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People to People: The Crucial Customer Service Skills in the Workforce

People to People: The Crucial Customer Service Skills in the Workforce

Jason Patel
Jason Patel
Founder of Transizion

In the modern workforce, customer experience is king. It’s what sets a business apart from the competition.

 

A report by Walker Information shows that customer experience is even overtaking price and product as the key brand differentiator.

 

And according to Gartner, at least 89% of companies expect to compete mostly based on customer experience.

 

What About Your Customer Service Experiences?

 

If you’re like me, your personal experiences support this data.

 

We’ve all experienced terrible customer service. Think of your last truly awful one...

 

Did you cut ties with the brand immediately? Or did you just avoid doing business with the company as much as possible in the future? After the experience, did you continue recommending that company to others?

 

Now, think of your last above-and-beyond experience with customer service.

 

Do you recommend that company to others? Do you go out of your way to do business with that company whenever possible?

 

I live near two grocery store chains. One is much more affordable than the other.

 

But if you need to find a helping hand, good luck! It’s like playing a game of hide-and-seek against an especially clever opponent. And don’t even think about having a friendly conversation.

 

At the other, more expensive store, the employees are one of the nicest people I’ve ever met—and always available to help, too. They’ll even walk you to your car with an umbrella if it rains.

 

Where do you think I do my shopping?

 

That’s right, at the more expensive store that makes grocery shopping more pleasant.

 

And it turns out I’m not alone: 66% of U.S. consumers are willing to spend more money for a better customer service experience.

 

Why Customer Service Is More Important Than Ever

 

You’d think that in an era of digital technologies, AI, and bots, people skills such as customer service would become obsolete on the job market.

 

Not so fast. It’s actually the opposite.

 

The importance of customer service to businesses is rapidly increasing. Here’s why.

 

1. Word-of-Mouth Marketing

 

In the age of online reviews and social media, “word of mouth” can spread much faster and much farther.

 

A dissatisfied customer in 2019 can make a lot more noise than a dissatisfied customer in 1989. But the good news is: so can a happy customer.

 

If a business can provide excellent customer service, it leads to social media praise and glowing online reviews, which lead to more customers.

 

Plus, customers will trust a recommendation from someone they know (even if it’s just through social media) over promotional content from a business.

 

Good customer service is one of the cheapest and most effective marketing strategies available. Employers know that very well, too—

 

If you can prove your customer service skills in your job search, you’ll be able to land better jobs!

 

2. Customer Loyalty

 

Customer loyalty is another significant factor. Today, many people conduct most of their shopping and their interactions with businesses online.

 

An upset customer doesn’t have to drive miles away to a competitor. All they have to do is push a few buttons on the computer and they’re gone, possibly for good.

 

So, keeping customers happy has become more important than ever before.

 

What makes customers happy?

 

A personalized experience, proactive resolutions to their needs, and timely responses to their problems. In two words: customer service.

 

My company, Transizion, is much smaller than our competitors, but we focus on customer stories and pain points to personalize the support they get. This is how we’re able to compete with much bigger companies.

 

Happy, loyal customers save businesses time and money. On average, it’s five times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep existing customers.

 

3. Brand-Building

 

Thanks to the factors mentioned above, customer service and customer experience define brands.

 

Businesses who deliver customer-focused experiences build brands that delight, attract, and retain customers.

 

80% of companies believe they provide “great experiences,” but only 8% of customers agree. That creates an excellent opportunity for newcomers to disrupt competitors, all on the strength of their customer service.

 

How to Strengthen Your Customer Service Skills for the Modern Workforce

 

The importance of customer service in the modern workforce is apparent.

 

Strengthening your customer service savvy will make you a more competitive job applicant and a more valuable employee.

 

1. Consider the customer, regardless of your job title

 

If you’re reading this article thinking, “Well, that doesn’t really apply to my job,” think again.

 

Every aspect of a business contributes to the overall customer experience.

 

Are you a web designer, for instance? You want to make the website as easy for customers to navigate as possible. If a customer gets confused or frustrated on your site, they’ll simply go find another.

 

Are you a copywriter? What can you do to make the content on your site more appealing to your intended audience? The more you seem to “know” your audience and speak directly to them, the more customers will gravitate to your brand over others.

 

Regardless of your job description, consider the customer.

 

Think about what you can do in your role to make the customer experience as painless and pleasant as possible. This customer-centric view will make you a valuable asset to any company.

 

2. Develop your listening skills

 

Customer service is more about listening than talking.

 

Listen to your customer’s questions, concerns, and problems. Reflect their statement back to them to avoid any misunderstanding: “So you’re saying…”

 

If you don’t have any customers to practice with right now, work on honing your listening skills in normal conversation.

 

Make eye contact, ask questions, and avoid interrupting. Focus on what’s being said instead of planning your response.

 

The more you listen, the better you’ll understand your customers’ needs, wants, and pain points. This information can help you shape your business to deliver the best possible customer experience.

 

3. Offer empathy, no matter what

 

Sometimes, you’re bound to encounter customers who are angry and/or unpleasant. The key is to always remain patient and professional.

 

If this is difficult for you, find strategies that help you maintain your composure. Take deep breaths, relax your shoulders and unclench your jaw, count to ten, etc.

 

The level of service you provide should not be dependent on the customer’s likeability.

 

Then, offer empathy. Try to put yourself in the customer’s position and understand what he or she is feeling.

 

Upset customers mostly just want to be heard. Use statements like:

 

  • I can see how that would be frustrating.
  • I understand. You wanted/you were hoping __________.
  • Thank you for letting me know so we can fix this.

 

4. Always be helpful

 

When possible, offer multiple solutions to a problem.

 

Customers appreciate options because they provide them with a degree of control.

 

Offering multiple solutions also demonstrates that you’re committed to helping the customer in a way that works for them.

 

If you don’t have the answer, be honest. In addition, find someone who does have the answer.

 

In all your interactions, make it clear that you want to be helpful and that your customer’s happiness is a priority.

 

5. Get informed

 

If you want to offer great customer service, you need to be informed about your business. This includes rules, processes, products, and services.

 

Take the time to learn this information. If it’s a lot to remember, keep a cheat sheet at your desk.

 

And when a customer asks a question you’re unsure how to answer, write it down. Next time a customer asks the same question, you’ll be more prepared.

 

6. Talk to people

 

It’s true that listening is more important than talking, but becoming completely tongue-tied in a customer interaction isn’t ideal.

 

If you have a fear of talking to others, talk to people more. You may not like this solution, but it’s the only way to push past your discomfort.

 

Here’s a confession: When I first started Transizion, I was terrified about talking to potential customers. I feared the idea of getting rejected. Over time, that fear has disappeared completely—I think of every “no” as one step closer to a “yes.”

 

 

Becoming comfortable in social situations will dramatically improve your customer service skills. You’ll be more confident, charismatic, and capable of delivering top-notch service.

 

So, what do you think?

 

Does customer service impact how you interact with businesses? What steps do you take to offer an excellent customer experience at your job?

 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Jason Patel
Jason Patel
Jason is the founder of Transizion, a college counseling and career services company. Transizion features a 100% satisfaction rate with students, parents, and professionals. Jason and his company have been featured in the BBC, Zety, Washington Post, NBC News, Forbes, Fast Company, and a number of other great outlets. Their goal is to help close the Opportunity Divide in America.
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