Congratulations! You've just landed a new job in customer service. Ahead of you is an exciting journey on which you'll get to meet and connect with more customers than you ever thought possible.
Along with learning the ins and outs of your company, you will have the chance to help improve the lives of consumers by finding the perfect products or services to satisfy their needs. Rest assured, it would be a lot harder for customers to know what to look for without the guidance of customer service employees.
As great as the job is, it can be difficult at times to engage customers and make them feel heard. So, keep in mind the following tips to ensure that you have the best possible experience in customer service.
12 Customer Service Tips for New Employees
1. Get hands-on experience with all your company's products and services.
Customers can spot a phony a mile off. So, before jumping on your first call, responding to your first email, or diving into a live chat conversation, you want to make sure you actually know what you're talking about. Understanding your company's products or services inside and out is an essential part of being on its customer service team.
Take the time to play around with the products or services. Have other employees teach you the basics and practice performing different tasks. Once you feel like you have a solid grasp on the products or services, you can feel ready to tackle a conversation with a customer. After all, you'd never want to reach out to a customer service employee who has no idea how to address your problem because they don't know the product or service.
2. Make a good first impression.
First impressions truly matter. Whether you're in-person, on the phone, or virtually speaking online, customers will immediately read you. No one wants to be greeted by an employee who's seemingly in a bad mood, right off the bat.
If you're on a call or in-person, strike up a conversation with a cheerful tone and thank them for taking the time to reach out to you. The same goes for virtual conversations; introduce yourself and be genuine. Customers will trust you more if you aren't putting up false pretenses and acting overly formal.
3. Listen carefully to the customer.
After you've made your first impression, give the floor to the customer. Allow them to take as much time as they need to explain why they reached out to you in the first place, without interruption.
Your customer might be explaining a problem they're having that needs to be solved or a specific issue tied to a product or service purchased with your company. Regardless, let them finish speaking before responding. This will show the customer that you genuinely care about understanding their problem and that you aren't trying to rush them out the door. In addition, this will likely give you most of the information you need on the situation before beginning problem-solving.
4. Acknowledge the reality of a customer's problem.
Upon hearing a customer's problem, the last thing the customer wants to hear is you saying, "I understand, but ... " This belittles their situation and makes you look like you're far superior to them. You never want a customer to be made to feel dumb or uninformed.
Rather, restate the problem in your own words, and ask them if you understood them correctly. This will help clarify the problem for you and make your customers happy that you're actively working to satisfy their need. They can then feel confident moving forward with you, knowing you take them seriously and acknowledge that their problem is real.
5. Be clear and polite in your communication.
While you don't want to belittle the customer, you do want to make sure that they're understanding everything you're saying. Thus, when giving a customer steps to follow in solving a problem on their own, go through each step slowly and keep double-checking that they comprehend what you're saying. For instance, say, "Next, you're going to click the Menu bar in the top right corner. It looks like three horizontal lines. Can you see it?" and get a clear "Yes" before moving on.
Use user-friendly language that can be grasped by people of varying levels of expertise. You never know if the customer is brand-new to the product or has been using various versions for decades. That's why it's also important to be polite. Never make assumptions or oversimplify. Hopefully, customers will relay that information to you themselves.
6. ... But still be friendly and conversational.
Yes, you want to be clear, polite, and formal, to an extent. But, you don't want the formality of the conversation to get the best of you. This is when customers start feeling like they're talking to a person reading directly off a script.
As mentioned before, be sure to be genuine. You can still crack jokes and speak in a normal tone. These choices are important for helping a customer loosen up and trust you more. It'll also make every customer interaction easier and more fun for you if you're being more yourself and less of a robot.
7. Use positive language.
There are, unfortunately, times when you must relay bad news to a customer. Whether their product is out-of-stock or all their files have somehow disappeared from their product forever, you're likely dreading admitting what has gone wrong.
Frame the news in a positive light so as to minimize the chance for a customer to blame you and get riled up. For instance, rather than saying, "The product you want is out-of-stock and won't be available for purchase for two months," try saying, "The product you want will be available in just two months. In the meantime, would you like to pre-order it or consider some other options available immediately?" It's harder for a customer to argue with the latter statement.
8. Be persuasive, but don't push.
A big part of every customer service representative's job is persuading customers to make purchases with your company over a competitor. This seems manipulative but isn't. You should believe that its products or services are the best options to improve customers' lives. It can be difficult to know how to be persuasive. By kicking off a real conversation and understanding what the customer wants and values, you can help persuade them to make a purchase to solve their problem.
However, there are times when you must learn to let go. Not every person with whom you interact will make a purchase. Often, you can tell if they're reluctant to make a purchase for reasons out of your control. Never push a customer beyond the point of comfort. Simply, thank them for their time and tell them you hope they'll consider your company for business in the future.
9. Balance time and quality.
Another reason you might have to let go is for the issue of time. Your time -- and that of your customers -- is precious. There's no need to spend hours of your day talking through what each product includes with a single customer.
On the flip side, you also don't want to rush through a customer conversation in order to move on. Take the time you need, without compromising quality. For your customers' sakes, too, you want to be as efficient as possible. Your customers aren't calling because they want to chat with you -- sorry to say it -- but because they have an issue that requires them to take time out of their day to call. So, help them return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.
10. Remain calm in the face of angry customers.
You know they're out there, and many of them will find their way to you: angry customers. Perhaps they're mad that their product or service didn't work as it had claimed. Or, they've had to wait on hold for far too long. Whatever the situation may be, there will be a time when you have to speak with outright rude customers.
The most important thing is to remain calm. Fighting fire with fire will only make the situation worse. After all, according to American Express, angry customers will likely share their negative experiences about 15 people. So, you should try as hard as you can to turn the situation around. Be patient, try to hear what the problem is, and do your best to solve it. Chances are, your calm voice will help calm the customer and end your conversation on a high note.
11. Apologize when necessary.
With any customer -- regardless of how angry they are at you -- there are times when you have to swallow your pride and apologize. You should never apologize for something that isn't your fault; "I'm sorry" is a major customer service phrase to avoid when it carries no real significance.. However, if you happened to relay false information to a customer or promised them a result that didn't occur, it's safe to say the customer deserves an apology.
When apologizing, don't say, "I'm sorry, but…" or "I'm sorry that you feel that way." These statements are shallow and make it clear that you're trying to avert the blame. Apologize directly for the situation and own up to your mistake. It's good to also ask for forgiveness without sounding too personal. A good way to ask forgiveness of a customer is, "I hope we can put this situation behind us and move forward together to help you find the best possible solution to your problem." Your customer will appreciate your apology and will likely want to continue working with you.
12. Let the customer end the conversation.
At what you believe is the end of the conversation with a customer, don't take it upon yourself to close it. You never know if a customer has lingering questions or comments they'd like to share with you.
So, when you've solved the customer's problem, it's best to ask, "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" This puts the ball in the customer's court, allowing them to decide if they need any more service from you. If not, you can happily thank them for their time and for choosing your company and end the conversation.