I nearly cringe when I hear someone claim excellent customer service because they “listen to the customers’ needs.” Listening is only one THIRD of effective customer service skills — at least in my book. Here are the three principals that drive OUR customer service approach:
Listen. The first critical step in customer service IS to listen. Totally agree with that. But this is actually the point at which most people fail at customer service. Most people listen with half an ear, picking up only the parts of the problem they can fix, beginning to formulate a solution in their mind often while the prospect is still talking about the problem!
Assess. This is the step that is most often skipped. We must, as problem solvers, use what we’ve heard, in its totality, to come up with a solution. We must look at the problem from 360 degrees, taking into consideration not only what was said, but the context in which it was said, what was NOT said, the dynamic of the people in the room, when it was being said, and the implication of what would happen if what was said was true, or not true.
Recommend. Only after we have used our experience and assessment expertise are we able to make an intelligent recommendation. It is our responsibility to present the best option to any given marketing problem. This, unfortunately, is not always the solution that the client came to us thinking they needed. I always use the child and the cookie analogy: a child comes to you and asks for a cookie. [Point of decision:] Do you give them the cookie or do you use your adult brain to make smarter choices for him. Point being, sometime a cookie is not in the best interests of a child.
81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.* 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again.** Make sure you’re doing all you can to create a positive service experience for your customers.
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(Sources: *Peppers & Rogers Group, 2009 Customer Experience Maturity Monitor and **Lee Resource Inc.)