Last month I attempted to order a couch from a furniture store that will remain nameless. When I went online to order the couch, there was no option to make the purchase there. So I called the store the next day to order it over the phone, and I sat on hold for 45 minutes. You heard me—45 minutes on hold for a couch! I was frustrated, so I drove to the store, thinking it would be easiest to place my order if I could talk to someone live.
When I arrived, the sales representative told me that their phones had been disconnected for a week, so I went ahead and ordered the couch there in person with the promise that I’d have it within two weeks. I got a call the next day saying that the order wouldn’t be delivered for five weeks. This entire experience resulted in me, a very angry customer, canceling my order all together. And to put the cherry on top, it took me over a week to get my refund back. Not ideal.
So, why did I just explain my couch shopping sob story with you? Because stories like these are stoppable. It’s time to eliminate the possibility of anyone with steam coming out of their ears angrily typing their customer experience like I just did.
Let’s face it—good customer service is the driving factor of a company’s reputation and success. It’s time to perfect customer service, and I’ve brainstormed five ideas for improving customer service that’ll help any customer service team “wow” customers. If you want more ideas too, I can’t recommend the Better Work Guide to Customer Service Training enough!
1. If you train them, they will come.
Prioritize customer service training. Customer service training really falls into two buckets: onboarding and continuous learning.
When a new agent starts, it’s crucial to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Relying on in-person training, documents, and emails full of information won’t cut it nowadays. During an agent’s onboarding, they need their training to be engaging so that they can retain the information that’s needed to do their job well.
To put this in context, consider the sales rep at the furniture company. He told me he’d been there for three months, but still I asked a lot of questions he did not know the answer to. This is where the ongoing learning piece comes in. When an agent has to quickly find the answer to something while they’re interacting with a customer, they need a place to go where all necessary information is stored and accessible. It’s not feasible to rely on always getting help from their manager or quickly scrolling through emails and documents to find what they’re looking for. They need a reliable place to go to so they can answer the customer’s question fast and create a positive customer experience.
2. Manners matter.
Improve customer service phone etiquette. We’ve all called a customer support line before, and when a rep as quality customer service phone etiquette, it makes or breaks an experience. And often, that company’s reputation. Strong phone etiquette means being kind and personable. Being able to answer questions. Resolving issues quickly. Doing what’s needed to keep customers happy.
Going back to point #1, customer service phone etiquette can be easily improved with better training. When reps have a place to practice their job skills and access to the answers of common questions, their ability to provide quality service skyrockets. My couch sales rep wasn’t super friendly and didn’t quite know how to help me. It is crucial for managers to train their agents on how to talk to customers over the phone and in person.
3. Be on the customer’s team.
Remember that the customer is always right. This is one of those sayings you probably heard first when you got your first job at a local restaurant. But it’s so important and always true. The customer is always right. Even if an agent doesn’t necessarily agree with what the customer is saying, it’s important for them to be groomed with the mentality and poise to approach every situation as if they are on the customer’s team. Because they are.
For example, when the furniture company told me an inaccurate delivery date, they were not very apologetic and did nothing to remedy my negative experience. If they would’ve apologized or acknowledged they were in the wrong here, then I might’ve still purchased my couch from them.
4. Overcommunication? No such thing.
Overcommunicate information. I ended up buying my new couch from a different, phenomenal furniture company. They did a great job overcommunicating with me. When I was searching for my couch online, their online chat system asked me if I had any questions about my particular order, and they were quick to get back to me with accurate information. Once I ordered the couch, someone texted me to confirm my order and delivery date. It felt as if I was not alone in my couch buying process.
5. Move quickly.
Be efficient. People want accurate information, and they want it fast. These two factors are the recipe for success when it comes to providing quality customer service. My experience with finding a couch was not quick or efficient. It was long and complicated because I was constantly chasing down who to speak to and how to resolve the issues with my order. If I had gotten efficient and accurate answers to my questions, I would’ve had a much different customer story than the one written above.
If you don’t know how to improve customer service, think of each customer service story like a book. Sometimes we read good books, and sometimes we read bad books. Empower your customer service agents to be remarkable authors. Make them the Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings of the customer service world. Let’s build the best customer service training to leave customers smiling, helped, and empowered. I hope the five customer service techniques above help you do this!
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