Customer service skills training for your IT teams is no longer optional. The IT services market is growing faster every day making competition fierce. Companies that survive are focused on one thing: customer service experience. From the moment a customer engages with your company they are making decisions about how they feel about doing business with you. Customers are comparing service from your team and your competition. Now customers have an even further reach with their experience, good or bad. To keep you in the game, here are 5 customer service skills with which to equip your employees and keep your company competitive.
Tip #1: Share Why Customer Service Matters
People need to understand the “why” behind the importance of changing their communication habits. IT Professionals are no different, they get in a groove, want to knock out the solution and move on, sometimes missing the importance of slowing down to offer exceptional service to every customer contact. NewVoiceMedia created a powerful infographic based on an extensive research study, that depicts the consequences of poor customer service in the US. Their results revealed that an estimated $75 billion is lost by US companies each year following a bad customer experience. That, alone, explains the importance of effective customer service skills training.
Tip #2: Understand Before Trying to be Understood
Stephen Covey coined this phrase in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and its message rings true today. Here’s how you put it into practice at your company. Listen to the customer’s entire story, take notes, and then paraphrase back to them what you heard. Confirming the customer’s complaint and situation helps them feel understood, and helps you diagnose the underlying issues. (Be sure to use discretion in repeating back an issue. If it’s something simple and you repeat it back, you can come across as scripted and insincere.) Here is an even deeper dive into communication models.
Tip #3: Use Empathy to Gain a Problem-Solving Ally
Express empathy for a frustrating situation and create an ally for true troubleshooting genius. The principle of triangulation is amazingly effective. Imagine a straight line, you on one side and your customer on the other, between you imagine a giant wall. The wall is the issue at hand. If you and your customer are on opposite sides of the wall, focused on the wall, you’re both missing out on a much-needed collaboration. So how do you get your customer to circle the wall, and join you on the other side to focus on a solution? Empathy. Use words like, “Wow, I bet that is frustrating, let’s take a look at this and get it figured out!” When you show genuine empathy and help your customer understand your dedication to solving the issue, you’re offering excellent customer service. (Of course, this also requires sensitivity to the customer’s situation. For example, if the customer is under a tight deadline, angry, frustrated, or intimidated by technology, sometimes the best approach is to just quickly fix the problem!) Click here to take a deeper dive into Communication Models.
Tip #4: Use Your Resources, Say You’re Getting Help
This may come as a relief. Good customer service can mean getting help when you need it. In your role as an IT Professional, you utilize product knowledge and resources available to you. However, sometimes an issue is outside of your training, expertise, or experience and the best customer service is knowing when it’s time to get help. Customers are understanding about bringing in extra support if you get them where they need to be. If possible, stay with the customer through any handoffs or escalated issues. This way customers won’t have to reestablish trust or rehash the entire issue from the beginning. You may also learn new information to use with the next customer service interaction. If you don’t have the luxury of staying with the customer, be sure to introduce the customer, share the issue in detail and the steps you’ve already taken, and assure the customer that they are in good hands.
Tip #5: Patience is Key
Customer service means taking the time to explain actions slowly and be prepared to repeat steps. Your customers may not quite see exactly what they need to do right away, so give them time to process and understand any necessary steps. Provide instruction, when the customer completes the instruction correctly, move on to the next step. Avoid giving multiple actions at one time, it’s best to offer an option, wait for a response, make sure it was done correctly, then move forward.
Tips like these are helpful, but real change comes when companies invest in integrating these behaviors into their corporate culture. Training sessions are an excellent way to hone your teams’ skill sets and practice putting these ideas into action. At Compassionate Geek, we specialize in training IT Professionals on critical non-technical skills, like customer service, in order to help your company find awesome success.
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