Customer Service is about Listening

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

In the age of the internet, customers have more choice than ever before when it comes to purchasing nearly any type of product or service. The internet and globalization have opened up a wealth of options to the eager consumer. As a result, companies have to try harder than ever to capture and keep their customers’ attention.

One area that is vitally important to customer retention is customer service. Customers want to feel that they are valued, taken seriously, and listened to. This is especially the case with Millennials and Generation Z, often willing to switch brands if they feel their current brand fails to deliver on their expectations. Below are a few strategies to keep in mind when you start thinking about customer service. This is a skill set the can be taught and companies should be dedicated to hiring and training the right people. The following suggestions can help ensure that your company’s customer service is as flawless as it can possibly be…

Listen to what your customers are saying

When it comes to customer service, the absolute worst thing you can do is try to cut customers off and/or ignore them. It’s wise to implement a psychological technique called empathetic listening. This is best summarized as: “seek to understand before being understood”. Of course, you’re going to want to respond to your customers if they are complaining (being understood). However, understanding their problem is far more important. So listen, don’t cut them off, and only speak when they seem to have reached a natural conclusion. By practicing better listening, you might end up learning something important about your business that you can apply to all your customers. So while personalized listening seems expensive from a time consumption standpoint, it may have a greater return in the long run.

Don’t be defensive

Customers don’t want to hear that your company is actually great, and that their issue is quite rare. All they typically care about is finding a resolution to the issue they are experiencing. Try to avoid being defensive, and instead focus back on the customer and their experience. Focus on listening and solving, rather than convincing and correcting the customer’s viewpoint.

Be empathetic, patient and understanding

When responding to a customer, it’s vital to keep your temper and emotions in check, and focus on being kind, understanding, and conciliatory. If they’re repeating themselves or getting annoyed, that’s fine. Just be patient, try to understand their point of view, and give them a pass. They’re upset about something and chances are they are just venting at you. That’s not pleasant, but it is understandable. By being calm, human and empathetic, you’ll diffuse the situation and have a better chance at connecting with the customer and retaining them. Just remember to engage as a human; don’t read from a script and be sure to tailor your solution-oriented message to their individual situation. Good empathy can also turn an issue around where a customer moves from being a potential detractor to a net promoter.

Explain that you are here to help

Ultimately, what customers want from customer service is a resolution; they want a fix. That’s why you should always try to explain that you’re going to help them and will stick with them until you find a resolution. This should reassure them that the matter is being taken seriously, and they are more likely to think positively of your company as a result. If the resolution is complicated or time-consuming, explain to the customer that it will take a while, and then keep them in the loop so they don’t feel ignored.

Learn from great companies: Apple, Nordstrom’s, Zappos

Try and approach the issue of customer service for your business by thinking of the times you, as a customer, have received great service. Market leaders such as Apple, Nordstroms, and Zappos have all perfected their customer service departments. Great customer service is at the heart of these brands’ DNA and culture. Take them as an inspiration. The next time you interact with great companies as a customer, take note of all the things they do well. The way they ensure you feel cared for and considered as a consumer is key — try to mimic these behaviors in your own business.

Keep calm and carry on

By focusing on customer service you can, even in a crowded marketplace, stand out to your customers as a wonderful company to purchase from. Younger generations more than ever expect this and you can do great harm with a poor customer service experience. By implementing the strategies above, your customer service and customer retention will improve immediately.