An interesting (and unfortunate) thing happened in the customer service world last week. Apparently instead of leaving a tip after dining at a St. Louis Applebee’s restaurant, a pastor left a note on the receipt for his waitress. It read: I give God 10%, why do you get 18?
I have my own, personal feelings about his actions, but we’ll save those for another post. People come up with all kinds of reasons not to leave tips when going to places that “require” them. They range from I just didn’t have the money, which I believe means you shouldn’t have ordered the service(s) from the beginning, to the host/hostess, cashier, attendant, waiter/waitress and so on and so forth was rude, incompetent, disrespectful and, well…. you get the idea.
Customer service is extremely important in most businesses and organizations because in one capacity or another, we are here to serve. Whether the company offers a specific service, such as technology consulting, or distributes a particular product, e.g. HR software, the distribution of goods and services only takes place to meet the needs of whom? The customer.
Now, we’ve all experienced poor customer service, and remember how you felt during that experience? Did you leave feeling satisfied and that your needs were met efficiently and promptly, or did you have such an unpleasant experience that you vowed to never use/go to that company again?
Remembering your poor customer service run-ins will help you in your own line of work because your goal, as a provider, should be to never allow your customers and/or clients to experience what you did. While working you want to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what you would and would not like when it comes to dealing with a company or organization. And the following are five areas that will help you do just that:
The greeting is the first interaction a customer has with a service provider. Sometimes people don’t even receive one; so, first things first, always make sure you greet your customers and/or clients. Whether it’s an email, over the phone or in person, how you greet a customer matters because it can set the tone for the entire interaction. Ensure that you’re pleasant, welcoming and always have on smile. Aside from email communications, a smile will come out in your tone over the phone and is very inviting when face-to-face.
As they say, attitude is everything. Be cheerful, upbeat, watch your tone of voice and convey the message that you’re interested in providing exceptional customer service. No one wants to interact with someone who is rude, disrespectful and/or seems uninterested or unhappy about his/her job. Even via email, watch exclamation points and caps as those can be associated with shouting or negative tones.
In a customer service position, your end goal is to adequately serve the customer and ensure all his/her needs are met. Review their orders and/or requests and, once they are fulfilled, be sure to check back with the customer to make sure they’re pleased with your service. If for some reason you are unable to meet a need, do everything in your power to make sure the customer leaves happy and satisfied, even if it’s not from your specific company or establishment.
How did you end the interaction? Always ensure a customer’s final moments with you leave a good, lasting impression. Just like your greeting, your closing is just as important to ensure superb customer service. Never leave anything open-ended or finish on the wrong foot. You want to make sure any and all discrepancies are cleared up and that the customer was left 100 percent satisfied with your entire service and interaction with him/her.
If possible, see how the customer’s experience was and ask for feedback for what you can do better next time. Sometimes this isn’t always possible, but in business settings (especially with regular clients) making the habit to regularly follow up with your customers will help highlight your strengths and weaknesses, which will inevitably improve your customer service skills.