OK, why would the boss leave this article on my desk? I am not customer service, I am operations; I am not customer service, I am maintenance; I am not customer service, I am accounting. Perhaps he or she is trying to tell you the entire organization is customer service.
Whenever we provide anyone associated with the organization, whether internally or externally, some form of communication, we are engaging in customer service.
No one is asking you to be a servant to anyone else; they are simply asking you to be of service to others. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Everyone has the power of greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.”
Any time an interaction occurs between two individuals, whether inside our organization or outside, whether it is a vendor, a supplier, or a direct paying customer, we should all think about how we can be of service. In reality, we would desire them to be of service to us. Let’s take a look at what I consider the 10 Commandments of Customer Service.
1. Never stop smiling on the phone, in an email, or in person. Whatever your primary method of customer contact is, there should be a smile contained in it. I ask you, is it possible to smile in an email, or on the phone, as you would when you greet your customer face to face? Of course it is! Think about it; everyone wants to do business with pleasant people; most customers will respond positively, thereby opening the door to turn the task into a relationship.
2. Acknowledge every person who walks through the door, calls, emails, or communicates with you in any way. Not only is this both a display of professionalism and good manners but it communicates to the customer that they are “in and on your radar”. This proves especially beneficial in situations of peak traffic where the customer may need to wait for service. This technique diffuses the impatience of waiting because you have let them know you are aware and that you care.
3. If at all possible erase the words “no,” “I don’t know,” and “We can’t do that” from your vocabulary. Replace them with “Let me find that out for you,” “Please allow me to check into that for you, I may have a better suggestion,” or, “I am happy to find someone who can answer that for you.” When you cannot offer what the customer needs, present alternatives. At all costs, do not leave them hanging with the question unanswered or the issue unresolved. By sticking with them and following through, you gain their respect and their trust.
4. State your name when answering customer service calls. Identifying yourself sends a clear message that you possess a service attitude, and adds immediate friendliness as well as professionalism to the conversation. It also prevents the other party from thinking you may not have any desire to assist them and that may well be why you have not offered your name.
5. None of us are fortunate enough to have customers that never have a problem! Most issues can be moved forward to a resolution by beginning with a sincere “Please accept my apology.” No one will appreciate you making excuses, and at this point they are irrelevant; what is relevant is diffusing the customer’s dissatisfaction, positioning them to be receptive to your potential solutions. Some people are reluctant to apologize, especially if they were not the one to cause the problem. It is important to remember this is not a personal issue; it is your job to develop skills to turn negative situations into positive ones. In addition to apologizing for the service failure, it is important to acknowledge that the company has let them down by saying “We have obviously not met your expectations.”
6. The most important word in the English language to most people is the sound of their own name. Get to know your customers, call them by name whenever possible. Most of us have experienced the heartwarming feeling of someone we do not know well calling us by name. It leaves us feeling comfortable and with a desire to return at a future time. This is a key element in establishing long-term customer relationships and loyalty and changes a cold task to a warm sincere transaction.
Practicing internal customer service can benefit your career
In addition to my editorial duties with AMT magazine, I have also taken over as editor for another magazine here at CygnusÂ -- Light Truck and SUV.Â This month I am working on a cover story on the...