The web is full of rants about bad customer service experiences, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are in charge of customer service for your company, here are five ways to delight your customers, gleaned from my years both managing a customer service department, and personally talking to tens of thousands of customers.
- Answer the phone, if at all possible, with real people – even ten years ago, my customers were astonished when a real person answered the phone by the third ring. It delighted them and started every conversation off well. These days, if you can have the phone answered by someone from the same country as your customers, you will exceed their expectations.
- Answer their question – not the question you think they’re asking, not the question on your script. Their question.
- Don’t waste their time – if it’s clear that you can’t help them, find someone who can. Even if you have to offer to refer them to another company. You’ll have earned their trust and they’ll remember that when they’re next in the neighborhood, or when someone asks for a referral.
- Be honest – customers are suspicious. They know about advertising tricks and they are worried about losing money and losing face. If you know there is something that other customers have had problem with or frequently misunderstand, highlight it, upfront. Explain how it can be avoided or turned to the customer’s advantage. Earn their trust.
- Don’t make excuses – if the customer is unhappy, the most powerful thing you can do is simply say “I’m sorry. What can I do to make this better?”. This is powerful voodoo. This is Kryptonite. This, assuming you’re sincere and give your reps the power to act on their promises, will defuse 99% of escalated cases.
Fight hard to empower your customer service reps, to allow them to do these things. Sure, there are some customers who will try to take advantage of you. Following these rules, however, lets you reward the vast majority of everyday people who just want to do business with you, and not get a migraine headache from the experience.