An organisation or business needs to ensure its employees are displaying good customer service skills in order to be successful. As an employee of an organisation, you are representing the brand, ethos and values of the organisation publicly and this needs to be done in a presentable and professional manner.
Why is customer service important?
Good customer service is important to an organisation as it makes a lasting, positive impression on those who use your service or buy your products. It means that customers will return to your organisation and help to increase sales and a strong, professional reputation for your organisation. As an employee of your organisation, your customer service skills are vital in making a lasting impression - this can go a long way towards helping your organisation to be successful and grow over time.
Good Customer Service Skills
There are many different skills and behaviours involved in providing good customer service. Your Employment Coordinator can help you develop any of these skills if you feel you need support or advice. Here are some for you to think about:
Good customer skills start with being presentable. Make sure your clothes and shoes are clean and you have showered, cleaned your teeth and brushed your hair before you start work. Most organisations will have policies on how you need to look while at work and what clothing is not allowed so make sure you follow these rules. Please refer to the Personal Hygiene section of this website for more information.
Display positive body language
Communication is not just about the words we use, but the way we say them, as well as our body language when we say the words. Research shows that the importance of the actual words is just 7%, so our body language is really important as it makes up the other 93% of our message.
Body language includes our tone of voice, posture, gestures and facial expressions. Good body language can help make our communication positive, while negative body language can make us come across as rude, angry or aggressive - which is not something we want to display to customers or work colleagues.
Which of these show examples of positive and negative body language? Can you identify any that you do?
- folding your arms while talking to someone
- giving good eye contact
- standing with your hands on your hips or in your pockets
- smiling and showing you are listening while someone tasks to you
- picking your nails
- looking around as if you are bored
- sighing while someone is talking to you
- playing on your phone
- tapping your foot impatiently
- sitting up straight and facing someone
How do you think customers would react if you displayed negative body language? Have you ever experienced this as a customer yourself?
Strong communication skills are key to building a relationship with your customers and colleagues. Remember these key tips in relation to communication:
- Listen - make time for the customer, ask questions to get more information, answer their queries and help solve their problems.
- Stay calm - if a customer or colleague is angry or upset, they may raise their voice to you and shout but it is very important that you remain calm, polite and respectful - this is how to manage a complaint or conflict sensitively.
- Apologise - make the customer feel valued. If they have experienced an inconvenience then reassure them you are there to help and find a solution to what they need. If you feel intimidated by a customer, you can go and find a supervisor who can support you with your communication.
The language you use when interacting with customers is very important. Think about what you want to say and how you can problem solve what the customer wants or needs. For example, instead of saying 'I don't know', how about 'Let me find out for you', or instead of saying 'Well, that is not my fault is it?' how about 'Let's see what we can do about this and who is the right person to help you.'
Build a rapport
Depending on where you work, you may have repeat customers and get to know them over time. It is great to build up a relationship and rapport with customers, but make sure you put boundaries in place and do not talk about personal issues, personal events or relationships.
Go 'above and beyond'
Going above and beyond means you do more than is expected of you to assist customers. Examples of this may be:
- Help your customer - ask if your customer needs help packing their bags, loading their trolley or getting their items back to their car. If you can't assist, find someone who can help them.
- Offer help & advice on products - listen to your customer's needs and help them feel confident with their purchase by offering advice and guidance on different products. If it is clothing, help them choose something that fits and looks good.
What's in it for me?
As well as the satisfaction of helping make someone else's day better and your day more enjoyable as you have had nice customers, you could also be in with a chance of recognition from your manager.
A large number of stores have feedback forms which allow customers to write about their experience in store, or mention anyone in particular who helped them, or perhaps displayed negative customer service. Hence, it is always worthwhile displaying strong customer service skills as these are often recognised by your employer which can lead to rewards, positive feedback and further staff benefits.
Customer Service Don'ts!
We have looked at some of the ways you can use good customer service skills and behaviours, and the reasons for doing this, but it is important to remember what customers will recognise as poor service. Below is our list of some of the DON'TS when working with people.
- Don't look like you would rather be somewhere else
- Don't tell a customer you 'don't know' the answer to their queries, shrug or walk away from them
- Don't eat food, chew gum or drink while assisting customers
- Don't answer/play with your phone while engaging with customers
- Don't ignore customers and talk to your colleagues instead
- Don't tell customers about any personal issues you are going through at the moment