The 5-star customer service skills
- Relationship building
- Outgoing/ people person
- Effective communication
- Seeking information
- Team spirit
1) Relationship building
My customer service experience made me believe that relationship building is the most important 5-star customer service skill. If you are successful in building a good relationship with your customer, he will ignore your dozens of mistakes.
A good relationship lasts longer when both parties have the vigor to work for it. But, in the customer service industry, always remember that customer is king. This is the most popular phrase in the customer service industry. Hence, you must serve the king well and make him happy. Therefore, in this relationship, the customer service provider needs to work harder than the customer.
So, how to build a positive and long-term relationship with your customer? Here are top 3 ways to achieve this:
Top 3 ways to build long-term relationship with your customer
- Greet him amiably– When your customer calls you or visits you, the first thing that you must do is to greet him. Nobody likes a dry, expressionless, or rude greeting. Therefore, greet him in a friendly way with a smile. Make him feel like you are happy to see him or hear from him. He must feel important from the first moment of interaction. Treat him as if he is your most valuable client.
- Build trust– Your complete focus must be on developing trust between you and your customer. This is essential for him to open up about his issue/ query which consequently helps in the quick resolution of the problem.
- Effective follow-up– This technique is mostly overlooked by customer service professionals. I have practiced it with a 100% success rate by achieving customer delight. Always inform the customer about the status of his problem resolution regardless of its size and intensity i.e. high priority or low priority. Even in the cases where issue is not yet resolved, informing the customer makes him understand that you care for him and wish to make him satisfied. It communicates your seriousness to provide him a good service experience.
2) Outgoing/ people person
This 5-star customer service skill is the basic requirement for any customer service job. You must be a person who likes people i.e. talking and listening to them. Today, we provide customer support over email, phone, and face-to-face hence, there is more need to have a dynamic personality.
For email customer support, you can be a bit shy or a little introvert if you entertain your customer well. This is because the company provides you a specific pattern to follow while replying to the emails, so your shyness is a bit covered.
For customer support over the phone, you must be more open and social than the email support because the customer can hear you. Your voice must reflect the friendliness and warmth for a good connection with customers as voice is the only communication tool you have over the phone.
For face-to-face customer support, your entire body language should radiate friendly vibes. So, here is the highest requirement to be open and gregarious.
3) Effective communication
In another blog on professional communication in the workplace, I described in detail how an ideal company communication exists. Putting it outrightly, design the whole process in a way that your customer can communicate well; with your communication skills guiding the whole problem-solving process. This includes following up with the customer too which has been described above in detail. Follow up is an essential part of the whole communication process.
Another aspect of effective communication is positive communication. For me, this positive communication has 2 components:
- Project a positive picture of your organization in front of the customer
- Do not communicate incorrect information to sell your products/ services or misguide the customer.
Therefore, positive communication means your entire communication values are built on honesty and respect for customers and earning the good reputation of your organization.
Customers are usually asked to rate the level of service by rating from 1 to 5. This score is called “Customer Satisfaction Score” or CSAT. As the name suggests, it signifies the level of satisfaction that a customer develops after getting the service; 1 being the worst service with improving levels up to 5 which is the best service. If you wish to retain your customers, your customer service agents need to strive hard to get a 5-star rating. Otherwise, with so many options at the door, your competitors will do it for your customers.
Customer service jobs are one of the toughest jobs in my view. This is because you must deal with different personalities at the same time. One moment, you might be talking to a truly kind and respectful customer and the other moment, you might face a very rudely screaming person. In every case, you are required to maintain self-control. You cannot express anger as part of good service protocols.
In the customer service industry, you are reminded all the time that customer is king so you cannot be rude. This is unfair in many of the cases where customers humiliate the customer service professionals, many times unjustly. But most of the time, the top management of your company will not care for your self-respect as they do not wish to lose their clients. Hence, developing this 5-star customer service skill will truly help you remain calm and understand the anger of customers.
In addition to facing an annoyed customer in contingency situations, you must maintain self-control in routine. Every customer comes with a different problem requiring different solutions. Assessing the situations and making judgments or decisions in hassle has higher chances of making mistakes thus, annoying the customer or leading to a company loss.
5) Seeking information
This 5-star customer service skill is closely related to effective communication. I intended to list it separately to emphasize its significance. Effective communication focuses on delivering and understanding the true essence of the message. As a customer service professional, you exist to provide solutions to queries and complaints of customers i.e. they have a need. So, the whole process revolves around getting the complete information from the customer and using it to solve the problem.
A good customer service professional knows how to get the information from the customer. This not only depends upon his information-seeking skills, but the training provided by the company matters equally. Nowadays, when customer service professionals are hired, they are trained before going live to deal with customers. During onboarding, the company provides them a set of questions to ask the customer to get information and define the problem. But these questions cannot alone make the entire process successful; a customer service agent should know how to dig into the matter to successfully entertain the client.
Information seeking competency is the result of your curiosity and involvement in the problem-solving process. So, own the problems of your customer to better understand the various aspects of the problem. Finally align the information received by the customer to resolve his issue.
This image shows well that how seeking and getting the right information is so important to solve the problem/ answer a query and make the customer happy.
This is among the top 5-star customer service skills. Today, interviewers expect you to talk about empathy first. Get into your customer’s shoes and understand his needs like him. Make him feel comfortable and assure him that you do understand how much this problem is bothering him. Help him understand that you are extremely concerned about solving his issue on priority. Also, understanding the problem from the perspective of the customer will help you identify many factors which he might not have explained to you.
I believe it is not only about making him understand that you care; it is truly feeling for him. Often, companies are just playing with words to console the customer while focusing less on the customer’s needs. A long-term company-customer relationship is based on the real problem solving to enhance customer satisfaction.
Therefore, tell your customer that you care and go an extra mile to prove it.
Self-confidence is believing in yourself. No doubt, customer dealing is one of the most challenging jobs. It is like a roller coaster ride as I said earlier: dealing with different people, everyone is unique. Every 3rd customer whom you come across, brings you new challenges. Today’s customer service is so dynamic and fast that you must act proactively and instantly. Yes! This means you must believe in yourself and understand that:
- I am ready to face people
- have the confidence to talk to people and answer to whatever they ask
- can adapt to all situations even the unforeseen and negative ones
- surely make people happy and satisfied
- work independently on the projects, successfully
- can take effective and timely decisions
This self-confidence is indeed essential for every job today. The fear is in your head. In the amazing book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma, Sharma writes, “Fear is nothing more than a mental monster you have created, a negative stream of consciousness”. He further writes, “Every time they have prevented you from taking some action, you have added fuel to their fire. But when you conquer your fears, you conquer your life”. Isn’t it amazing? This one thought by Robin Sharma can help you overcome your self-created fears and develop self-confidence in yourself.
Robin Sharma further suggests that start taking the risks and do the things which you have always been afraid to do. If you are shy of facing people, get out of your comfort zone of loneliness and socialize. I think self-confidence goes a long way on the road to success for a professional. I have seen many incompetent people who have only self-confidence and they impress everyone with this hence, getting frequent and fast promotions. So, this one skill provenly brings 5-star luck.
8) Team spirit
Usually, customer service professionals work in teams. Everyone in the team is given individual targets or goals but every customer service team has team goals on a broader horizon too. So, you do not only have to focus on your own goals, but you must focus on achieving the team goals as well. This team spirit magnifies the entire customer service department’s goals consequently, uplifting the service altitude of the entire organization.
Team spirit shows that you have a strong ability to consider everyone’s and hence, the entire company’s goals which could make you a powerful manager in the future. So, this one competency communicates a lot about the direction of your future growth.
Following deadlines is so much important in customer service. We have TATs for every kind of service in good organizations. TAT stands for Turnaround Time. This means the time to complete or respond to every customer query/ problem/ transaction. The ideal time to respond to customer’s email is usually 24 hours but for a service conscious professional like me, the best is to respond within 2 hours. Seems to be a tough target? Not exactly. Your customer must be your prime focus, do not make him wait. Customers are so aware of their rights today that they want an immediate reply and to be honest, many times the critical nature of the issue requires immediate response.
Best is to classify the problems based on high, normal, low priority for remote customer support. For live support, it must be a high priority. I have been working in a bank where the TAT for depositing/ withdrawal of cheque was 2 minutes. So, the nature of support deicides the turnaround time, but try to be as efficient as possible.
Being flexible is every profession’s demand today. Say yes to new customer service concepts and practices. Welcome new changes in the traditional customer dealing ways. Be open to customer feedback and suggestions to improve their whole service experience. Go the extra mile to make him satisfied. Retain him like he is the only customer that you have.
Use these 5-star customer service skills for successful customer retention
The best way to plan and implement your 5-star customer service strategy is to think like your customer. An efficient and effective service with a positive and warm attitude is the key to the successful retention of customers. Focusing only on these top 5-star customer service skills will guide you in developing a successful customer success strategy. More satisfied customers lead to more profits and promises the company’s long-term market leadership.