Customer Service Skills: Qualities, Maximize Satisfaction, Telephone Etiquette

  • Post last modified:15 January 2022
  • Reading time:17 mins read

What are Customer Service Skills?

Customer satisfaction is an important aspect of any organization. Hence only giving good customer service would not make or break customers, but to retain customers for long term business profit for an organization it is equally important to know customers problems and solve their complaints in a professional and effective manner.

This article explains all the do and don’ts of customer handling to achieve high-quality customer service.


Who are Your Customers?

Customers, buyers and clients want to pay a fair price for quality service or products and feel satisfied they have paid for a service/product and received what they have paid for in return. They also want someone to take care of them. They need someone to understand their needs and help answer them. They need someone to hold their hands and walk them through a process.

Customer service starts with the ability to listen to the customer and find out through polite questioning what he/s he needs or wants. Customer service and contact with a client mean that the customer will be heard and his/her problems will not go unanswered or ignored. It also means getting to know your client, his/her likes-dislikes, ideas, background, etc

The other most important aspect to do is to listen to what the customer is saying. If people do not understand what is motivating the customer, they will not be successful in handling them. Do research on customers, their habits, and what they want and expect.

Most customer service is defined by how a company or organization treats “external customers,” but there is “internal customer service” as well. While this manual mainly addresses“external customers,” expanding your definition of customer service to include co-workers will lead toward even greater success.


Professional Qualities in Customer Service

Professionals who constantly deal with customers (inside and outside the company) need to strive for certain qualities to help them answer customer needs. The professional qualities of customer service to be emphasized always relate to what the customer wants.

After years of polling and market research, it turns out customers are constantly internalizing their customer service experience. What this means is they are grading your customer service during each transaction but you rarely know it. While there is a multitude of customer needs, six basics need to stand out:

  1. Friendliness: The most basic and associated with courtesy and politeness.

  2. Empathy: The customer needs to know that the service provider appreciates their wantsand circumstances.

  3. Fairness: The customer wants to feel they receive adequate attention and reasonableanswers.

  4. Control: The customer wants to feel his/her wants and input has influence on theoutcome.

  5. Information: Customers want to know about products and services but in a pertinent andtime-sensitive manner.

It is also very important for customer service employees to have information about their product or service. Service providers who answer, “I don’t know” or “It is not my department” are automatically demeaned and demoted in the mind of the customer. These employees can end up feeling hostile as well as unequipped. Customers want information, and they disrespect and distrust the person who is supposed to have information but does not.


Maximize Customer Satisfaction

It is clear that just looking good will not produce the desired level of maximize customer satisfaction:

  1. Smiling
  2. Eye Contact
  3. How You Look
  4. Shaking Hands
  5. Be Attentive
  6. Tone of Voice
  7. Hand Gestures
  8. Personal Space
  9. Posture
  10. Observation

Smiling

There is nothing like a smile and pleasant face to greet a customer, especially if he/she has a complaint. A smile and polite conversation can immediately disarm a disgruntled customer. Facial expression sets a positive tone before you even begin speaking. A relaxed or pleasant facial expression is the ideal most of the time.

Eye Contact

always look into your customer’s eyes. Directly address customers.

How You Look

Personal grooming has a big impact on your customers. Dirty hands, messy hair and poor dress can mean the loss of an otherwise happy customer. When interacting with customers, dress neatly and in a professional manner so as to command respect and to let customers know you take seriously your position.

Shaking Hands

When shaking hands with a customer a firm and professional handshake is expected. This part of the greeting is now common among both men and women in a professional environment.

Be Attentive

When listening to a customer, slightly lean towards your customer and nod your head ever so slightly to indicate you are listening.

Tone of Voice

Always convey friendliness and amicability. Do not raise your voice in frustration or anger no matter how difficult or tiresome a customer may behave.

Hand Gestures

Use hand movements to emphasize what you say (even on the phone) and to emphasize your feelings.

Personal Space

This is the distance that feels comfortable between you and another person. If another person approaches you and invades your personal space, you automatically move back without thought. You are uncomfortable. Leave adequate distance between you and your customer. Adequate space is important to make customers feel secure and unthreatened.

Posture

Slumping in a chair or leaning against a wall while interacting with a customer are sure signs you are not interested in the customer. Your pose or posture should express attention, friendliness, and openness. Lean forward, face the customer and nod to let them know you are interested.

Observation

Notice how your customer behaves and what he/she reacts positively to while you are providing service. Hence, the little, interpersonal actions noted above mean a great deal in the area of customer relations. They can change customer perceptions and ultimately affect the success of your customer relations efforts.


Telephone Etiquette

Telephone etiquette, unlike more varying body language, can be uniform and is not culturally biased. The telephone is often the first or last place a customer comes in contact with an organization or company. Being telephone friendly is one of the least expensive and cost-effective ways to deliver better customer service:

  1. Answering the Telephone
  2. Troubleshooting
  3. Transferring a Call
  4. Taking a Message
  5. Ending the Call
  6. So What is Prompt Answering Your Business Email?
  7. Respond to Your Business Email Quickly
  8. Making a Good First Impression

Answering the Telephone

How a company answers the phone can tell the whole story of how they treat customers and employees. The correct phrase said in the right order in a positive tone leaves a good impression and starts the customer-client relationship off on the right foot. Pick up the phone in three rings. More than three rings signals chaos in your office or inattentiveness on the part of your company or organization.

Greet the caller, e.g. “hello”, “good morning”. Good manners show you respect the caller. Give your name, e.g., “Hi, my name is Emma”. This is a courtesy that serves to personalize the customer service experience as well as allow the customer to hold you accountable for your level of service. He/she now has a point of reference and someone to contact when he/she calls back.

Ask the customer if or how you can help. Asking to help tells the customer you are there to serve his/her needs and to solve his/her problems. This also leaves the customer with a positive impression. Put it all together and you have a good example.

Troubleshooting

Some things which may upset a customer are simply unavoidable. Here are some tips on how to best handle these situations. “Putting a Customer on Hold” Ask the customer if you can put them on hold; wait for them to say “yes” or “no” and then explain it will only be for a short period of time. Explain to customers why you are putting them on hold. Thank customers for holding.

Transferring a Call

Ask the customer if they mind being transferred; wait for them to say “yes” or “no” and explain why they are being transferred and to whom.

Taking a Message

Explain your co-worker’s absence in a positive light but do not be too specific. Explain that your co-worker is in a meeting, conference, briefing, or training. Do not say he or she is gravely ill, is too hungover to come to work, never called in today, can’t be found, that you do not know where he or she is, or that he or she “was just here”. Give a reasonable estimate of when the co-worker will return.

Offer to help the caller, take a message or transfer to another staff member. If a co-worker is on holiday and will not return to the office for some time, it is permissible to say that he or she is on holiday. However, avoid details such as, “Raymond is at the beach and I am sure he is having a great time.” While such details may seem innocuous and even humorous, they give the wrong impression to those seeking service.

Ending the Call

This is the final step in good telephone etiquette. A good customer service representative ends the call on a positive note, repeating any actions agreed to be taken and what is going to be done to help or serve the customer.

So What is Prompt Answering Your Business Email?

Business email should be answered within 24 hours max. No exceptions. At that rate, you’re doing a lot better than a lot of other businesses. If you really want your customer service to shine, you should consider answering your business email twice a day at a 12-hour interval. It is even better to check out your direct competition by sending them an e-mail as if you are a potential customer.

Send them more than once on several days. Especially check out Mondays, Fridays and weekends. Track the time it’s taking them to answer, and implement a procedure to beat them at the business email game. OK, I understand that for small businesses, resources are limited.

But your stream of business email is most likely to be a lot less than for big guns. And if you check and answer e-mail regularly, number of e-mails to answer are usually very easy to handle.

Respond to Your Business Email Quickly

Answering your business email promptly should be a priority for all businesses. Not only is e-mail an important communication line with your customers, but it is also often used by them to gauge that you trustworthy. If a customer sends you an e-mail with a simple question, and you take forever to answer it, what does that say about the rest of your operation?

Making a Good First Impression

Every salesperson in every business knows the importance of making a positive first impression. Salespeople know their success and livelihood will depend on how their potential customer perceives them in the first 30 seconds of interaction. Good salespeople develop an almost instantaneous rapport with potential customers. Customers like them, follow their advice and then buy their product.

The reality is that we prefer doing business with those we like and trust. Impressions are the key to developing trust and confidence in the customer. As the old saying goes, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is why the first impression is extremely important and can set the tone for all future transactions.


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