Regardless of your role in an online business, customer service is the first step to making a good and lasting impression. Lets be honest, bad customer service annoys us all! There is nothing more annoying then going to a restaurant or a department store and dealing with someone who is poorly trained in customer service.
I remember over the holidays I was at a major department store and of course the holidays are crazy at these stores. This day was no different! So here I am (admittedly impatient, lol because ‘ain’t nobody got time for this’) and the two young ladies behind the cash register are in a very unpleasant conversation about a coworker… telling all her business, but completely ignoring the folks at the register as though they couldn’t be bothered to quit their gossip to do their job. Uber annoying to me! I was thinking, wow.. I may never come back to this store simply because they have so poorly trained these two young ladies on the importance of my time and my money.
Can I just say, when it comes to successful customer service online the same goes… how well do you honor my time and my money when I have to deal with you (either on the behalf of your client or your own company.) Because trust me, not only am I paying attention to this so is all of your prospective (or client’s prospective) customers.
So here are my 5 C’s for Customer Service. I guarantee if you will implement them with every conversation that you have via email or phone you will win over anyone you are communicating with. After all isn’t that the game of great customer service to win people over. Make them feel as they they matter and that you are hear to support their success regardless of what that request is.
1. Be Courteous – I am afraid to some degree in the ‘me’ generation we have lost the importance of simply being courteous to folks. What I mean by this is to be respectful of others, of their time, of their learning curve (in many cases) of their questions and requests. I know this is not always an easy thing to remember or put into practice especially when we are often jumping from one fire to the next, but the reality is a little bit of ‘well mannered’ conversation can go a long way.
Ask folks how their day is going, don’t skip the pleasantries. When in email you can do this by simply adding a “I hope you are having a wonderful day” to your opening line… on the phone you can ask if this is still a good time for them or if they are having a good day. These little moments of respecting peoples time and attention is important in building a solid foundation for trust.
2. Be Conversational – We are not robots talking to robots, a little bit of personality (as long as it is brand honored) is okay. I truly appreciate an email interaction with a person who saw a way to make me laugh or think, especially if it’s without the need for me to respond. Just a simple conversation leaving feeling good about that person or the day. When this happens I tend to trust that person a lot more and am comfortable with following up with them if I need something, there is something warm and inviting about that person that makes me want to continue the conversation or do business with that company. I must the opposite can be very true as well. If I open an email and find someone is being short to the answer and giving me the minimal of what I am asking for, I will quickly decide that person is not work my time (and neither is the business they represent.)
3. Be Caring – This one is especially important if you are going to be working with your clients customer service. The old saying goes “Folks don’t care what you know until they know you care” well nothing is more true in customer service than that. When someone truly feels you care to help them, support them, assist them, it is obvious and they will forgive a lot quicker, respond a lot quicker and be more motivated to do what you need them to do to ensure whatever the request is can be resolved. If they do not feel like you care like you are simply doing a job to get it done… just a clock in and clock out on your part, that will show up in the way you communicate and the person on the other end will notice. Many times before I purchase a tech I will write into their support or read through their forums to see how their support has ‘cared’ for those using their products. If I see a short, elitist or a lack of caring in the answers I simply don’t buy that product. Because I have to deal with their support and get that type of response I will be super annoyed.
4. Be Careful – This may seem an odd element to have in here but I wanted to add it for those who are on the other end of the spectrum.. always with a service mindset, always caring and courteous and conversational. These folks are the folks we love to have execute customer service, but there is a downfall that happens with this type of personality (me included for the most part) and that is we are people pleasers (oh… you know who you are.) Sometimes if we are not careful we will promise more than we can deliver. With the best of intentions but the reality is it will always come back negatively on us. It’s important to only offer what you know is doable, only share what is needed and only give what is being requested. It is just as dangerous to the customer service experience to be an over sharer, explainer, etc… as it is to not be. Folks don’t always need to know the why… they want the result not necessary all the steps needed to get that result. So please be purposeful and on point in your conversation.
5. Be Complete – This is maybe the most annoying of all… if I ask a question that is not fully answered or responded too. Read through your request, ensure you have fully answered and responded to all that is being asked. If your correspondent has to reiterate the question they just asked that is both time consuming and annoying. If you leave out things and the correspondence has to go on longer that what was actually necessary that waste both your time and theirs… so be complete in your communication. If you don’t understand something ask the question then be complete in the response…
Now go and be great when handling the customer service on your plate!!