5 Time-Honored Tips on Providing Superior Customer Service - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

You probably have had a negative experience with customer service at some point. Negative customer service experiences leave you with the wrong impression of the company and the customer service representative. Providing superior customer service is a way to keep your customers happy, ensuring they return to your business in the future. Keep the following tips in mind to give your customers an experience they will remember positively.

Use Active Listening

While listening to your customers goes a long way, using active listening makes your customers feel like you hear what they are saying. Repeat, paraphrase, or reflect on what your customers are saying to make sure that you understand.

For example, you can say, “I hear you are very frustrated because your order was not correct.” This lets the customer know you understand his or her problem and you are not giving canned answers. Make sure your body language conveys attention, and whenever possible, stop what you are doing to give your customer full attention.

Show Customer Respect

Address your customers by “ma’am,” “sir,” or their last names until they permit you to address them by another name. Be polite, use “please” and “thank you” often, and speak to the customer using professional language instead of slang. If the customer is angry, never raise your voice, use sarcasm, or swear at the customer. Do not argue, and keep your behavior professional at all times.

Be Proactive

Much of what you do with a customer is reactive; you respond to the customer’s requests and needs. However, a superior customer service agent is also proactive. Identify those things that the customer may need, or solve problems before they happen.

For example, if you are looking at a customer’s account and you noticed he ordered 10,000 cases of tongue depressors, it is proactive to verify if he wanted one example of 10,000 tongue depressors instead. An active customer service agent can fix problems before the customer gets angry.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Keep a positive attitude when dealing with customers. They do pick up on your mood, and if you are not positive, they sometimes feel that you do not want to help. Whether you are on the phone or face-to-face, smile, even over the phone, your smile will shine through and let your customer know you care.

Follow Through with Customers

If you say you are going to do something for a customer, follow through. Your customers need to know that you are reliable and dependable. This is especially true when an issue cannot be resolved right away. Return all phone calls and emails promptly, and check with the customer to make sure the problem has been satisfactorily resolved. If for any reason you are not able to carry out something you said, let the customer know as soon as possible, and be honest.

Give your customers superior customer service by repeating, reflecting, and paraphrasing what is said to convey your understanding. Show customers respect, even when he or she is not giving you respect in return. Be proactive by anticipating customer problems and needs, so that they can be fixed before the issues arise. Keep a positive attitude, and smile even if you are communicating by phone.

Finally, follow through on all customer contact, ensuring that the complaint is resolved appropriately. These tips are critical to remember when you need to provide customer service.

Jeff Shuford

Jeff Shuford is a nationally syndicated columnist whose monthly column appears in more than 44 regional newspapers. Shuford is one of fewer than five millennial African-American syndicated columnists in the United States, and one of the country's youngest syndicated columnists overall.



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