To have a quality staff that respects themselves, their management and their customers, it is imperative to have a good internal customer service program in place.

Remember: The attitude of your heart as a listener is always more important and more obvious than anything that you say in response to someone. Attitude checks are crucial to the continued success of any business!

Customers come to you for your expertise, advice, and experience, as well as for the products and services that you provide. They expect the staff to be able to answer their questions or know where to find answers. Customers want–and expect:

To be heard: and obtain the desired resolution. Even though a customer’s circumstances may seem identical to the circumstances of many other customers, each customer typically still wants to talk through their issues, and your role is to listen.

To get what they want quickly: Happy, hassle-free, and left feeling positive about you. The faster you address the customer’s issues, the happier they will be.

To deal with someone who is knowledgeable: Is your staff equipped??

To deal with a decision maker: A customer’s life is easier if one person can provide answers and make decisions about the resolution of the problem. Customers don’t want to have to repeat their requests over and over as they are referred to other people for decisions–depleting their time, energy and effort.

To be appreciated: Customers have a wide range of options. You should never take for granted their willingness to do business with your organization. It takes little time to express your appreciation for their business, and it sends a positive, reinforcing message to the customer.

Understand the priorities: Ask questions of the customer to ensure that you understand their priority needs. For example, a customer needs a new computer system set up by the start of their fiscal year or a their phone system installed in the next thirty days. Those are priorities and tell the customer that you really care about their needs.

Understand their expectations: Theirs may be more reasonable than you anticipate, and quite easy to satisfy and resolve.

Under-promise and over-perform: Set expectations with customers at a reasonable level, but at a level that allows you to consistently exceed their expectations.

Policies and procedures: in place to protect you. It’s not so much what you say as how you say it. Using the company policy as a reason rarely makes customers happy, so try to use policy as a last resort.

“Responding” to Your Customers!!

Influencing outcomes means managing expectations. (Trust, education, saving face)

Is the person expressing facts orfeelings? Use extra care and sensitivity when in their domain of feelings and opinions.

Silence when the person talking to you is sharing feelings if you do not know what to say. Nod in understanding. Resist the temptation to say something just to say something.

Make encouraging sounds when someone is sharing feelings and they seem to desire some acknowledgement from you. It buys you time to formulate an empathetic response.

Focus on what someone is saying, NOT what you say next.

Listen FOR important issues rather than just merely listening TO them. Listen twice as much as you speak. Remember the old saying about having two ears and one mouth? Becoming this kind of listener is a great way to win friends. There are so many things that you can listen for, such as the speaker’s values, feelings, needs, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Use short responses when the speaker is sharing something very important to them. Longer responses will make the speaker feel impatient because they may feel “de-railed” by your intrusion.

Quality Control – Being on the Same Page!!
**Train of Thought: Explain your “train of thought” to the customer — telling a customer what you are going to do before you do it. For example, you may say, “First, I will ask questions so that I understand exactly what is needed. Then, I will place the order. I will give you a realistic estimate of delivery time. I will call you immediately when it comes in.”Check for agreement: After explaining –check with the customer for agreement: “How does that time frame sound to you?” or “Will that process work for you?”

Bottom line: always put yourself in “their” shoes!

Exercise for Maintaining Quality Customer Service

It is important to fill out a report card for your company each month. For this first month, please answer the following:

1.The first thing I am going to do regarding my company’s customer service is: __________

2.The second thing I am going to do is: ________________

3. The first thing I will do with/for my staff is: __________________

Author's Bio: 

Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, Communications and Image Specialist, and career coach with Transformation Academy, LLC and a Virtual Presentations Coach. She is the author of The Business Professional's Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success, and a contributing author to The Unstoppable Woman's Guide to Emotional Well Being, The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur. She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. Rita is a former Mrs. Nebraska and Mrs. America contestant. She is active in numerous professional organizations, on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands. Rita provides life and career-transforming crash courses to mature teens and adults. These highly effective tools empower individuals to become more accomplished communicators, gain greater confidence in business and social protocol, project a dynamic professional image, acquire the resources for a more successful career, and gain the ability to confidently make presentations in front of others.