Cheat Sheet

Customer Service For Dummies

Of course, you want to keep your business focused on customer satisfaction! People have different approaches to dealing with clients and customers, define your own style and you can better serve both customers and co-workers — and improve sales. Managers have special communications issues to figure out, but every employee should know some do's and don'ts that relate to customer-service e-mails.

How to Become a Customer-Centric Company

Committing to the customer is the way to build (and keep) your loyal customer base. Becoming customer-centric in all areas of your business requires focus, effort, and action in the following areas:

  • Take a top-down approach as a manager by practicing what you preach in the arena of quality service.

  • Ask for feedback and use it by regularly surveying your customers and staff.

  • Train and educate all your staff members and managers in service excellence and teach them the skills they need to be part of a customer-centric company.

  • Design customer-centric processes and technologies that focus on the customer’s convenience rather than on your own.

  • Set consistent service standards that are measurable and specific, and spell out the actions that express the service qualities you value.

  • Reward and recognize service excellence in both formal and informal ways. Remember, what gets rewarded is what gets done!

Addressing Customers Service Issues with E-mail

In the business world today, many customer service issues are handled by e-mail. To make sure your emails are professional and well-written, use these helpful tips:

  • Use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

  • Avoid obscure acronyms, such as RTM (read the manual).

  • Maintain a pleasant tone.

  • Always include a salutation and sign-off.

  • Provide a clear subject line.

  • Don’t “yell” at the reader by writing words and sentences in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

  • Make your request clear.

  • Provide sufficient background information.

  • Use emoticons (also known as smileys) appropriately and sparingly.

Working Styles of Customer Service

Your working style describes how you generally approach and deal with people and work situations. Study these four primary working styles to better understand your customers and co-workers:

  • Driven: This person focuses on bottom line results and wants tasks done how they want them done, when they want them done, and with as few errors as possible.

  • Analytical: This person wants to know the facts, is less interested in a co-worker’s feelings, and looks at the world through a veil of logic and details.

  • Expressive: This person is enthusiastic and fun-loving, likes to be around people, and puts into motion the ideas they like now and worries about details later.

  • Amiable: To this person, feelings are more important than tasks. They take time to decide and don’t like to be pressured. They’re usually on the quiet side.

For Managers: Coaching Customer Service

To keep a high-level of commitment to great customer service, your staff needs constant support. Use these lessons as manager when you hold a staff meeting to get started:

  • Brainstorming. Pick a subject that all participants can relate to and discuss without falling into the trap of judging or evaluating what your staff members say.

  • Problem solving. Spend some time defining the problem. The more specific the problem description, the easier it is to settle on a solution.

  • Creating service enhancers. This meeting helps look closely at key customer moments of truth. It helps identify in what way those moments could be enhanced and then comes up with a plan for implementation.

  • Planning service recovery. By discussing predictable service failures and coming up with viable and agreed upon service initiative practices, staff members feel supported and encouraged to go the extra step with customers.

  • Listen and learn sessions. This meeting can be a challenge for many managers because it requires that you ask your staff service-delivery questions while listening to the feedback without arguing or defending your point of view.

Connecting Sales and Customer Service

Sales and service departments usually exist separately in companies, but from a customer service perspective the two are inseparable. So your customer believes you’re sincerely trying to serve them, employ these techniques:

  • Get the customer’s attention. It may be hard for you to believe, but your customers don’t always pay a whole lot of attention to what you say, so it’s a good idea to begin a sales conversation by saying something that grabs your customer’s attention.

  • Ask questions. Open-ended questions are the best for beginning a conversation and priming the pump for a productive interaction. When conversations wander off into unrelated waters you can lasso them back on track by asking closed-ended questions.

  • Make benefit statements. Don’t get too hung up with the features of your product or service because it’s the benefits that really have an impact on whether your customers buy.

  • Backtrack. This technique lets the customer know that you’ve heard what they’ve said and gives you the opportunity to make sure you’ve understood them correctly.

  • Bridge. Use this technique for politely steering the sales conversation in the direction you want it to go, while retaining good rapport. Bridging has three parts:

    • Wait for the customer to take a breath.

    • Show empathy.

    • Redirect the conversation.

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