Expert View

Seven pointers for acing customer service

08 March 2019

Mosart Khanim, Suresite’s card services manager, believes that if you get the customer service right, the sales will follow. But what does customer service excellence look like? And how does a business begin to develop it? Here are her seven top tips for providing tip top customer service.

1) When it comes to training, don’t stop at coaching your customer service team – customer service is a whole business issue.When you start to think of all stakeholders – both internal and external – as customers, you realise that every employee could benefit from spending time thinking about how they can offer better customer service.

2) Go incognito and experience first hand your competitors’ customer service offer. How does it feel to deal with them? What are they doing well? And what are they not so hot at? Carefully analyse how it feels to be a customer or potential customer of theirs and see what you can learn from it.

3) Understand the difference between customer service and customer experience. I like to explain this using a doughnut analogy.  Customer service is a doughnut, which is great, because people like doughnuts. But customer experience is even better, because it is tailor made. Not everyone wants sprinkles on their doughnut, as colourful as they are. Some people like salted caramel on top, whilst others would prefer chocolate custard inside, or raspberry jam. Customer experience refers to a customer ultimately getting what they want, and not just what you want to give them.

4) The old adage ‘you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole’ has never rung more true than when you’re talking about customer services personnel. Customer service excellence can be trained, but only when your starting point is the right person. In order to give great service, people have to really care about what others think and to take pride in providing a first class experience. When building a customer services team, look beyond CV credentials and recruit for personality and behaviour.

5) Never stop communicating – and that means both conveying information to your customers and listening their responses. In my experience, 90 percent of customer complaints relate to things the company hasn’t been explicit about, for example a price rise or service interruption. Attempting to brush an issue under the carpet is never the right way to go. Always keep the customer informed about any changes to your service offer.

6) Treat any customers complaints you do encounter as free feedback. Yes, it can be disparaging to be on the receiving end of an ear-bashing or apoplectic email. But be grateful that the customer has chosen to share their displeasure with you, allowing you to solve their problem and potentially improve service for all customers. The other possible outcome is worse, that is if they just choose to close their account and take their business elsewhere.

7) The customer is most definitely always right. Well, 95 percent of the time they are. But in the other five percent of situations, they truly believe they are right. Calmly explain to them not that they are wrong, but that they have the wrong information. There’s a very important difference. I believe that if a business doesn’t respect that its customers are right, this will be its downfall.

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