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Customer service skills: how to improve them

With most businesses being a click away from their competitors, offering great customer service can help you to rise above the smoke. But what customer service skills do you need and how can you improve them.

1. Be empathetic

When you show your customers that you truly care about how they feel about something then you can build rapport which in turn builds trust. Customers like to feel valued and will become return customers if they know you truly care about them.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. You can develop empathy by looking at the problem from your customer’s viewpoint. You should also check your attitude and any bias you might have towards other people.

Another area to practise is active listening. We hear what people say but do we listen to the words they say and also look at their body language to get more clues about what they are saying. You should also ask your customers to define what success will look like in a particular situation.

2. Have clarity in your communication

 Being able to clearly communicate your ideas and solution is critical for business. It is important to keep it simple and to use language which makes sure there will be no misunderstandings.

You should also make sure you send messages which are complete. If you are inviting someone to a meeting you should say what the meeting is about, what time it will be, how long it will be and if the people who are attending need to bring anything with them.

Lastly, watch out for negative questions. They can cause confusion and lots of back and forth communication. It is better to reframe a negative question as a positive one. For example, you could say “You don’t have the last operating system installed?” and if your customer answers “yes” it will be unclear if they mean yes it is installed or yes, it is not installed. Therefore it is better to say “You have the latest operating system installed, correct?”

3. Use positive language

Many people react better to bad news being given to them positively. It is better to say to your customers “the item is out of stock but would you like me to pre-order it for you and you will get it in 4 weeks” then saying “No it is out of stock. We will only have stock in 4 weeks.” In the first sentence, you are giving your customers a solution to a potential problem they may have. You can learn more about positive language here.

4. Have excellent product knowledge

It is critical that your staff are the gurus of the products which you sell. They should know what items you have available and the benefits which they offer your client. By have a thorough knowledge of the product, you will instil trust with your customer and you will be able to cross-sell and upsell to your customer. If your suppliers offer workshops, you should send your employees to them to learn more about the product. You should also offer in-house training where people can share their knowledge about the product with the other members of staff in your office.

5. Learn how to manage conflict

When dealing with people, you will definitely get to a point where you may need to deal with conflict. It is important to know how to deal with conflict appropriately. Here are some steps:

  • Learn to stay calm under pressure. It is important to remain calm during a conflict situation.
  • Speak slowly and calmly with a low tone of voice as this will help to dissipate the tension.
  • Learn how to manage your anger.

By improving these five customer service skills, you will be well on your way to outshining your competition.

You can learn more about how to deal with upset customers here.

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