News Desk

Customer Service, what level of service are you providing?

Creating a great customer experience from the ground up – This one is all about the basics!

Regardless of the industry, customer service and creating a great experience is fundamentally important to future business success. More so, however it is necessary to start with solid groundwork and get the fundamentals right first!

This might all sound very basic, however, every day I experience average to poor customer service and I encourage each of you, either business owners or staff reading this to assess what sort of service is being delivered in your business. Think about your best and worst experience – what made them positive or negative? 

Who are your customers?

A customer can be defined as a person, work team or department, business or other type of organisation, which utilises your facility or business.

Everyone has customers, whatever sector you work in.Whether they work directly with customers or behind the scenes in administration, every employee and every department has customers.

There are two kinds of customers

- External customers; people that utilise your services or purchase your products and;
- Internal customers; colleagues within the business

The concept of customer service is to make an exceptional impression, encouraging the customer to spread positive feedback about your business.A dissatisfied customer will relate their negative experience to others, which could lead to negative feeling towards your brand.

Customer service needs to be flexible as all customers are unique, service expectations vary depending on the individual and circumstances.It is important for staff to treat all customers as individuals, recognising and understanding their individual needs.It is essential to use a wide range of interpersonal skills, for example; questioning, listening, communication (verbal and written) and problem solving skills.Body language must be consistent with their verbal communications.

Research has shown that communications skills are broken up into three components.Body language has the largest effect on customer service (Mehrabian, 1967, 2009).

  • Words – 7%
  • Tone of Voice – 38%
  • Body Language – 55%

Body language consists of the following:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Posture
  • Dress and personal appearance
  • Gestures

All types of body language should be considered when dealing with customers.Staff should refrain from using negative facial expressions, rolling eyes, pointing fingers and slouching or putting hands on hips.These types of body language can cause a negative feeling and/or response from the customer. Business owners need to coach staff away from their potential habits.

Have you ever actually taken the time to assess these types of behaviours in your staff?

Staff are constantly representing YOUR brand, so they need to strive for certain qualities to help them answer customer needs, these qualities include:

Friendliness – most basic and associated with courtesy and politeness.

Empathy – the customer needs to know that the service provider appreciates their wants and circumstances.

Fairness – the customer wants to feel they receive adequate attention and reasonable answers.

Control – the customer wants to feel their wants and input has influenced the outcome.

Alternatives – most customers want choice and flexibility from service.They want to know there are many avenues to satisfy them.

Information – customers want to know about products and services in time-sensitive manner.

Do’s and Don’ts of Customer Service

Nothing makes customers angrier than a service provider who treats them like an antagonist and is not interested in assisting them to resolve their problems.

Some of the one-liners that could drastically change the customer experience and ultimately their reaction to your brand are outlined below:

Wrong Approach   Professional Approach  
“I don’t know “I’m not sure, I’ll find out for you”
“No” “I’m sorry, but what I can do is”
“That’s not my job” “Let me find the person who can help you”
“Your right – that is bad” “I understand your frustrations”
“That’s not my problem” “Can I suggest you put your concerns in writing”
“You expect it by when?” “I’ll do my best to get it to you”
“Don’t’ get angry” “Calm down, we will sort this out for you”
“I’m busy” “I’ll be with you in a moment”

Top 10 Tips - ensure your staff are:

1. Developing the right attitude.

2. Looking at the problems through the customer’s eyes.

3. Confident in their knowledge of your products, services as well as policies and procedures.

4. Not giving the customer the run around and are delivering the right information.

5. Paraphrasing the customer needs, this will help confirm that staff and customer are on the same track.

6. Not telling a customer they are wrong, even if they are! The last thing a customer with a problem wants to hear is that the problem is their fault.

7. Creating a great experience every time and building a good relationship with each customer.

8. Not taking angry customers personally. Staff should act professionally and accept the challenge of turning an angry person into a satisfied customer.

9. Wary of making promises they can’t keep. Avoid building unrealistic expectations that will cause the customer to feel short changed.

10. ALWAYS following through. If staff promise to call or contact the customer, ensure it is being done as soon as possible.

What you should do now:

Do an evaluation of each staff member ask them the following:

  • What do you see as being good customer service?
  • What is customer service?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to understand a customer's personal circumstances very quickly; how did you go about doing this?
  • Tell me about a time when you saw someone who needed help. What did you do to help them?
  • Tell me about a time you went out of your comfort zone to help someone.
  • What does excellent customer service mean to you?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed excellent customer service?

Do they have answers that impress, motivate or excite you? Great! If not, perhaps some training and development is in order.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues further or how you can help train and develop your staff in the art of developing a customer service experience please contact Erin Adams (02) 8624 3300