swift service is, without a doubt, a must at every level of the customer journey, from phone call to follow-up.
Sure, there are many rules to take note of in the CS world, an industry defined by constant change. But listening, utilizing, leading, engaging, and acting quickly are key to award-winning customer service.
Follow these rules: They’re a good place to start.