customer service

The British are known to be a nation of complainers. If something is not right, we will say so but is the customer always right? What is good customer service? It seems you can’t even get petrol these days without having to fill out a customer satisfaction survey but is this the best way to ensure that customer’s needs are being met? How can large organisations ensure the same standard of customer service throughout? These are difficult questions to answer, if they were simple, customer complaints would be rare. A good place to start, when looking for a solution, is with staff.

Having the right people in the right roles is essential, so this really starts with the recruitment process. It is evident however that there is a big difference between how people view their employment; some might see it as a career and others as just a job. It can be difficult to separate the former from the latter, particularly at the interview stage or early stages of employment, so what should employers be looking for? Many job advertisements list a ‘can do attitude’ as an essential quality for an employee to have. This can be taken in the literal sense of ‘sure, I can do that’, or it can be taken much further by the right employee.

Good customer service is a phrase you will often hear, but think about the last transaction you partook in as a customer. Was the service good? Or was it satisfactory? Did it fulfil the necessary criteria or did the transaction go above and beyond your expectations? There is a difference between functional and exceptional service. There are some industries that provide necessary services, like getting petrol for example; you get it because you need it and as long as you continue to do so, you will continue to get it. But what if there was a provider that gave you more bang for your buck? What if there was a provider that gave you a free car wash or coffee with your petrol? Alongside a welcoming smile and a friendly greeting? I know where I would go and this is where the ‘can do attitude’ comes in, particularly when dealing with a complaint.

A complaint occurs when the customer is dissatisfied. For whatever reason, they have had a bad experience. A satisfactory response is to resolve the issue, in the form of a refund or perhaps an exchange, but those employees with a real ‘can do’ attitude have the ability to go further and turn a negative experience into a positive one. This starts with the understanding that the customer’s experience is paramount, that they are the focus and this should come first above all else. Secondly, the employee should ask themselves, or even better ask the customer, ‘what can I do to make you happy about this situation?’ These are the two corner stones of excellent customer service and should be what all employees who interact with the public should be aiming for. A transaction with a customer can go one of three ways; you can lose their custom, retain their custom, or increase their custom and gain other custom through their recommendation.

In an ideal world, every customer would go home happy, but how do you deal with an aggressive customer? Or a customer that makes outlandish demands? Or a customer that makes it personal? The key is effective communication, which comprises a variety of elements including active listening, body language, facial expressions and intonation. These are qualities that generally develop with experience, so how can you ensure that the newest member of your team is as adept at handling tricky customers as your most experienced member?

C-Live is an online, interactive role play tool that enables people to practice, pause and perfect their skills in a safe environment. The team work closely with their clients to recreate simulations that mirror those that the employee may encounter in the work place. The programme offers real time interaction, which is especially useful for training staff for dealing with customers and situations that are very emotionally charged. This enables staff to gain experience in this field, without putting the reputation of the company at risk.

So, what is good customer service? It starts and ends with people, a good positive interaction, where the customer’s needs are prioritised and the service provider goes above and beyond to exceed customer’s expectations.