As we pursue our goals in customer service, we readily recognise the massive improvements we have had to make over the past few years. Not only have customer expectations become higher and more specific, but the technology that supports it has exponentially developed.
Along with this progress, human interaction has had to keep pace, and the old concepts of ‘be nice, say please and thank you’ are not enough to differentiate your services in the future.
True, the human element is still the biggest component that makes an impression, but it has to be supported by a vigorous uptake of new dimensions in communication and service, or we risk being left behind in the competitive marketplace.
Let’s look at a few skills that are vital for us to develop over time to remind our customers they are doing the right thing in using our services:
1) Recognise people don’t just want service…they want an experience
The expectations of people have grown so quickly that even great service cannot always be guaranteed to keep people loyal. We must accept that people want an experience they can remember and will be willing to pay for it.
Think how your customer service translates into an experience for the customer.
- How do you make it easy for customers to find out about you?
- Are your contact details available wherever people look?
- What are the main touchpoints your prospects encounter when they search for you or your products?
- How easy is the buying and paying processes customers have to go through?
- Do they have to go through lots of hoops to get in contact with you?
- What’s their experience like when they need to complain about something?
These questions and many others like them will determine how customers feel about dealing with you. The customer’s experience will define whether they will remain loyal to you in the future or not.
2) Adaptability and flexibility in customer dealings
Your speed of response will tell the customer what you think about their business. I had a need to contact a well-known satellite TV provider recently and decided to do it via their ‘chat’ facility. After being told they were very busy at the moment and that they would get to me ‘as soon as possible’, I switched off after waiting for over 75 minutes.
We need to accept that customers’ expectations have risen, and we must be flexible and adapt to these specific changes. People aren’t willing to wait for service like they used to. Flexibility involves being alert to the changing needs of people and increasing the speed at which our contacts are delivered.
Without that, people will feel your systems and your cost-savings are more important than they are, and they will vote with their feet.
3) Taking personal responsibility
Among all the technological advancements we are enjoying, the human touch still counts for much, and when we accept personal responsibility for making something happen, we can be richly rewarded as our personality shines through.
To apologise for poor or slow service by saying ‘the computer’s on go-slow today’ or ‘that’s another department’s responsibility, not mine’, says to your customer that your business doesn’t invest in customers, only in systems that are right for you.
When you take personal responsibility for a customer’s needs, it doesn’t mean you have to accept blame or liability…it means you take charge of ensuring the needs of this customer are dealt with in a professional manner.
When transferring a call, for example, you can phone ahead and tell the recipient what the issue is before passing it over.
When dealing with a complaint, you can get the full details and take charge of what will happen next as your progress on the customer journey.
It all adds to the positive experience the customer goes through when they are dealing with your services.
4) Utilise the technology effectively
We’ve never had so much technological assistance in customer service before, so we are obligated to use it in a fashion that makes life easier for us and our customer base.
When we say to a customer that ‘we’ve got a new system, so bear with me’, it means we haven’t practiced using it enough, so it becomes a seamless experience for the customer and you. In fact, to start with, it may slow down your responses.
This decade will bring more and more advancements in technology, so we have to be aware of how it can assist us in the development of customer service, and not see it as something that is simply a cost-saver for our business.
5) Enhanced problem-solving skills
Customer service is simply a matter of problem-solving and making decisions. The customer or prospect has a need or problem and you are there to solve it.
That won’t change in the future. What will change is how the problem is scrutinised and how the answer will help the customer themselves or their business.
Being able to analyse a problem, determine its cause and meaning, and then deal with it appropriately, efficiently and effectively, will make the difference between getting a sale or relinquishing it to another competitor.
Enhancing your problem-solving skills will assist you in many situations, particularly as customer expectations continue to advance.
- It will aid you in determining what customers’ future needs will require from you.
- It will create opportunities for you to develop new products and services for current and future customers.
- It will help you in speeding up your responses to issues and new challenges your customers will be facing in the future.
Look at developing your problem-solving skills in all aspects of your customer services, and you’ll see how your thought processes improve in every aspect of your role in customer service.
These five areas cover just a few of the skills needed to enhance your customer service skills in the new decade. By developing each one effectively, you give yourself the ability to improve in areas that are important to your customers’ experiences and give them reasons to be loyal to you in the future.
Learn more by attending one of our Sales Training Courses.