There is a well-known adage in sales that it costs you five times as much to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. How you treat your customers determines the likelihood of them returning.
Customer service tends to be focused on external customers, and generally around securing and maintaining business. Whilst external clients are of course important, internal customers should be equally valued. Internal customers are your colleagues, which can include your direct team, other teams in your organization, your board and shareholders. To function effectively as an organisation, it is important to provide good customer service both externally and internally.
To ensure positive relationships with both internal and external customers and clients, here are some tips for improving customer service in your workplace.
Welcome your customers and clients with a warm and sincere greeting but allow them to guide the conversation – are they chatty and inquisitive or straight down to business? Help them feel at ease and welcome by being relaxed and natural.
Avoid complaints about yourself, company, colleagues or suppliers. Negativity is contagious and you want the encounter to be positive.
Ensure you fully understand someone’s needs by listening and empathising. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you can’t help with an enquiry, find somebody who can. People are often happy to wait as long as they are given an indication of the waiting period and feel assured their request is followed up on time.
Deliver on promises
Ensure you can meet delivery dates or respond to enquiries on time. It is preferable to communicate any changes or delays early and keep the customer informed of developments as they arise.
Dealing with complaints
Even the most capable customer service team has to deal with complaints.
The CARP method is a useful four-step system to help you work through a complaint.
- Control the issue by taking on a leadership role: “I can help you with that problem”
- Acknowledge the problem: “I understand it must be a difficult for you”
- Refocus the conversation: “Let’s look at how we can move past this”
- Problem-solve to fix the issue: “I can offer X solution to this problem”
Throughout the process, it’s important to maintain your composure and be respectful.
Always be positive
The language you use makes a difference to how your customer feels about their purchase. “We can’t get that in till next week” is a negative statement; whereas “We can get that in for you next week” is a positive statement. Focussing on the solution rather than the problem helps your customer feel happy and more likely to make a purchase.
If you’re interested in learning more about customer service, Selmar Education Institute offer various courses that can support you – from specific qualifications in customer contact, to leadership and management courses that include units on customer engagement.