After 20 years of providing customer service, I try to instill 3 words to fresh-faced individuals in the field, adaptability, fluidity, and transparency. These 3 things will build strong, lasting relationships with a client or consumer, because at its core, customer service is a relationship. A symbiotic relationship that may last a moment, a year, or a lifetime. It’s making a connection with another human being, and for me, the variety of personalities and individuals you are able to connect with is the most exciting part of being in the service industry.
Working with a diverse group of individuals, adaptability is key to starting a connection. Adapt and align your interests to the consumer. People love nothing more than the sound of their own voice. So, get them talking and keep them talking. Open the dialogue about similar interests or commonalities and build that relationship with the customer. Once a familiarity and bond is created, loyalty will naturally follow. Loyalty is a key differentiator for customer retention. It also creates a steady flow of communication that allows genuine customer feedback. The feedback provided by individuals will only assist in growing business. Feedback allows the customer service representative to adjust their current methods to adapt to the customer needs. This only provides an extra level of satisfaction. Look for roles where your adaptability can shine.
Fluidity is also an essential component of a great customer service cocktail. Esteban Kolsky, the founder and principal of thinkJar with over 15 years as a Customer Strategy Consult, concluded that 44% of consumers say they have received the wrong answer from a customer service representative in the past. This means almost half of all your interactions will automatically start off with the consumer questioning your competence. Be fluid with the conversation. Let the consumer drive and lead the beginning of the conversation. Let them be heard, allow them to vent any frustrations. Then gently steer the consumer towards satisfaction with solutions, not excuses. Every solution should be as unique as the customer experience itself. If you provide the same solution, expect the same result and with uniqueness of each situation that method can often sound like an automated response. It should never sound like you are reading from a script.
Finally, let’s discuss transparency when it comes to customer service. Transparency builds trust. And without trust you will not make a connection or build a relationship in a personal or professional environment. If a mistake was made, be transparent, admit it, and move on. It’s not about the apology, it’s about how you move on, and the corrective actions that follow. This is what builds brand loyalty and customer retention. A 5% increase in customer retention can produce 25% more profit, according to Bain & Company as of 2018. With this, a 25% increase in profit is higher than most sales team’s entire KPI’s for the year.
Harris Interactive market research showed in 2019, 89% of consumers have switched to doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. You can run, and you can hide but the power of great customer service is statistically undeniable. It is easy to underestimate the power of conversation with the plethora of different communication platforms available. The mere idea of having real, person-to-person interaction gives most people hives these days. I have learned that the simplest interactions can raise business deals to new levels and poor interactions can tarnish a business reputation for years, if not in its entirety.
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About Jessica Parker
Jessica Parker is an avid outdoorsman with a knack for making people smile. As a Minnesotan, if she is not fishing, it’s a guarantee to see her in the kitchen cooking with her beloved German Shorthair Pointer by her side. As the Office Coordinator for ETS with an extensive background in corporate customer service, she takes great pride in the customer experience.