Any organization that develops and nurtures great customer service skills in its employees will never fall short of happy customers, repeat business, and growing referral revenue. It is therefore extremely important for businesses to invest in developing better customer service skills and make customer service a part of its core business value.
Ironically, most organizations consider customer service as a cost and therefore prioritize sales and marketing over customer service investments. In fact, some companies train their customer service team to be more sales-oriented than service-oriented. Let me share a personal experience to show what I mean. Recently I was on a call with my DevOps service partner in India, trying to understand how to resolve some performance issue on one of our servers. Immediately after I explained the situation to the person on call, I was offered an upgrade plan that would add more server stack and take care of the issue. While I completely understand that adding more server stack will resolve the issue for a while, I am sure that it isn’t the best solution in the long run. If the person on the other side had listened attentively, asked the right questions to dig deeper into the issue, spent the time to explore possible reasons for the issue, and come up with probable fixes before jumping to acquire a bigger share of my wallet, I might have eventually upgraded my service plan too! It was apparent that the customer service team in this particular case is more inclined to up-selling than servicing the customer. I actually believe that great customer service skill is more valuable than great selling skill. In fact, salespeople need good customer service skills to be able to achieve better results in their sales career.
When you serve happily, you get the permission to demand more business from your customers
I still remember my trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka, a couple of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the service quality over there and I had several great experiences to cherish. One in particular that I would like to share. During my stay in Colombo, I had a chance to visit the Barefoot Garden Cafe. The cafe owner was greeting every guest himself and his team of waiters were all cheerful and friendly. The ambiance was just perfect for brunch and the food was nothing less than awesome.
Every request was served with an infectious glee – even my endless stream of questions about what to do and see in Sri Lanka! What I remember most warmly is the waiter genuinely requesting me to visit again when I was leaving. It was apparent that I am a tourist and I might not visit anytime soon. However, this warm gesture was heartfelt and I know for sure that I would visit that cafe whenever I am in Colombo again.
The most critical customer service quality to build in your team is positivity and happiness in serving the customer. This starts with hiring the right person and then building the right environment for your customer service team to stay happy and motivated. It is important for a business to make this investment because when your customers are served happily, they are left feeling better. I strongly recommend putting positivity and happy attitude right at the top of the customer service skill list. Remember that it is easier to sell more to your customers when you’ve served them happily and made them feel better.
Creativity is the customer service skill that you need to be looking for
Most of the customers get weary of communicating the problem across to the customer service department for the popular reasons. One of the most dreaded thought for any customer reaching out to a customer service executive is to be caught in an endless stream of boring repetition of one’s issue. This is such a common customer service experience that almost anyone could relate to it. It’s almost a norm in the customer service world!
Most often this behavior is rooted in the stringent communication compliance requirements imposed on the customer service team by the organization. On the contrary, organizations should encourage creativity as a key customer service skill. Knowing that every customer is different and his issue is unique from his perspective, it is important to let your customer service team handle it without following a strict script.
One such example is shared by a Redditor normanhorn, who had a unique customer service experience, thanks to Netflix. At a time when companies often restrict their customer service executives to stick to a mundane and very formal script, normanhorn definitely did not expect to have a Star-Trek inspired conversation between him and the executive!
This was where it all started…
And this is how it went, ending on such a good note!
We do not know if the issue was resolved. But what we do know is that Netflix has won a customer for life and through him, many more! It doesn’t hurt to have a timely sense of humor, which is the perfect ice-breaker for almost all conversations. This customer executive has set a fine example of how to empathize, not be defensive, and deal creatively with a customer issue.
Hope this inspires you to look for creativity in your next customer service hire.
Is your customer service team willing to go out of the way to help a customer?
One of the greatest customer service skills is the tenacity and willingness to go out of the way to help a customer. Of course, this is more than just a skill; it is a mindset. This mindset is extremely difficult to measure or assess during the recruitment process. A company looking to develop a customer service team that goes out of the way to make a customer happy needs to build a culture of customer centricity. Without that cultural value, it would be impossible to recruit and retain such people.
One of the greatest examples of this is displayed by Nordstrom’s employee Mr. Eric Wilson in the way he retrieved a lost diamond for Mrs. Lisa McIntire Shaw, a regular customer of Nordstrom. You can watch the complete story narrated in this short video:
Eric refused to give up and left no stone unturned when it came to helping a customer. It would have been easier for him to just take note of the incidence in his lost-and-found register and report the same to the store manager. However, that isn’t what Nordstrom stands for and therefore, as a Nordstrom employee, he went out of his way to resolve the customer’s issue.
Source: Nordstrom: Diamond Story
Why is it important to develop great customer service skills?
I believe that any organization that is looking for consistent long-term growth should be working on developing great customer service skills in its employees. Delivering great customer service not only enhances the customer experience but also turns customers into brand advocates. It’s not that companies don’t falter, they absolutely do! But how a company turns around such a situation is what makes a difference.
I remember when I bought my first iPhone in the UK, I was experiencing some heating issue on the phone. I went up to the Apple store and my phone was replaced, no questions asked. That’s what customers love! Accept and own the issue and provide a resolution at the earliest and a resolution that solves the customer’s core issue. Apart from the fact that the heating problem was solved, I was, of course, elated that I got a new iPhone that I could start using within minutes, instead of having to deposit my phone for a few days for that Apple store to diagnose and fix the actual issue. My core issue was a hindrance in using the phone, which was solved immediately with a replacement…BOOM! That’s a delightful customer service.
Investing in developing great customer service skills like the ones specified above also has great ROI. Good customer service experience improves customer retention. In a research paper, Rightnow highlights that 82% of the customers have left a company because of bad customer service experience.