Giving Royal Customer Service

The customer may be king, but do they get royal service from you? Too many business people don’t know how to give great customer service.

In business customer service is for everyone irrespective of your job title. Given this, it’s not that employees don't want to give good service, it’s just that they fail to recognise the importance of treating every customer they interact with as a king. As a result customers get the feeling that the person in front of them or on the other end of the telephone doesn’t really value what matters to them.

Use the following 6 points and your customers will feel like royalty when they deal with you:

1. Check how you feel. It is hard to give good customer service if you’re feeling negative emotions, such as anger or fear. Practice some deep, slow breathing to calm yourself down before you answer that call or meet that customer.

2. Listen and observe. To give good service you need to understand what the other person wants and feels. This means gathering high quality information. Learn to read other peoples’ emotions – sometimes it is how information is communicated rather than the actual words that are used that are key to understanding real needs. Show them you have time for them and are ‘really’ listening

3. Care about the person and their issue. This is called empathy. It is the ability to put yourself in their shoes, to see the world as they do. Without empathy you will not care… and they will know it! When you care you can then be a pro-active problem solver. Ask yourself “what do they need?” and “What would solve their issue?”

4. Build rapport. Be warm, transparent and always act with integrity. Gentle humour, used sensitively, can be a powerful tool to build rapport. And watch the following phrases that can destroy rapport:

“I understand how you feel” (Avoid this phrase, unless you really mean it)
“That’s your opinion” (sounds aggressive)
“I can’t tell you my last name” (What are you hiding?)
“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” (Avoid using this if what you really are trying to do is finish a conversation when the customer is clearly not yet satisfied).
“Your call is important to me/us” (usually a voicemail message that says the opposite!)
“I don’t know who you spoke to – it wasn’t me / we have no record of that” (Interpreted by the customer as: “You are lying”)

5. Build the relationship. Trust is important in relationships, so constantly check whether what you are doing or how you’re saying something is likely to build or undermine the other person’s trust. Take responsibility for the entire customer experience. For example, if the customer needs to be called back or followed up, then check this happens. Nothing breaks trust quicker than promises which are not kept.

6. Keep good notes and pass them on. Good notes minimise the need for your colleagues to repeat the same questions you have already asked. They show that what the customer has told you is important. This is particularly important when giving customer service by telephone – when you may have to transfer a call to a colleague.

If you are a manager or supervisor, then you need to help your team to understand and use these six points themselves. Customer service training can help embed these essential skills and attitudes.