When you consider the term customer, for most customer service jobs you immediately think customer service outsourcing, someone external to a business that pays for goods or services. However, many recruitment blogs often overlook that customer service skills include internal responsibilities.
One thing I always try to instil in the teams that I manage is maintaining high-quality customer service. Simply providing good customer service is no longer enough. Today you have to be exceptional.
When you consider the term customer, for most customer service jobs you immediately think customer service outsourcing, someone external to a business that pays for goods or services. However, many recruitment blogs often overlook that customer service skills include internal responsibilities. I always encourage my teams to think of the people they support internally within the business as customers too, their customers. They may not be paying you for your help directly, but they are expecting a service from you, and it matters just as much.
Consistently providing high-quality customer service goes a long way not just for business management solutions. It also helps promote and maintain your personal brand internally (whether that is your own individually, or your team collectively) and keeps everyone happy.
Here are five things that I believe can take the level of service you provide within your business up a few notches.
1. Listen to what the customer wants, and then deliver what they need
The secret to being an excellent customer service representative is knowing your audience. The better you understand what the customer wants and why the easier it is to deliver something that will solve their problem. In my experience, a customer will sometimes have no idea what they need, but will know what they want...and what they want isn’t always going to help them.
Let’s say an employee asks for a report; they tell you specifically what information they want to see and tell you when they need it by; you can follow their instructions to the letter and give them exactly what they asked for, but doing so isn’t necessarily adding value. Taking a little time to question what they want to get out of the report and why you’ll be able to deliver above and beyond their expectations and leave them with something that helps them achieve the desired result.
2. Involve the customer in the decision-making process
Being an expert in your field, you are the go-to person when a problem needs a solution. Moreover, customers will be looking to you to make the best decisions. While it’s true that some people won’t care how you provide them with what they need, so long as it works, I’ve found that the majority want to feel like they’ve been included in the process and had some input along the way.
Imagine you’ve been asked to implement a new product that integrates with an existing one, but there are several decisions to be made regarding how it’s going to work. In your expert opinion, there’s only one way that ticks all the boxes. Yet, rolling this out without running it past the customer first can cause them to feel left out and will make getting their buy-in harder. A good customer service representative will explain the various available options and why you plan to do it that way.
3. Don’t hide behind an email, get up and go see the person you want to talk to
If you're about time management tips, this one is a great take-away. Emails are fantastic, but why waste time emailing back and forth when you can do it face to face. Not to mention, social media is having a detrimental effect on our ability to communicate verbally (you don’t get away that easily Zuckerberg and Dorsey!). So much so that face-to-face communication is becoming increasingly outside of the comfort zone for many people. Now, this might sound strange coming from someone who has used technology to build their career, but I am a firm believer in conversing offline as much as possible.
More and more people in the workplace are content to sit behind a computer screen and send an email instead of speaking directly with the person they need to. Unless sending an email is completely unavoidable, get up and go and see the person, or at the very least, pick up the telephone and have a good old-fashioned chat with them! You will get your answers a lot quicker and will become more productive as a result. The fluidity of a verbal conversation can also lead you to discuss other aspects of the topic you might otherwise have ignored and will help you maintain those all-important working relationships. It just goes to show there's a reason why some of the best customer service skills are the old-fashioned ones. If you do need to keep a record of what you agree (action points, etc.) follow up with an email afterwards to summarise.
4. Always keep the customer informed and updated throughout the process
Communication is paramount! So, you’ve received an email asking for something from you, you’ve sat with the customer and scoped out the details, and you’ve agreed on a deadline. When do you next speak to the customer? When the task is complete? That might be several days/weeks away. When you run into a problem? They might not be available, and that could delay things. Another of my time management tips: You should be communicating with the customer regularly throughout the entire lifecycle of the task.
One of the things you should be doing is agreeing on how often, and through what medium, you will provide them with updates to keep them informed as to the progress of things. If the customer says that they’re happy to hear from you when things are complete, then that’s fine. However, from experience, I’ve found that any deadline less than a week away, it’s good to get in touch with them halfway through. If the deadline is several weeks away, then weekly updates do the job. There are three aims here. First is to make sure the customer is always fully aware of the status of things, second is to highlight any potential issues that arise, and the third is to ensure things stay on track and the customer’s original requirements haven’t changed. Managing to sustain this process is what makes for truly high-quality customer service.
5. Follow up to make sure the customer is still happy with everything you delivered
Delivering what was agreed upon makes for good customer service, but aftercare makes exceptional quality customer service. It’s always good practice to follow-ups afterwards to ensure that the customer is happy and that there is no additional work wanted. Honestly, this is common for most business tips you come across. As a rule of thumb, I would suggest getting in touch with them around a week post-completion; any sooner and they may not have had enough time to use it, any later and things get forgotten. And to reiterate point number 3 above, do this in person!
Customer service jobs are not exclusively digital simply because we live in a world of AI. Proactively approaching the customer instead of waiting for them to come to you, shows that you care about the job you’ve done and you’re invested in not only doing the best you can but also in making sure they have the tools to do their best too. After all, we’re all working towards the same goal. It can also help avoid having a disgruntled customer on your hands if something doesn’t work the way they expect it to.
There you have it, my 5 business tips that can help you deliver the best customer service possible to your colleagues. If you’re not already doing these things, give them a go, and be sure to let me know how you get on.