Five Customer Service Essentials
Even if you're not looking to become a full-time customer service representative, you may find yourself playing the part at times in your chosen line of work. If you own your own business, for example, you become the customer service representative to your clients, even when you're not selling a tangible good.
The fundamentals of attracting and retaining business all tie in to the same skill set. Whether you're styling hair, offering financial consultation, or selling computers, the way you interact with your clients can be just as important as the quality of your product or service. Here are five essential skills needed for quality customer service:
1. Patience. In an ideal world, people would call companies all the time to say how wonderful their services are and how they can't wait to recommend the business to everyone they know. While this does happen, it is more often the case that people contact companies when a problem has occurred. Knowing how to detach from any anger a customer may be expressing while still acknowledging his or her feelings and cutting to the root of the issue is highly important. In customer service, you can't take a client's negativity personally. Instead, you must remain professional and be patient while the client works through his or her frustration.
2. Active listening. "Active" listening is paying close attention to the person who is speaking and engaging with him or her through eye contact and body language. The listener then repeats in his or her own words what the speaker has said, to allow for maximum clarity and ensure the information is being communicated effectively. Giving verbal cues such as "I hear you" help let your conversation partner know that you are on the same page.
3. Clear speaking. It might go without saying, but the easier your voice is to understand, the better the customer will be able to follow along with you. Enunciating and speaking at a volume that is easy for the listener to process will help you hold his or her attention. Conversely, if you speak too quietly or mumble your words, it can frustrate the customer or make him or her disconnect from you, ultimately hurting your business.
4. Friendliness. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the vibe you give off when dealing with customers is powerful and stays with them. An old saying goes, "People don't remember what you say; they remember how you make them feel." Smiling, maintaining eye contact, and keeping a cool head when others are irritated sends a positive message that your customer will remember later on. Better still, this behavior is often contagious and can help relax the customer if he or she is experiencing tension.
5. Quick thinking. To be able to get problems resolved, you need to have a solid understanding of the product or service you are offering, and the ability to tap into this knowledge quickly. Staying up to date on industry news and company policies gives you a wealth of resources to help solve the problem at hand.
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