“We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”
– Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com
Customer Service offers a new appreciation for having two ears. The ability to hear is not to be neglected as it is our best tool of the trade. This allows us to better manage each conversation. It also allows for positioning of ourselves to potentially turn around every single difficult conversation.
Here are 5 steps to delivering the best to each customer. This is within your control. The rest is up to the customer as to what they will do with your offered service.
Before you speak, allow the customer to share the purpose of their contact. They are the ones reaching out for help. Often times, they may not know exactly how to ask for that help and our role is to guide them through that process. This piece I call the listening engagement, and involves more speaking by the customer and more listening by us. We are not listening to respond but to identify the concern, which brings us to the next step.
2. Identify the Real Concern
In listening, note key words that are coming out in the conversation. Warning: some of those words aren’t nice and it is often easy to take them a little personal. However, it is important that we keep ourselves out of the issue so as to get a better understanding on what their real concern is.
So if a customer says, “Your Company is the worst. They are not concerned about their customers”. We can then say, “I hear you. Is it okay if I work with you to understand your concern to better assist you?” Customer, “How are you going to do that?” Customer Service, “Well, please share with me the challenge you are currently experiencing. I’d be happy to listen and when I have a clear understanding, work with you to get to a resolve. Is that okay with you?”
How did that feel? Customers like to feel they are in control. They also have a very high expectation of companies. Some of them might be realistic while others may not. That is beside the point which brings us to the next step.
3. Address the Concern
After listening and taking note of the concern, it is then your opportunity to now steer the conversation. A key piece here is building a rapport with the customer and gaining their trust. Yes, that can be a little challenging but if it is not challenging there is no fun. So guide and have fun with it then get ready to solve.
4. Keep the Focus to Solve
As a guide, it is important that you always bring it back to centre. This is key as customers will often think you are not answering their question the way they would like. If it means that you step back for a bit, do so and allow them to talk. However, always bring it back to the concern. Get their agreement that the concern identified is in fact the concern. If not, then take the step back to reengage in the real concern (Step 2).
5. Redirect to Solve
The ultimate is providing a mutual solution. While this is not always possible, it is essential to note that you explore all possible solutions which includes redirecting. This is not limited to you directly solving but providing alternatives for the customer to indirectly solve their own concern. Yes, getting the customer buy in can be a little challenging. However, it’s no fun if there is no challenge, right?
Embrace the opportunity to remove yourself from the equation and place the customer at the fore front. They will thank you at the end. If they don’t they are simply ungrateful and that is not on you. So be grateful for the opportunity to serve and then move to the next one that will gladly receive the amazing service you have to offer.
Remember you are a Customer Service expert, and as such you serve customers by providing answers to their questions and guidance on what they can do now and for the future. Was I able to answer your questions today?
If your organization is striving towards a Customer Service model, here are 10 tips incorporated by Zappos.com Inc. to consider:
Top 10 Ways to Instill Customer Service into Your Company
- Make customer service a priority for the whole company, not just a department. A customer service attitude needs to come from the top.
- Make WOW a verb that is part of your company’s everyday vocabulary.
- Empower and trust your customer service reps. Trust that they want to provide great service….because they actually do. Escalations to a supervisor should be rare.
- Realise that it’s ok to fire customers who are insatiable or abuse your employees.
- Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to upsell, and don’t use scripts.
- Don’t hide your 1-800 number. It’s a message not just to your customers, but to your employees as well.
- View each call as an investment in building a customer service brand, not as an expense you’re seeking to minimize.
- Have the entire company celebrate great service. Tell stories of WOW experiences to everyone in the company.
- Find and hire people who are already passionate about customer service.
- Give great service to everyone: customers, employees, and vendors
Delivering Happiness” A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.com, Inc. Page 147
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephen Peart is the author of Released Expressions – the journey begins a book of poetry and three collections of poetry, including the forthcoming Defining Moments. He is the founder of Released Expressions Media and a Business Process Practitioner focused on inspiring change and connecting perspectives.
If you’d like to learn how to start your journey into releasing your own expressions and to increase your creative awareness, consider joining us by simply sharing your story. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.releasedexpressions.com.