Knowledge is power. The phrase, first attributed to Sir Francis Bacon in his Meditationes Sacrae, dates all the way back to 1597. And in today’s 21st century, it couldn’t be more true.
Bacon was right…
Thanks to the Digital Era, there’s been a fundamental shift in power from businesses to customers, forcing them to rethink their entire operating business model. It used to be that companies could make business decisions, knowing how customers would respond, but that’s no longer the case.
So how and why do customers now have this thing we call power? It’s simple, really. It’s all about access to information. Thanks to technology, consumers now have the ability to make educated buying decisions about when, where, how, and with whom they spend their hard-earned money. And because that decision is usually backed by thoughtful research, it means that people are placing value on the customer service experience now, more than ever before.
Customer Service Tips
Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and it’s imperative to grasp advanced customer service skills so that you can use them to build better relationships and ensure retention and growth.
There are so many flavors and types of customer service out there—phone, email, chat, face-to-face. While the medium may be different, all channels require similar skills to be successful. Below is a brief, but impactful, customer service skills list that will level up your customer care!
1. Actively Listen
Listening is hard. As humans today, we’re overstimulated by technology and as a result, our average attention span has dropped to a mere 8 seconds.
This not only makes it more difficult to interact with others, but it also limits the level at which we can connect with one another. If we’re not truly listening to what the other person has to say, then how can we help them achieve their goals and solve problems along the way?
Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. It’s easier said than done, but here are a few examples of good customer service skills you can start using to boost your active listening today:
When we interrupt, we’re not listening. And most times, we don’t even realize we’re doing it! Interrupting others is not only rude, but it makes customers feel disrespected and unimportant. Next time you’re talking with someone, challenge yourself to stay quiet. Or, consider confiding in a close friend and having them tell you when you’re interrupting. If you catch yourself interrupting, apologize, and let the speaker finish.
Staying objective can be difficult. We’re emotional creatures, so we have a tendency to fall back on making decisions based on our experiences, feelings, perspectives, and opinions. If a customer comes to you with a problem, refer back to the hard facts. They’re experiencing this pain, so it’s up to you to alleviate it. By staying objective, you’ll make decisions faster and minimize room for error.
Pay attention to non-verbal cues
When you’re interacting with a customer face-to-face, it’s important to pay attention to your non-verbal cues. You want to make a good impression, right? More than half the time, it’s what you don’t say that counts. Pay attention to your body movements, eye contact, posture, tone, and of course—don’t forget to smile!
2. Ask Clarifying Questions
One of my favorite values here at Lessonly is to ask clarifying questions. It’s a phrase we use often, whether in meetings, Slack, or on calls with prospects and customers. You’ll often hear someone say, “Can I ask you a clarifying question? I don’t quite understand what you mean.”
We all have a natural tendency to wait until others raise their hands at the table when we don’t fully understand something—but why is that? Oftentimes it’s our ego getting in the way, or the need for others to think we’re smart.
Being vulnerable is hard, and by asking clarifying questions, you’re communicating to others that you need help understanding them better. This requires a fundamental shift in our thinking to allow ourselves to feel comfortable with not knowing. The more clarifying questions we ask during interactions with customers, the more they’ll be able to relate to you on a human level, and the better you’ll understand their motives. This will not only result in good customer service, but your customers will appreciate you more for it because you’ll be able to better serve them.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When a customer is experiencing inevitable and oftentimes unavoidable pain, it’s up to you to help mitigate that pain. By practicing active listening and asking clarifying questions along the way, empathy will come naturally because you’ll feel more connected to the customer and work through the problem together by seeing it from their perspective.
Long story short
Whether you’re on the phone, talking through chat, or helping someone face-to-face, know that interacting with customers is challenging. But thankfully, it can be rewarding, too, if and when we approach each situation as one where we can practice active listening, question-asking, and empathy! Using these skills to up your game will not only make you grow as a professional, it will help you in your day-to-day life.
Ready to level up your customer service team? Lessonly is, too.
We’re helping hundreds of global teams take their customer service skills training from 0 to 100. Want in? To learn more, take a tour here or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.