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5 Vital Customer Service Skills

September 13, 2017

If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.

          ~ Jan Carlzon 

 

I once had a supervisor that said, “Customer Loyalty is more important than Customer Satisfaction.”  Well, I believe if you deliver good customer service, you have both Loyalty and Satisfaction.       

 

Having worked in customer service industries my entire life, I have come to truly believe that we all need these skills.  Even if you work alone at home illustrating children’s books, you must secure those jobs.  You aren’t going to get hired if you can’t provide good customer service.  So, here are my 5 top skills that we should consistently be honing to be rock stars at both Loyalty and Satisfaction!

 

Manage your Personal Emotions

 

 

This is #1 for a reason.  This is for all professional people out there – please listen.  We all have issues going on at home, we have a life.  But, if you can compartmentalize your personal feelings and life’s issues, you will be better suited to assist others with their needs that you are there to provide. 

 

If you can master this, it will also help you with managing your emotions when the person you are helping is having their own emotional crisis.  Which will happen.  Whether you are serving lunch at the local diner or closing a loan on a $500,000 home, your customer will have issues.  By not allowing their emotions to become your own, you will be able to solve the problem with a level head. 

 

Have Empathy

 

This piggy backs onto #1.  While you are encouraged to NOT emit your own emotional bias into the situation, it does help to relate to what your customer is feeling.  This is a tricky one as while you develop this skill over time, there can be a tipping point where your ability for empathy starts to wane.  So, keep watch that you are sensing and understanding the emotions of others.  This will build trust and at least make the customer believe they have someone on their side.

 

Somehow, put yourself in their shoes.  Get to know people that are different from you.  Many opportunities for this exist on a daily basis.  From starting a conversation with your cashier at the grocer to having lunch with a different group of people at work.  This will not only open your mind to how different people feel and react, but will polish those interpersonal skills that are ever present in all customer service.

 

Active Listening

 

This is, in a sense, really what the job is all about, right?  If you are too busy following protocol to hear what they are saying, there is no trust.  If you don’t hear what they are saying in terms of sheer facts, you won’t be able to give them a satisfying solution.  If you don’t know what their desires and needs are, you cannot provide them with the right tools.  So, listen up!

 

 

I was once shopping for a new wood burning stove.  I went in to the busiest shop in town and pretty much had an idea of what I wanted.  After telling the sales person – who ended up being the owner – what I wanted, he proceeded to tell me, that “most women really like these models over here.”  Not only did this model have features I didn’t need, but it didn’t have the one feature I really wanted.  But, to be honest, it was really pretty – and more expensive.  After several attempts to tell him what my needs were, I literally walked out.  Not only did I turn my back on him mid-sentence, but I told everyone I saw that day.  Not a great listening moment for him.

 

Appreciation

 

There is so much competition out there.  You need to make sure your customer knows you appreciate them coming to you for their (fill in the blank) needs.  This is where the loyalty comes in.  If you make sure your customer knows you value their business and your value proposition is to go above and beyond for them, they will keep coming back.  Even if you’re a bit more than, say, an online competitor, they will choose you because you value them.

 

Appreciation is such a valuable tool.  I was recently on a trip to Paris and someone asked our Versailles tour guide a question about the French.  Basically, the inquiry was around

 

the French not being friendly or welcoming to visitors, but they (and I agree) found everyone to be quite friendly and helpful.  His answer was so thoughtful.  He related that pre-9/11, the French had an attitude of self-importance.  They thought people would come there regardless of how they were treated because of all that Paris/France had to offer.  So, why go out of our way to speak other languages or provide good service?  Then, the world changed.  Travel literally stopped for months.  French companies went out of business.  When travel/tourism started up again, they realized how much they depended on the business that brought in – on every level.  As a result of them learning to appreciate the tourism industry, we just had an extraordinary trip to Paris, met wonderful French people and have life-long memories.

 

Patience

 

Ah, patience.  Well, besides the FACT that people that practice patience tend to be more happy, healthy and successful, patience is essential to success in all business.  It not only helps you deliver better customer service, but it makes us worse at doing hard things.  Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy?  Well, there are some simple things you can do to help you in situations where you find your patience waning. 

 

My most useful tip – and I find it the easiest – is to start talking about what is positive.  If you are feeling frustrated that the line is moving too slowly, remember how good it is to be standing and do some calf raises!  See, now your are working out.  If the waiter during your lunch break is sooo slow, compliment his watch and see how things turn around.  If a client is just telling you all the reasons why they can’t get you the documents you need, thank them for all they have done so quickly. 

 

Deep breaths always work too!

 

I have barely touched on all the soft skills that customer service requires.  Things like clear communication skills, product knowledge, using positive language, and organizational skills all come into play when mastering the art of customer service.  But, this is a blog post and not an article.  If you have questions about these others, feel free to jot them in the comments and I will answer all of them.

 

The one thing to remember during all customer service interactions though is do you enjoy what you are doing?  If you can finish up your day feeling good about those you have served and the way you did that, that is a win!

 

If you would like consultation on how to help your sales team improve their customer service, reach out to me here.

 

Are you not feeling good when you are done each day?  Find out how to Live Your Purpose.

 

Thank you for reading and, as always, share and comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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