As the saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” This holds a lot of weight with customer service workers as well as administrative staff, who are often the initial point of contact for a company’s clients, vendors and other business contacts. But as their boss, do you know the value of building a customer service mindset?
Providing good customer service is the key to attracting and keeping business. Your administrative and customer service employees, in particular, play a key role in how others perceive your organization. While it’s comparatively easy to provide quality service when dealing with simple situations, the real challenge for your workers is when they face difficulty, like rude or angry people.
Here are five ways you can provide a customer service team mindset when it’s needed most.
1. Model good customer service
As the boss, you lead the cause and set the tone. You can’t expect your staff to provide excellent service if it’s not a personal commitment of your own.
Listen, show empathy and be responsive to your colleagues’ queries and requests. Polished soft skills are critical in any customer-focused position, just as they are in a leadership role. The same can be said about being proactive: Demonstrate problem solving, rather than passivity, in your daily work. Go the extra mile and exceed expectations, and your staff will likely follow suit.
2. Don’t expect a customer service mindset to come naturally
Explain to your staff that the most important elements of a customer service mindset are timeliness, the ability to listen and read nonverbal cues, strong verbal and writing skills, patience, and sound judgment.
Not everyone will excel in all these areas, so invest in customer service training when needed. It’s especially helpful to have people engage in role playing to learn the correct way to handle certain situations. You might even choose to do this periodically as a refresher on providing top-notch service.
3. Encourage autonomy
Don’t micromanage. Even if there are standard procedures in place, give your teams the autonomy to do more than what may be expected of them. A customer has received a defective product? An employee might let the customer know he’ll work directly with the person packing the replacement to make sure the one going out is perfect.
4. Promote the value of customer feedback
While no one takes pleasure in listening to customers vent frustration or complaints about your company, let employees know there’s an upside: People are giving them the chance to make things right. Your staff can help to turn around the situation or, at the very least, provide empathy and action that diffuses the tension. If your employees have had sufficient training, they should be prepared for what comes their way.
5. Call attention to good performance
Be sure to make recognition a part of your organizational culture. You can do that in many ways — from expressing gratitude and offering praise for a job well done, to giving tangible rewards, such as a bonus or raise. The important thing is to show you value their efforts.
Customer Service Week every October is a good excuse to call attention to the importance of the people who serve your customers — but you should show your appreciation at other times, too, of course.
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