How to Improve Customer Relations
While customer relations are at the core of any business, it’s a responsibility often left to the most inexperienced members of a team. It will make no difference how state-of-the-art your product is, if your customer service is lackluster. The customer service team is the face of your business and the experience the customer has with your team members is what they will remember most. If your company is floundering when it comes to customer relations, it is time to revive your team.
Hiring the Right Person for Customer Relations
You have to start by recruiting the right types of people to work in your customer service department. When hiring a customer services rep, it helps to have a checklist to ensure you hire for certain criteria. Look for the following important personality traits:
- Empathy: A good customer service rep needs to be patient, kind and empathetic. You can check for these traits with situation-based questions that put a potential employee in the customer’s shoes. Rephrase these questions a few times to ensure that the interviewee is consistent with their behavior.
- Diligence: Providing good customer service sometimes requires seeing a problem through to the final resolution. This necessitates representatives who are willing to go the extra mile, whether it be by staying late or following up to ensure that the customer is left feeling 100% satisfied. Ask them what their expectation is when dealing with a customer relations agent to see if it matches your expectations.
- Perseverance: Sometimes being the face of a business can get ugly. A customer service rep needs to be able to swallow their pride and accept customer criticism. During the interview, ask behavior-based questions to determine their strategy behind defusing customer complaints, such as what they have done in the past to handle upset customers.
The Importance of Continual Training
The most powerful tool a customer service representative has is knowledge – knowledge of the product they represent, the business they stand behind and performance expectations. Lack of knowledge, severely handicaps your customer service department, causing customer relations to suffer.
Continually provide information that helps reps excel in customer service. Information about changes in a product or company policy is critical and could help reps during customer interactions. For example, if your customer service reps don’t know about a recent upgrade, they won’t be able to help a customer obtain it. When your staff is unable to assist customers in a meaningful and relevant way, it severely strains customer relations.
Continually provide feedback on practices and techniques for resolutions. You can use real life scenarios where a representative excelled at providing customer satisfaction to demonstrate your expectations. You can also use a customer situation that did not go well as a learning tool. Ask customer service agents what went wrong at each step, and what the service rep should have done to avoid conflict.
Feedback is an important step toward inspiring your employees to perform better. When employees know what they are doing right, it motivates them to keep up the good work. When employees know how to improve, it motivates them to change. Without the constructive feedback to guide employees, they can get stuck making unintentional mistakes or flat lining their performance.
Lead by Example
Above all else, you should always try to provide an example of what excellent customer service looks like. A leader who practices what they teach not only commands respect, but also becomes a role model to emulate. Once you instill these practices, your customer service department can make effective improvements in the customer experience which will repay you again and again.