Kantor column: Attending to the details of customer service

Columnist Jan Kantor

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Columnist Jan Kantor

There is an old saying in business that if you do not take care of your customers then someone else will. One of the things you need to remember about customer service is that it is the details which will allow you to stand out from your competition.

Any company can set up a bank of phones and put trained customer service associates on those phones. But if you want to help your customer service efforts to yield real results, then you need to be aware of the details that go into creating the ideal customer service experience.

"Please" and "Thank You"

There is nothing corny about being courteous when you are on the phone with a client. There is no better way to diffuse a potentially bad situation than by being professional with a client right from the start. Train your customer service representatives to use professional language and always be courteous.

It is also true that a smile can be heard over the phone. Your customer service associates stand a better chance of calming an angry customer by keeping their professional demeanor than by trying to use confrontation.

Comprehensive training

Companies that are not attending to the details of their customer service department do not offer comprehensive training. It is not enough to put your customer service representatives in a conference room and read the customer service employee manual to them. Your customer service training needs to be comprehensive and interactive to be effective. Your customer service representatives must know their job thoroughly before you allow them to get on the phones or meet with customers.

Make sure that new hires spend time listening to calls handled by experienced representatives before allowing the new hires to answer calls of their own and "shadow" experienced employees.

Customer details

Some companies get so caught up in trying to avoid losing money through returns that they forget to add the personal touch to their customer service functions. A good customer management software system will allow your representatives to put details about each customer into the database that other customer service representatives can use when that customer calls in or visits again. Showing your customers that you are paying attention to their needs by recalling details of their last customer service interaction impresses customers and encourages customer loyalty.

Avoid overuse of technology

When customers want to place an order for product, they often do not mind using an automated system to get the process done quickly. When customers have a customer service issue, the last thing they want to deal with is an automated system. Make sure that all of your customer service phone calls are answered by your customer service representatives and also be sure that your customer service phones and the department itself are manned by qualified staff members.

Have real managers

When a customer service issue needs to be sent up to a manager, the worst thing you can do is insult a customer by not having a manager or supervisor on duty. Customers feel like they are getting results when their important customer service issue can be sent to a supervisor or manager that has the authority to make decisions and get results.

Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.

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