Forbes recently posted an article from Micah Solomon – a customer service consultant and expert, customer experience consultant, speaker and author. A summary of his article on the top tips for customer service is below.
Here are five of my top pieces of customer service expert advice. Paste these to your mirror; work on them daily, and your competitors will never know what hit them.
Top 5 Customer Service Tips
1. Obsess over the beginning and ending of the customer service interaction.
Because of how human memory works, you have to get these moments right if you want your customers to remember their time with you pleasantly.
- Empty that trash bin out front. Touch up that landscaping by the front door. Make it clear where you’re supposed to park your car, or chain your bicycle (not, by default, to the rail of the wheelchair ramp). Have plenty of change ready if customers have to use metered parking.
- Hire nicer people to do your online chats, answer your phone, and handle your email inquiries.
- Make every page (not just the homepage) of your website welcoming, clear, and complete — in mobile and full-sized versions.
- Make sure you’re truly accessible, online and off, to people with disabilities, and to people who just aren’t all that familiar with how you do business.
Note: Not only are beginnings and endings crucial, but they often start before you know it. ‘This principle is exemplified by Disney obsessing not just about how their actual parks look, but about how the surrounding neighborhood looks as well: because the guests’ entrance to “the park experience” starts before the actual entrance.
The same is true—maybe even more so—online: What is their first impression of you online? (It’s probably not your website.) Is there anything you can do to improve this?
2. Do the hustle.
A perfect product, delivered late, feels like a defect. (And the timeline for what customers consider “late” is continually getting shorter.) If you have to be slow, you’d best work hard to re-define expectations or to change the customers’ experience of time.
Turn your round-the-block call waiting into a communal, loyalty-building event, with samples and welcoming words.
On the phone, offer callback times at the customer’s convenience if you can’t answer immediately; Nuance technology, for example, offers this functionality; you may have experienced this option as a passenger if you’ve called Southwest Airlines during a peak period.
3. Offload the transactional–in a way that suits your company’s customer service style.
Customers appreciate it when you streamline or automate transactional details, the things machines can do as well or better than humans.
Be intelligent about doing this, however: certain types of transactional offloading (being forced to check in via kiosk in a five star hotel) may be completely off-brand for what you’re trying to accomplish.
And be gentle: Few customers like to be forced into a particular channel for service.
4. Don’t just be good—be memorably good.
If you don’t create a memorable experience for your customers, your story won’t spread. Customer service is indeed the new marketing, or at least it is an incredibly powerful support that makes your marketing resonate by matching it with the truth of your business.
So don’t only be nice; be nice in a memorable way. Extra nice, quickly nice, authentically nice, even quirkily nice… you get the idea.
5. Learn to apologize.
Things will go wrong. (Things will go right and yet customers will perceive them to be wrong–it’s the same thing.) Prepare for this, emotionally as well as operationally.