Have you ever been to a restaurant that took forever to seat you, or had a waitress/waiter that barely was around, or had your food come hours late. I have had all three, and considering I also worked in a restaurant for several years I never made the same mistake. Of course you are always going to have one screw up, especially on those busy nights, whether it is a delivery with the wrong address by a number, or an order that forgot to substitute one topping off a pizza.
I have had some rough nights, nights where I drove home in tears because I was so upset with how I did, or how the situation ended. After all those bad nights, I learned how to make a bad situation turn around. The biggest foundation I had that helped me from day one was the Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.
For today’s lesson in the Building Up Series, I am going to go over customer service etiquette. This advice goes for any and every business out there, where you deal with customers first hand.
First we will begin on how to handle every day and encounters with customers.
- Think before you speak.
- Be polite.
- Convey a positive attitude.
- Make a Great First Impression. You only get one shot at this.
- Listen thoroughly to their needs.
- Verify you both understand what is needed and what will happen.
- Be friendly, and easy to talk too.
It is much easier to be polite and start on a good foot, then try to move your way out of a bad situation with a customer. The next part has details of how to handle a customer service issue, with a description of what I mean by each.
- Think Before You Speak. It can be very easy to get caught up in the emotion of the customer, especially when they start to become condescending, however they are upset for a valid reason and you need to understand that. They are not targeting you, you however are the only one that can fix their issue. If you talk in a friendly and helpful voice, and make it known that you understand what their issues are, they will calm down quicker than you giving them attitude back, or saying sorry with no actual meaning behind it.
- Do not pull out the cookie cutter. By this I mean not every situation is the same. If you read my post about the terrible People’s Diamonds Customer Service I received then you know how much a customer hates to be another tack on the wall. Do not make an excuse that is not why the issues was caused. Be honest about it, or at least realistic. If you misunderstood what they wanted then say that, if there was a blip in paper work then take responsibility, do not blame the issue on others, unless it actually was someone else. Even then you are responsible for the company and the issue, so you must take the fall and make it better.
- Be Creative. Some customers are looking for a certain response when they hand in a complaint. You can often tell by their tone, or the way they approach the issue. Be creative with the solution and make sure your customer is satisfied with it. There is not rule book on how to deal with people and their complaints, so treat every scenario as a separate one, as it rightly is.
- Be Honest. If your customer has a problem or wants a service that you cannot provide them with be honest. If you lie you are going to dig yourself a bigger hole because you can simply not provide what they are looking for. Find a compromise though, do not just throw in the towel. The effort you put into the issue shows the customer how much they are valued.
- Be Thorough. Ensure you know the root of the problem, maybe it has happened before and they have not said anything. Once you understand the true reason, and have agreed on a solution, follow-up on it. Make sure it turns out better than their expectation. Share this plan with the customer and make sure you do everything you say.
- Follow Up. Once you have the problem check back with the customer. Make sure they know you genuinely care about the issue and that you want to make sure they are pleased with the new result. Exceed customer expectations.
These are just the basics of how to approach any customer service situation. Once you really understand these, you can apply them to anything. It is all about the scenario you are working on. The better you understand that the easier it will be to help the customer, and hopefully keep them for years to come.
Have you worked in the service industry before? What was one moment where you learned a valuable lesson on customer service etiquette?