6 Key Skills to Improve Customer Service Experiences (Part 2)
Empathy, Personal Organization, & Salescraft
Last week, we covered the first three key skills to improve customer experience. This week we’ll finish off with the remaining three (which is why the countdown starts at 4!). What we are trying to accomplish here is to give all customer service representatives a deeper understanding of the skills and top tips we’re always talking about, hopefully, these 6 skills help!
Part 2 of 6 Key Skills to Improve Customer Service Experiences
I know, I know, we’ve covered this one in the past, but that’s how important this is: if you can’t empathize with your customer, or at least keep an open mind to what they’re saying, you’re not going to get far if you want to improve customer service experiences.
Empathy is tricky because it may not be something that comes naturally to us all. I suppose it’s more of a character trait than an actual skill; that said, it’s something that can be learned, emulated, and improved. On top of that, it’s a critical tool to improve customer service experiences.
Why is it so important? If you can’t tell what a customer is really looking for, the ability to put yourself into their shoes and really trying to understand where they’re coming from can soothe even the most savage beast.
This is now more important than ever because we’re no longer always dealing with our customers face-to-face. With the onslaught of technology we now have to navigate through confusing messaging systems, chatbots, email, and a host of other systems. This makes our lives as customer service representatives more complicated because it’s hard to construe the real emotion behind a few lines of text in a message. For example, in Malaysia (and I suspect it might be the way in several other countries), people have a very simple form of indicating that they have read and received an email, message, or other communique: ‘Noted’. Your message might go something like this:
You: Hi! I’m looking to book a ticket for tomorrow’s event.
Them: Hi! Nice to hear from you. I would be happy to take your booking.
Booking details, confirmed, eTicket sent
You: Thanks, I’m very excited. I saw on your website that I need to inform you if I have any dietary requirements.
Them: Yes please.
You: I’m vegetarian. Please let the caterer know.
You: Thank you.
If you weren’t accustomed to this kind of exchange, it might really annoy you that all you got back on your dietary needs was ‘Noted’. I know a couple of expatriate friends living in Malaysia for whom ‘noted’ sends them through the roof – to them, it’s the ‘lazy’ response. It’s not meant that way at all, of course, but the cultural differences between my friend’s and the country means that this could lead to friction if neither parties are keyed into each other’s needs. Now, the ‘noted’ example is a communication issue, to be sure, but it’s easily avoided and worked around if you have the empathic grounding to know how to respond to a message.
5. Personal Organization
Personal organization is a surefire way to improve customer service experiences. “How?” you ask? Simple. If you’re an organized individual, you’re going to be that much less frazzled, less stressed, and you’ll beam confidence. Who doesn’t like a well-situated, confident person? Confidence in yourself inspires confidence in those around you, including your customers.
Personal organization is all about managing your time efficiently, setting priorities and goals, and knowing when you’ve got too much on your plate. Being organized, particularly when it comes to your professional life, allows you to put the right foot forward; it’s a little hard to help customers to the best of your abilities if you’ve just been scolded by your boss for not meeting a deadline or arriving late for the umpteenth time.
It’s also better for your customers if you know exactly when and where you’re meeting them and what you talked about with them last. The best CRM tool in the world is only as good at the people who use it! If you’ve covered points with your customer on a potential sale and you’re meeting them again later, it’s important you remember what you talked about, particularly if you’ve done so face-to-face rather than by trackable correspondence like email or instant messenger.
Furthermore, if you know when you’re supposed to be somewhere at a certain time – and you know how to get there – it’s always a good idea to get there 15 minutes early or so. That gives you time to get settled, and means no rushing! It also shows the customer that you’re respectful of their time – you’re not making them wait – and you’re genuinely interested in their business. Nothing shows lack of interest, lack of professionalism, and disrespect as making people wait or wonder if you’re going to be on time.
Okay, so we would be remiss if we left out some hardcore sales skills out of this. To improve customer service experiences, you will obviously need to know how to make sure a customer actually makes a purchase. After all, that’s kind of the point of the bottom line right? To accomplish this you’ll need to be able to persuade your customer – keeping in mind what’s in their best interests! – and close the sale.
A good salesperson is a perfect balance between tenacious and laid-back: they know when to push their customer and when to stand back and wait. This is a skill honed by experience – though again, some people just have that gift of being able to read people really well. Knowing when to wait and when to push is key to salescraft, and, consequently one of the keys to improve customer service experiences. Why? Any salesperson with some experience will tell you that there’s no quicker way to lose a customer if you push them when you should wait, or wait when you should push. So hone your salescraft, and learn!
And that concludes our 6 Key Skills to Improve Customer Service Experiences!