Customer service is a fundamental part of any business. Businesses should always be improving customer service skills to ensure they are delivering the best experience to customers.
There are a number of ways to improve these skills. Hiring the right people and supplying them with the right knowledge is a good start.
We’ll give you all the tips you need to improve customer service skills in your team.
Why is customer service important?
Customer service is a direct line of communication between your customers and your business. Depending on that line of communication experience it can make or break your business.
Great customer service can retain customers, recoup customer acquisitions, build brand loyalty and increase sales.
Bad customer service can ruin a reputation causing a ripple effect on all your business efforts. Customer service is a fundamental part of any great business.
5 Tips for improving customer service team
Here are 5 tips for improving your team’s customer service skills so you can achieve better results.
1. Improve skills
It’s important your existing or future customer service reps have the necessary skills to manage all customer interactions from polite, angry, sad or confused.
Exceptional customer service reps need to have empathy, patience and adaptability. Customers can enquire about all sorts of issues.
It’s the rep’s job to listen clearly and identify the problem, then give a solution.
Empathy is a key quality because they need to care for them. They need to be able to understand the customer’s problems and want to help them solve their issues.
Patience is our next key skill. It can take time to listen to customers’ issues, questions, or concerns.
Trying to end the conversation as quickly as possible, will be a bad experience for the customers. A good service rep will ensure they take the time needed to help customers.
Adaptability is our last key step. Customer service teams have to deal with a lot of different situations.
For the most part, they are at the forefront of any business. Adapting to each new interaction for a customer service rep is an important skill to have.
2. Improve knowledge
A good customer service agent knows everything about the product or service. And if they don’t know they are willing to find out.
A rep that knows everything about the product or service will outperform someone with less knowledge each time.
By being informed with the right information they can have better conversations with customers.
For example, a new Walmart retail employee will not perform well in a store if they don’t know the layout.
If a customer came in and asked for directions on sportswear and the retail employee didn’t know. It leaves them with two options.
The first one is to guess where the sportswear is and the second option is simply to say they don’t know.
For the customer, this either causes frustration if they are led to the wrong area or it can lead to a longer delay.
Now, if a customer came in and again asked the service rep where sportswear is and they were given clear instructions, they will most likely walk away feeling satisfied.
Even question yourself about this situation, how would you feel? Knowledge is power and this should start with management and training.
Management should train new employees on the product or service so the have the tools to deliver better results.
3. Improve communication
Good employees with the right skill set and knowledge will be able to perform the customer service role well, but they still need to be willing on improving their communication skills.
4 parts of excellent customer service representatives are making common ground, active listening, admitting mistakes, and following up.
Making common ground with a customer builds better rapport. You’re more likely to listen from someone you connect with.
Common ground in a customer service setting could be related to the weather, the product they’re looking at, or anything else that breaks down those barriers between customer service rep and customer.
Active listening is another key way to improve communication. Customers want to be heard.
Simply rephrasing the customer’s questions, or even referring to their feelings can go a long way toward being heard.
Admitting mistakes is a communication skill that not a lot of people talk about. As a customer service agent, you may get something wrong and that’s okay, as long as you admit to your mistake.
Customers will appreciate the honesty about the mistake, regardless of if they know you have made one or not.
A long with admitting mistakes is admitting when you don’t have the answer. The same benefits apply. Simply saying, “I don’t know, but I can find out for you”, will create a good customer relationship.
Following up after each question, concern or complaint ensures the customer has been helped.
Following up could be an email, phone call, or even immediately clarifying after you have helped the customer. It’s a powerful way to deliver on everything you helped the customer with.
4. Improve feedback
Getting customer feedback is a good way to improve customer service. Customers can give you an accurate picture of how your business is seen and how your team interacts with them.
Feedback can also allow you to make changes if needed. The biggest problem with the feedback is setting up a system in place.
Leaving a suggestion box at the front desk or having a prompt online asking for feedback can work for getting insights from your customers, but they lack engagement and are usually at the wrong part of their journey.
Implementing a quick survey at the end of a call or message can help customers engage with the survey right away.
Customer engagement can do a lot more than help with feedback. It can be an important strategy within your business. Find out with our “How to improve customer engagement” article.
Even a quick phone call or follow-up email asking about their recent experience is another great way to assess customer service.
The key to asking for feedback is getting customers engaged in the feedback. We mentioned the suggestion box is a bad idea because it singles out the customer and that suggestion box is usually in the eyesight of employees.
Giving customers an easy way to offer feedback will guarantee you get success with this skill.
5. Improve customer service strategy
Everything we’ve talked about is important in improving customer service, but they all have to fall back on something and that is the customer strategy.
Setting a proper customer strategy will outline everything we’ve talked about above. You’ll be able to be proactive before customers even come to your reps.
A good customer strategy will be able to provide an understanding of customers’ needs, behaviours and values across all of your business cycles from start to finish.
Some indicators that provide a successful customer strategy is being personal, availability, and community.
Personalization within your business means your changing the customer experience based on who they are.
Customers that have personalized interactions are more likely to have a better experience and buy more from businesses.
The other side of personalization is giving them a real experience. Automated voice mails, chats, or emails don’t create a relationship. We create relationships with real people.
Offer the same to your customers by giving them a connected experience. What exactly can look this look like? Breadstack offers a free demo that can help you improve your personalization within your business.
Also, check out our article around personalization – “Define Personalization: How to use it in marketing“.
Being available when your customers need you will give them a sense of compassion. What do we mean by this?
If you’re customers likely work 9-5 you need to have a team in place that works outside of those areas.
If you have an issue where customers usually ask for help, implement changes to fix the solution, or offer guides and how-tos. Be there to support them on their time.
Community is becoming more important than ever before to customers. A successful customer strategy has a community portion implemented.
A community creates a sense of belonging and it creates customer loyalty. With 1000s of competitors in each industry by building a community, you’ll have loyal customers that stick with you.
A great example of this is Starbucks. Most cities have a lot of different coffee shops, so how do coffee consumers choose one coffee shop out of thousands?
They choose the ones they are loyal too. Starbucks brand has created a strong community base with the customer service guidelines they follow and their rewards program.
It keeps people coming back to buy coffee, but it also leaves a positive impression on customers.
For more tips around community and team management, read our article “What is team management?“
Customer service with Breadstack
Improving customer service skills can go a long way toward the success of the business. You’ll have better customer relationships which can lead to loyalty and higher sales.
Employees will also see the benefits of improving their skillset. They’ll have the necessary tools to succeed in their job and make a difference in each customer interaction.
The next step in improving customer service can be introducing customer service software that can help streamline the process making it easier for your customers and your employees.
Breadstack’s unified commerce platform features a customer service module that engages, delights and converts with every conversation.
Implement better customer service practices and connect with your customers the right way. We offer live chat, personalization and customer management to help you excel in your business.