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Customer Service 101: 7 Key Tips for Giving Excellent Customer Service

customer service rep on phone

Just how important is good customer service in business dealings?

Consider this: 70% of people say they’ve spent more money to engage in business with a company that delivers superior customer service.

No matter how amazing your product or service may be, no one will buy it if your customer service skills are subpar. If you really want to make a name for yourself, this is one area you can’t afford to take shortcuts.

How can you make the jump from standard to exceptional customer service in your business?

In this customer service 101 post, we’ll reveal seven things you can do to “wow” your customers. Read on to learn more!

1. Start With a Smile

A warm and friendly greeting is your first step to happy customers.

This is obvious when dealing with people face to face, but what about behind the scenes?

Research has proven that people can “hear” a smile in someone’s voice—even if they can’t see them.

Even if you handle most of your customer service interactions over the phone, be sure to smile. Strive for a tone that’s pleasant and personable (without being overly casual).

Remember: customers want to know they’re speaking with a human, not a robot.

2. Know Your Customers

How much do you know about your target audience?

Are they male or female? Older or younger? Married with children or footloose and fancy-free? 

What do they love about your products or company? What’s the best way to communicate with them—via email, phone, or social media?

The more you know and understand your customers, the more you can connect with them on a personal level. If they’re active on social media, respond promptly to any comments or questions.

Also, by studying their past purchases and behaviors, you can better anticipate their future needs.

3. Show Respect and Gratitude

Respect and gratitude are sadly lacking in a lot of today’s interactions.

Make your customers feel special and valued by treating them the way they want to be treated.

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This is especially important in an emotionally heated situation. If a customer becomes belligerent, the worst thing you can do is respond the same way.

Instead, seek ways to defuse the situation. Remain calm and respectful while remembering your end goal—for the customer to walk away happy.

Also, never underestimate the power of a “thank you.” Never miss an opportunity to express sincere gratitude that the customer chose your product or service.

4. (Really) Listen

Listening to your customers involves more than hearing their words.

Effective listening involves understanding the reasons behind those words.

Are they using language or gestures that are passive-aggressive? Is there anything about their posture or facial expression that doesn’t match what they’re saying?

If they’re upset about something, what are they really upset about? The way you respond to a mistake may make more of a difference in retaining the customer than the mistake itself. 

When it’s within your power to do so, go above and beyond. Rather than simply fixing the problem, add a “wow” factor by including something extra too.

You’re more likely to create a loyal customer if you not only meet their expectations but also exceed them.

5. Respond Promptly

To a concerned customer, the worst sound they can hear is silence.

If they’ve emailed your business or left messages—with no response from you—you’re one step closer to losing them for good.

Make it your habit to respond quickly to all emails, calls, and messages. Even something as simple as “We’ll get back to you shortly” will make the customer feel valued and heard.

Sometimes the customer may simply have a question about your product. Other inquiries will require more time and effort on your part to resolve.

Either way, never allow too much time to lapse between communications. There’s also nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know; let me find out,” if it’s the truth.

6. Ask For (And Use) Feedback

Are your customers truly happy with your company?

There’s only one way to find out—you’ve got to ask them.

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Feedback forms, questionnaires, and customer surveys are traditional methods that still work. But don’t forget to ask while you’re face-to-face or during the checkout process.

A customer may be more willing to express concern in person than via a written response. If you receive some feedback that’s surprising (or worse), take immediate action to correct the problem.

It’s also a nice gesture to thank customers who do take the time to send in product feedback. Perhaps you could email them a discount coupon or some other incentive for their next purchase.

If in doubt about how to receive honest feedback from your customers, this guide can help.

7. Treat Your Employees Well

Wait, we’re talking about customers, right? Why did we suddenly switch to employees?

Even if you have customer service reps employed in your company, all your employees play a role in the customer’s experience.

How much training have you given each of your staff members about customer interaction? Do they understand exactly how you want them to speak to and interact with your customers?

Training is important, but it’s up to you to create a positive work environment for your employees. The happier they are at work, the more that positive attitude will come across to your customers.

Think of it as a customer service cycle. The better you treat your employees, the better they’ll treat your customers.

And the better your customers are treated, the more loyal they’ll be to your business.

Customer Service 101: Lessons Learned

So, what’s the takeaway from our customer service 101 lesson?

Superior customer service starts with the right attitude. Take the time to listen to your customers and prove that you sincerely care.

Make sure you’re getting feedback, and respond quickly to any questions or concerns.

And whatever you’re doing, don’t forget to smile!

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