For a business to thrive, it needs customers. Not only that, but companies must retain customers while pursuing new ones to grow. The only way to do that is to provide customer service that is superior to the competition.
As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure your employees have the necessary skills to provide this level of service customers have come to expect. However, the owner also needs to have the same skillsets. They aren’t only for your customer’s benefit but also your employees since many of these traits are good bosses.
You must acquire and perfect a long list of skills as the owner to provide excellent customer service, and we’ll touch on those a bit later. Before we dive into our customer service skills list, we’d like to discuss the most important customer service skill you can have as a business owner.
Hearing and understanding what your customers are trying to communicate to you is perhaps the most crucial customer service skill a business owner can have. Active listening lies at the root of almost every other customer service skill. When the customer reaches to be heard, for whatever reason, the business must fully process what they’re saying and why. The quickest way to lose a customer is to make them feel like they aren’t being heard.
Communication is the foundation on which business (and any) relationships are built. Listening is the first act in healthy communication. Actively listening means that you let the other person say what’s on their mind, then you restate their issue or concern in a way that they know you heard them. Here’s an example.
Customer: “I bought this widget only two weeks ago, and now it doesn’t do X.”
Customer Service: “I’m so sorry to hear your widget isn’t doing X. Can I ask when you first noticed this issue and if there was anything else out of the ordinary about your widget?”
The above response by the customer service representative lets the customer know they’ve been heard. If you noticed, another customer service skill is being utilized in the above dialogue, empathy.
It’s essential to relate to how the customer feels in any scenario where they think they need to express their displeasure (or pleasure) with a company. After all, customer service isn’t just about fielding complaints. Sometimes customers reach out to businesses to thank them. Either way, it’s crucial to understand how the customer feels and respond appropriately.
An excellent way to do this is to try and think about good (or bad) customer service you had personally experienced and remember how it made you feel. Take those feelings into your customer interactions, remember that the customer is probably feeling the same way, and try to give them a better experience than you had. Two other critical customer service skills that go hand-in-hand with empathy are friendliness and patience.
Friendliness and Patience
Let’s be honest. Regularly dealing with customer complaints and concerns can be taxing. It’s vital that throughout your dealings with customers that you maintain a friendly demeanor and be patient, no matter how insignificant the customer’s problem may seem to be. Using positive language and asking customers to elaborate on their concerns, rather than simply trying to end the conversation, are ways to practice and improve friendliness and patience.
The main goal of customer service is to solve problems. We all know that every customer’s situation is unique in some way. Business owners and customer service agents aren’t always going to be able to solve problems in a scripted manner. Sometimes it involves thinking on your feet and using creative thinking to get the job done.
As we mentioned, active listening is the first step in communication; however, it’s just one component. Being able to express yourself clearly to the customer and in a way they understand is crucial to being able to solve their problems. This means always speaking in a professional, respectful tone.
The unfortunate truth is that that, for whatever reason, some customers don’t want their problems resolved, no matter how hard you may try. People often try to take advantage of an issue they experienced with a particular business to try and get things for free. At the end of the day, you’ve got a business to run. You can’t bend to every unreasonable customer demand to make them happy. At some point, you must stand your ground and accept that the customer’s issue cannot be resolved, even if it means losing that particular customer.
Excellent customer service is vital to developing a successful business. The first and most essential customer service skill every business owner should possess is active listening. Active listening sets the stage for every other customer service skill like empathy, friendliness, patience, clear communication, and having thick skin.
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