Thinking of ways to view problems as opportunities requires the recognition that the problems that are being addressed are originating from customers. Customers are interested in arriving at a solution which involves the interaction with your customer service representative. The interaction should be viewed as a customer service opportunity to provide excellent service.
A customer service representative should use the same positive attitude when encountering a conflict as they would any other customer. This approach reduces the temptation to respond defensively. Important skills and guidelines to follow when encountering conflict are:
· Listening actively
· Not appearing distracted
· Showing empathy
· Keeping an open mind
· Showing patience
· Not arguing
· Asking questions
· Remaining calm
· Acting proactively
· Identifying and confronting underlying issues immediately
· Clarifying communication
· Focusing on resolution efforts
· Following established procedures
Use active listening skills while avoiding distractions while providing service. Stop talking, listen carefully and tune out external obstacles such as ringing phones or speaker announcements as to not appear distracted. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes by showing empathy. Keep an open mind when dealing with a customer by being objective, prepared and focused. Don’t appear pushy; allow the customer to make a buying decision showing patience. Avoid the impulse to argue if you do not agree with the customer’s assertion or comments. When you argue you become a part of the problem. By asking open ended questions to your customer you can clearly define the customer’s needs and wants. Remain calm if you feel your customer might walk, consider getting an objective third party or another co-worker to arbitrate the situation. Act proactively by approaching each situation which can lead to a win/win situation. Use verbal and non-verbal techniques when approaching or dealing with customers. Remember to confront issues immediately when dealing with a problem situation. Failing to acknowledge and confront issues will cause the situation to escalate eventually. Make sure that communication between you and customer are clear. Clarifying communication is necessary to avoid errors when dealing with customers. When a customer service problem arises avoid finger pointing and blaming others. Concentrate on arriving at an amiable solution to satisfy the customer’s needs. Finally, make sure that all established procedures are followed are in line with your company rules and policies.
An action plan for making customer’s number one utilizes the following strategies:
1. Making positive contact
2. Establishing rapport
3. Identifying and satisfying customer needs quickly
4. Exceeding expectations
5. Following up
6. Encouraging customers to return
Greeting the customer at your contact points with a professional personal and friendly salutation is imperative in making a positive initial contact. Your customer will expect no less and respond reciprocally.
Establishing rapport with your customers on a personal level by using their name or initiating a non-business professional topic will develop a kinship connection. Your customer will respond proactively when he/she has encountered a problem. Your customer will be less likely to leave negative feedback to your organization and will increase the likeliness of having your customer return.
Identifying and satisfying customer needs quickly by engaging your interpersonal relationship skills will allow customers to feel confident in your ability to satisfy his/her needs. Your customer will be less likely to turn to another competing organization. You can expect your customer to be more loyal to your business if this strategy is employed.
Exceeding customer expectations in a highly competitive business environment could include starting a customer service loyalty card program. This could be initiated by issuing award cards to customers that could electronically track purchases and offer discounts or freebies after spending a certain amount. For example; Qdoba Mexican Grill has an awards program using loyalty cards and the customer’s response is an increase of returning customers to achieve the awards that the cards offer. King Soopers has a similar program that rewards customers with a discount on their gas purchases with the use of the loyalty cards.
Following up on a client after a purchase could include mailing out a survey or by simply handing a buyer a customer satisfaction survey. This action allows your customer to know that you are interested in how they feel about their experience at your company. Emails to a patron informing them that you appreciate their business while inviting them back to your store will provide positive encouragement so that they are a returning customer. This also provides you an opportunity to thank them again for their business and letting them know that you appreciate them. Your customer will feel valued and will most likely return .A sincere thank you goes a long way.
Closing the sale with a customer provides the service representative the opportunity to ask the customer last minute questions to make sure their needs are met and it allows you to ask your customer to return to your establishment. Making your customer feel like royalty while interacting with them while they are leaving and making sure their needs are met will encourage them to return to you as a customer.