Customer Service is ever evolving, soft skills training is one the most discussed topics with our partners to enhance the skills and performance of their customer facing team members. Below we share tips from five areas where basic soft skills can be used to provide better service with just a few extra personal touches.
Create a positive impression
Use a positive and upbeat tone to personally greet and welcome communication, exchange names and ask how you can help is a great start. Project your voice clearly, at a steady pace and pronounce words clearly so the other person can understand you easily. Take opportunities to build a rapport, extra touches such as using their name appropriately, adding in a few polite questions to show an interest in the person and exchanging useful information can really open up communication and make the experience much more enjoyable.
Avoid negative language
Negative words such as no, can’t and won’t are not customer friendly words! Find alternative ways to address customer objections and worries, offer alternative solutions or extra advice if the customers question is leading to an answer which may cause frustration or worry. Never compromise the customers experience with unconscious negativity, they will pick up on you huffing, slamming and they don’t need to be burdened with your headache complaint, how rubbish your system is today or how miserable the weather is near you.
Engage and enjoy interacting
Some customers will want to engage by making a joke or sharing they’ve just got back off their holiday – acknowledge it! Continuing with business as usual will make them view you as ignorant and they will feel undervalued. Simply checking they had a good time on their holiday and asking where they went will instantly show them that you are interested in them, but remember not to get overly personal or try to outdo them with your holiday! You may be the first person the customer has spoken to for a while; we can give a little extra attention but control the call with polite questions to bring the conversation back to business by asking what they need or want you to do.
Listen and control your behaviour
One of the biggest mistakes is talking too much and not giving the other person time to express what they want to say. Avoid rushing, finishing off sentences, interrupting and NEVER raise your voice to overpower someone else – you will immediately turn a conversation into a battle. Customers want to be heard, so make notes, give appropriate verbal nods, repeat key points and clarify complex information to demonstrate active listening. Address customer questions clearly and if you are unable to give a great answer take responsibility for finding one and agree when you can provide it. Consciously control your own behaviour when you are listening to someone else, only listen to the facts and never mirror or bite when bad behaviour is being used. Defending or fighting back will give a negative or challenging person great satisfaction and pride in breaking your professionalism.
Be assertive in owning customer problems
Many companies use the word complaints, but we see these valuable expressions of dissatisfaction as feedback to help us identify improvements, it’s a great opportunity to show our skills and leave the customer with a glowing feeling about their experience with us. Defending, ignoring or deflecting will make the situation worse and only satisfy a customer’s perception that you are incompetent. Welcome the communication and listen carefully, offer empathy and an apology. There is a fine line between being aggressive or assertive; it is always the tone that separates the two! With the right tone we can make a promise to help and ask questions to get a great understanding of the problem and what you can do to make things better. Once the cause is established a resolution should be negotiated within a guaranteed timescale. Following the resolution a check in with the customer should be carried out to confirm all expectations have been met.
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