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What is Customer Service?

Customer service is the act of assisting each customer until they are satisfied with their result all while maintaining a friendly and helpful attitude.  Succeeding at this not only meets the customer's needs and solves their problems, but also lets them know that the company and their employees genuinely care about them.  If a customer knows that the company has their best interest in mind, they will feel more inclined to return for repeat business as well as refer others; generating more revenue and income for the company and its employees. Call centers are excellent ways of providing great customer service.

Providing good customer service is the foundation to any company and needs to be treated as such.  It is the manager's responsibility to train each of their employees on providing good customer service and it is then the employee's responsibility to follow through.  Unfortunately, training is not always given or employees don't fully take to heart the importance of customer satisfaction and as a result, many foundations crumble.

To avoid lost sales and a bad reputation, here are five tips that all employees should use when helping customers:

  1. Never miss a phone call!  Every missed call is an angry customer or a lost sale.  If missing a call is unavoidable, make sure that you have a voicemail service like VoiceNation's SimplyONE or NextPBX that will play customized greetings to let your callers know that you are either in a meeting, traveling, on vacation or just unavailable because you are already on the phone.  Most importantly, return your calls as soon as possible.
  2. When handling customer complaints, always be willing to take the blame and apologize.  By admitting that you or the company is at fault, you are validating the customer's right to be mad which helps them calm down and be less defensive.  At the same time, you are showing that you are willing to accept responsibility for the mistake which allows them to forgive and forget much more easily than if you denied any part in the problem and tried to place the blame on someone else or the customer.  Remember, when a customer complains they are giving you a chance to keep them as a customer rather than just canceling their service or returning their product.
  3. Make sure to fix the problem completely within the timeframe promised.  No matter how many times you accept responsibility for a mistake, if the mistake keeps happening or isn't fixed on-time, the customer will view you and the company as incompetent.  Incompetence is rarely tolerated.
  4. If speaking to a customer on the telephone, never put them on hold without first asking their permission.  A simple, "Can you please hold?" before the call is actually placed on hold speaks volumes to customers about how much you care. On-hold music add to the professionalism of your company.  If after two minutes you have not completed the task that is forcing you away from the phone pick up the call, apologize and reassure them that you will have the matter resolved momentarily.  Be sure to ask them if they would like to continue to hold or if they would like you to call them back.
  5. Never tell a customer that something is not your job.  This just tells them that you don't care and that you won't help them.  Since you represent the company, this is not a good way to portray yourself.  Instead, let the customer know that you are not certain of the best solution and that you will locate someone who can better assist.  Then, make sure that the customer is helped, whether that means you bring someone to them directly or that you transfer the call to someone else successfully.

Written by Jacob C. Herman