5 Steps to Reach the Perfect Customer Service Mindset
Providing the perfect customer experience (CX) is no easy task and yet studies suggest that there’s a strong link between CX and customer loyalty.
Of course, CX is a sum of its parts, of which there are many, and probably the most important of these is the way that your customers are treated by service staff. For those on the front line, it can be difficult to discover and maintain a positive mindset at all times – customers can be rude, even abusive if they become frustrated.
This can be easily overcome though, it’s just a case of having the right mindset, so let’s have a look today at how this can be achieved.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Customers are just people like any other and for a customer service rep to be effective, they should have a certain amount of empathy. This means that you should train staff firstly how to listen effectively and how to pick up signals from the customer to inform the response. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. As human beings we’re all accustomed to picking up signals from others on a daily basis. Granted, it’s a little more difficult when using platforms such as live chat, email and social media, but it’s still doable.
Anger and frustration are of course the easiest to pick up. You should train staff to listen carefully to what the customer has to say, without interrupting, to gain a full understanding of their issue.
Empathy begins with the business owner and if you want your staff to show it to your customers, then it’s important that you show it to your staff too. Ask your staff to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and put yourself in the shoes of your staff. Lead by example and create team building exercises in which your staff act out customer scenarios to learn from and build upon.
Remember, everyone is a customer – the boss, the reps, the cleaner – and customer service reps should always attempt to treat customers as they themselves would want and expect to be treated. A Buffer article I read recently offers the advice that new customers should be thought of like a first date – always jump in and offer to fix things asap for new customers and you will have started off on the right footing.
A good customer service rep doesn’t approach conversation with a customer as a problem, but as an opportunity. With this in mind, encourage staff to think about customers as they would be somebody they know. As a training exercise, ask them to imagine that one of these people has just contacted the customer service desk and that they will have to deal with them.
It’s likely that the rep will immediately be more relaxed and friendly and this will be apparent in their tone and body language. This can then be used to cement the understanding that customers should be communicated with in the same manner. From the very first time a customer gets in touch, the aim of the rep should be to wow them.
This means that the rep should:
- Offer a solution to the problem that the customer has
- Be friendly, informal and listen to what each individual customer has to say
- Be natural and not read from a script
- Allow the customer to lead in terms of how they are addressed (sir, madam, first names, surnames.)
- Not offer empty platitudes or ignore what they have to say
With regards to the latter this is something that I see often and find exceptionally annoying. For example, last week I contacted the customer service department of a hosting company which I’ve recently moved my sites to via live chat. I had a question surrounding pricing which appeared to have changed from the initial price that I paid. The operator was very cold, not at all friendly, and at the end of the chat I asked him to pass my comments (essentially a complaint) to the relevant department. I was exceedingly polite and wished him a great evening at the same time. All of my comments were ignored completely and the message I received back was a standard copy-and-paste response thanking me for contacting them and asking that I rate my experience via a survey.
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Had I been inclined to fill in that survey, my responses would have been far from positive. Why? Because the customer service rep made me feel like he didn’t care and it would be putting him out to actually offer any constructive help.
This from a global concern too. So train staff to think about customers as a person that they would interact with in everyday life to enable them to get into a mindset that allows them to be friendly. Scripts detract heavily from this – it’s so easy to hear or see when someone is reading from one – users want a personal response, not one that’s been penned by a sales person looking to manipulate someone into make a purchase.
Good customer service springs from a place where the business is secure and its employees can afford to be generous in terms of the time they give, the approachability of their staff and that there’s plenty to share. Businesses that are struggling tend to offer a poor level of customer service because they don’t feel that they have enough to give without it affecting profits – this is a dangerous mindset and one that means that the business will almost certainly fail.
Think about the times when you’ve contacted a business and they’ve refused to budge an inch when it comes to giving you some redress when things have gone wrong. Perhaps the business has insisted that you pay for returns, or maybe they’ve only given you a part-refund on a product that arrived and proved to be unsuitable. Would you ever do business with them again? No. So don’t be one of those companies – train your staff to know exactly what they can give when a complaint/return/refund request comes their way. If the staff have the authority to give refunds, etc., then not only will they feel much more positive about their job (and this will come across in the communication) but it will also serve to ensure that your customers go away happy and ready to recommend your products to a friend.
Be a Winner
According to Adam Torporek, author of Be Your Customer’s Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines there’s one question that can help customer service professionals to get into the perfect customer-facing mindset. He maintains that this one question “immediately helps to shift a CSP’s perspective from reactions to solutions.”
The question is: “How do I turn this into a win?”
So the rep should always be looking to resolve any problems or issues that a customer might have, even if they’ve contacted you about something trivial. This way of thinking also ensures that a customer service rep remains positive in even the most challenging of circumstances, such as when a customer has a complaint. Customers that are frustrated and angry almost always take it out on the service rep – so rather than them thinking negatively when this happens – ‘this customer is so unreasonable’ ‘what do they want from me’ etc. – the rep will be focused on how they can come out of it like a winner.
Simple, yet effective.
Foster a Good Company Culture
The culture in which we work has an effect on the job we do no matter who we are, skilled or unskilled, management or front line staff. If you want your customer service staff to have the right mindset for dealing with your customers, then it’s necessary to create it. A positive working environment, where everyone is happy, will go much further to getting your reps into the right frame of mind than any training will.
Ideally, your employees should:
- Have access to further training and development
- Have the opportunity to further their career by working with you
- Be set goals and allowed to enter into healthy competition
- Have the authority to deal with customer complaints on the spot
- Have the tools they need to carry out their job effectively and efficiently
- Feel valued by management and coworkers
No matter what the size of your business, ongoing training and development should always be a central part of it if it’s to grow and flourish. It’s not necessarily the case that you should always be able to offer promotion either. Your staff should have the opportunity to further their career even if it isn’t with you in the long term (although it’s desirable, obviously). Creating a healthy company culture where staff learn and flourish will also help you to attract and retain top talent.
Customer service is a tough job and it’s not particularly easy to get everything right. However, promoting and fostering a positive mindset is vital and to do this, it’s necessary to put the right training in place and to ensure that the workforce is happy overall. A happy worker is one that’s much more inclined to show the empathy that good customer service needs so it’s up to you, the business owner, to ensure that you create the right environment for your staff to carry out their job effectively.
Also check out our posts on 10 Tips for a Resilient Customer Service Attitude and 6 Truisms for Instant Customer Service Motivation .