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customer service
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necessary evil
beginning of the end
Skills For Customer Service
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Skills For Customer Service

Many business owners wonder how they can grow their sales and, given the state of the economy, if it is even feasible to do so at this point-in-time. Or... maybe their company's current level of sales are adequate, but the owner wonders how long this good fortune will last. Possibly the company's sales are dropping, prompting the owner to wonder if this is "the beginning of the end"? So, what can an owner do?

With competition fierce for what little expendable income consumers bring into the marketplace, now is the time to brush up on skills for customer service!

The single best thing a company can do to ensure their customer base is either stable or growing is by providing exemplary customer service! Customers will go out of their way to get to a business that treats them with quality customer services; in other words respect, makes them feel welcome, and is always friendly. Let's examine some strategies that help sharpen skills for customer service:

1. Change Your Customer Service Culture: You and your employee's attitude towards every customer who walks in the door, calls on the phone, e-mails, or communicates through any other medium has to be warm, welcoming, accommodating, and fast. Customers quickly sense when the employee treats them as a necessary evil instead of a friend, and will just as quickly defect to another business similar to yours that meets their needs and provides better customer service. Imagine what you would react like if you saw a dearly loved friend on the street that you haven't seen in a long time, and duplicate that with your customers! The customer is in your business with money to spend in their pocket, and you should love them for that! Acknowledge them when they come in the door with a big smile and a "How's it going today?!" Having great skills for customer service will go a long way with customers tired of being treated like cattle!

2. Train For Quality Customer Services: Customer Service Representatives are the lifeblood of any business, and they should know that even before you hire them. Your business' CSRs need to be engaging, upbeat, intelligent, and be able to handle themselves professionally when a customer has negative feedback. One thing to avoid is having scripted greetings, scripted up-sells, scripted closures, or scripted anything! Emphasize the main bullet points you want your CSRs to get across, and have them phrase the statements in way that fits the CSR's personality and flows naturally. If the CSRs aren't able to project the quality customer services you need them to, then you have the wrong people on the front line. Keep working until you find the right CSRs, because they are worth their weight in gold! The main point is you need to have skills for customer service training in place, as not everyone is born with that talent. Also remember that anyone can learn great customer service, but not everyone "gets it."

3. Have a Customer Complaints Process: Negative customer feedback is always going to happen no matter what business you are in, and if handled correctly, good skills for customer service can win you customers instead of lose them for you! The primary rule is to not get frazzled by an irate customer, and actually LISTEN to what they are saying. In many cases, a customer's complaint is merely informative instead of monetary, so do not automatically start opening your wallet to appease them! They may want to just be heard and sympathized with, which you can do. If they start getting out of control, calmly let them know you are there to help, but only if they refrain from yelling or carrying on - otherwise they will have to leave and come back when they are calmer. If their complaint is valid, make a decision on the spot whether a monetary action or some kind of exchange is necessary, but only in extreme cases. Once a customer "smells blood", you won't get away from forking over some hard-earned dough, and getting into that habit is dangerous for your profitability! Additionally, if you have a customer who habitually has an "issue" that requires compensation, then politely, professionally and firmly terminate your relationship with them ASAP! You'll be better off without a customer that constantly costs you more money then you make off them, and does nothing but drag your name through the mud in the community in the process! You should also train to empower the lowest level employee possible to make sound customer satisfaction decisions, and then stand behind them when they make a decision.

By providing your employees with good skills for customer service and holding them accountable for it, you will stand head and shoulders above the competition! "Train like you fight, and fight like you train," and you will surely have a winning small business!


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