Co-authored by Neill Gibson.
Do you want to increase profits dramatically? One of the best ways to do this is to focus your attention on your current customer satisfaction and good customer service skills. Profitable businesses don't just rely on attracting new customers, they work at encouraging existing customers to buy again and to provide positive word-of-mouth advertising to their friends. This can only happen when employees learn leading edge customer relationship management skills. Read on to discover the three most common customer service mistakes as well as how to handle them before they occur.
Lately, it seems like walking into any business and getting even decent service-such as a simple smile or a "How are you?" is a cause for celebration. We actually found ourselves thanking a hostess at a restaurant for her pleasant manner. "Customer Service" is one of the most overused phrases in business, and it's fast becoming an oxymoron. You can advertise heavily and cut prices to entice new customers, but unless you persuade some of those customers to return, your business won't remain cost-effective for long.
Three Employee Mistakes and Their Remedies
Mistake #1--Thinking Customer Dissatisfaction is a Problem to Be Avoided.
Many employees have an unfounded belief that dissatisfied customers are a problem. Because this kind of thinking is typical, when a customer approaches with a dissatisfaction or a problem, many employees will get nervous, defensive, and confused about what to do.
Managing customer complaints with grace is vital to the overall stability of the company and its profitable growth. It requires that your employees develop customer service skills that identify both the root of the problem as well as value-based customer solutions.
The very first step is to offer employees a new perspective, one that welcomes customer dissatisfaction. It should be clearly explained to them that all customer complaints offer a golden opportunity to interact with the customer and enhance customer satisfaction.
Action tip: Do some in-house role-playing with your employees. Have one of them act as the employee with the other taking the part of the customer. Give them an opportunity to practice handling dissatisfied customers.
Mistake #2--Wanting To Be Right
We've all been raised in a society where being right is practically a necessity, if not just clearly more preferable to being wrong. In fact, the need to be right has almost become a knee-jerk reaction when we are confronted by someone with an opinion that is different from our own. We immediately begin to look for evidence that proves how we are right and the other person is wrong. When your employee unconsciously reacts this way to your customer, the result is a serious breakdown in your Customer Service process that can easily lead to the loss of a customer for good.
To begin with, it's critical that your employees know that your top priority is customer satisfaction. This may sound ridiculously simple and you may think that it goes without saying, but very often what we think should be obvious to the most casual observer, in many cases, is not clear at all.
Action tip: A good way to start getting the message out is to post signs around your place of business reminding everyone that customer satisfaction is top priority.
Mistake #3--The Belief that it's "Just a Job"
Very often people work at a job when they have no understanding as to why they're there, beyond the need to pay their bills. This lack of connection to what's important to them about their job creates an "I just work here--they're not my customer." mindset.
If Customer Service is any contact (whether active or passive) between a customer and a company that significantly affects the perception of that company by a customer, it is essential for your employees to see themselves as an integral part of the company.
Encourage employees to identify what they personally value in their lives and at their job. This discovery process will give them an opportunity to see their job as something that is personally important to them, and not simply as a way to pay their bills. This process will also help decrease your employee turnover and increase job satisfaction.
Action tip: Have each employee participate in a "values exercise" and then identify at least one way in which their job supports what they value.
Beth Banning and Neill Gibson are Inter-personal relationship experts and the founders of Focused Attention. Their mission is to provide effective self help and personal development tools, and the skills to use them well.
Full Author Profile -->