Your recruiters are probably great at recruiting; your sales reps are probably great at selling.  Your accounting manager is probably great at, well, accounting.

But all of them need to be great at customer service!  The vast majority of your staff interacts with clients in one way or another, so it’s important to train everyone in the fundamentals.  Here are 10 quick tips that will turn your employees into customer service rock stars:

On the phone…

  • Mirror your customers.  Establish instant rapport by matching your caller’s tone and emotion.  If a client or candidate is yelling, this doesn’t mean you should literally yell back.  You should, however, adjust your initial volume or intensity temporarily to convey that you understand the seriousness of the matter, and then quickly dial that intensity back.
  • Don’t rush things.  Give your customer adequate time to vent if he needs to.  Although you may understand the key issue right away, allow him to completely express himself before moving forward.
  • Reflect and acknowledge.  Once your customer has had is say, check your understanding by summarizing what he has told you in a supportive way.  This step demonstrates that you’ve been listening and that you accept the legitimacy of his issue.
  • Limit hold time.  If you must put a customer on hold, ask for permission first – and never leave him on hold for more than two minutes.  When you anticipate things may take longer than that, offer to call the customer back.  Otherwise, you may inadvertently heighten his frustration level.

Using email, chat sessions or other digital communications…

  • Use your writing skills.  When handling service-related issues, err on the side of professionalism.  Write clearly and  precisely, maintaining a friendly yet direct demeanor.
  • Use your phone skills.  Inject your written communications with personality by using conversational writing skills: “smiling,” mirroring, acknowledging, summarizing, etc.  The customer may be reading your words, but he should feel like you’re speaking directly to him.
  • Put the effort in.  Pre-written templates can be extremely helpful and save you a ton of time – but don’t use them as a service crutch.  Personalize each response you send to your customers, so they feel like real people – not support tickets or invoices.
  • Don’t make assumptions.  Written communications lack the immediacy and depth of communication phone conversations possess.  If a client’s problem is unclear, don’t jump to conclusions.  Ask respectful probing questions to get all the information you need.

Tips for social media customer service…

  • Promptly acknowledge.  Timeliness is critical with social media.  Get back in touch with customers who Tweet or post as quickly as possible (think minutes – not hours) and publicly acknowledge that you’re following up with them.  If it’s a simple issue you can resolve right then and there, do so!  For more complex situations, provide a time frame for the solution whenever possible.
  • Publicly thank.  Once you’ve resolved the problem, return to the channel used.  Thank the customer and restate the solution you delivered.

No matter who, when or how, these quick customer service tips will help close the service loop – by keeping customers informed, solving their problems, ensuring their satisfaction and delivering shareworthy service every time.
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