When you give a high level of customer service quality, your customers will appreciate you more. But when you give lousy service, your customers can be a pain in the neck.
The flip side is also true about customer service quality. If you are an appreciative and considerate customer, service providers will tend to serve you better. If you rant and rave and pound the table, people serve you grudgingly, if at all.
Great training programs (like “UP Your Service College”®) can help create better customer service providers. But there’s little training on how you can be a better customer!
Here’s a list of tips I use to be a better customer and to enjoy receiving better customer service quality:
1. Always be appreciative and polite. Remember, there is a fellow human being on the other end of your telephone call, e-mail message or just across the counter. I begin the service interaction with a quick comment: “Hi. Thank you for helping me. I really appreciate it.” (This takes about two seconds and can really improve customer service quality.)
2. Get the service provider’s name, and then use it to boost customer service quality. I make it short and friendly by asking, “Who am I speaking with please?” or if we are face-to-face, simply “May I know your name?” Once they tell me, I repeat it with a smile on my face and in my voice. “Hello (name here). My name is Ron.” This creates a personal connection. (It takes about four seconds and will improve customer service quality.)
3. Be “UP” in your own energy (if you can). Many service providers face customer after customer … all day long. The routine can be a drag. When one customer appears with a genuine smile and positive energy to spare, he or she stands out for special care and treatment. You can be that special customer. Let your enthusiasm be contagious.
4. Give your details the way your service provider asks for them. Every service professional has a preferred way of gathering data that fits their forms, computer screen or procedures. Have all your information ready to go, but give it in the order he or she prefers to bolster customer service quality.
Simply say, “I have my name, customer number, invoice number, telephone, address and product details ready. Which would you like first?” This lets the service provider know you are prepared and efficient to work with. They appreciate that and can show their appreciation through better service rendered to you. (The time you take getting everything in order will save you even more time once you are in the service conversation.)
5. Check each step along the way. Simply repeat or paraphrase what the service provider states or promises to do. This allows you to progress together step-by-step through the service process and catch any questions or misunderstandings early on. Small changes can be made quickly and more easily as you go along, than if you wait until everything has been concluded.
6. Confirm next steps. Be sure you understand what will happen next: what they will do, what you should do and what you can both expect from each other. Confirm dates, times, amounts, promises, responsibilities and obligations. Write down whatever you agree on, and ask that a confirmation be sent to you by e-mail, hard copy or fax. When the confirmation arrives, check it carefully to ensure everything is written as agreed.
7. If appropriate, commiserate with the service provider. Some people can’t help letting their frustration show. They may be upset by a previous customer or by some aspect of their work: a slow computer, high call volume, overwhelming response, pressure from managers or even personal events at home.
When you hear a word or tone of upset from your service provider, be the one to soothe them. I simply say, “Sorry to hear things are a bit frustrating for you,” and then I repeat, “I really appreciate your help.” This is so powerful for improving customer service quality! After empathizing with their frustration, I’ve had service providers go an extra hundred miles to ensure my service experience had no frustration at all.
8. Finally, show real appreciation to improve customer service quality. A warm “thank you” over the phone or in person is always appropriate. If your service provider deserves more, give more. A nicely written compliment to the organization can make a huge difference in someone’s day, or in their career.
And who knows? The one you praise may serve you again another day with the same pleasure, efficiency and delight.
Key Learning Point About Customer Service Quality
Service is a two-way street. The traffic of goodwill flows equally between customers and service providers. Don’t wait for someone else to make your day. Be the customer who shines with preparation and appreciation. The customer service quality you receive will be the reward you deserve.
Action Steps To Improve Customer Service Quality
The next time you need service, bring the best of yourself to the interaction. If you want good things to come to you, start the ball rolling by extending goodwill to others. How you behave can impact customer service quality greatly.
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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpliftingService.com.
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