Customer Service is one of the most important departments in a company. The first contact with customers starts from there. It is there where customer is given help or is referred to the next person who can solve his or her issue, where one ask for information and so on. Whether over the phone, on Internet or in person, people working in the customer service department can affect positively or in a negative way the company’s image. It is proved that the majority of customers which stop doing business with a company are due to the bad customer service they experienced. On the other hand, a good service could bring customers, since one satisfied customer not only will keep doing business with you, but also, he or she will recommend the company to another one and so on. That is why a company investing in a good customer service brings more money and a good image of its business, while it is five times most costly to bring a new customer, than to keep one.
In fact, customer service department is found in almost every field of business: in administration, retail, financial activities, wholesale or insurance. The most part of customer service workers is concentrated in administration and support services, followed by retail, credit activities, wholesale and insurance. Except the insurance and financial, which need a special licenses, for the rest it is asked for a high degree diploma. The training is offered by the employer, usually, during two or three weeks at workplace. In addition, you have to prove qualities such as: good communication skills, good knowledge of communication technologies, solving problems skills, patience in listening and dealing with all kind of customers, and also interpersonal skills. There are many positions as a customer service, depending on the field of activity. In retail you can work as a sales agent, cashier, and information clerk. In management you could occupy a position in advertising, promotion or marketing departments, in public relations, as sales manager, or in training and development. You can also work in Communication and Health Services as health educator, social and human service assistant or social worker.
So, the first thing a customer representative has to keep in mind is a favorable impression to create to a customer who interacts with. It is a teamwork oriented to the customer satisfaction and to a good company’s image. There are three rules to follow: listen the customer, empathize and take charge. Firstly you, as a customer service representative, have to listen carefully the customer’s issue and give him the impression that nothing it is more important than him. Secondly, the customer should have a personalized service, by naming him, knowing his address, phone number and so. Thirdly, talking with customers about technical problems it is not practical in some way, he need to know about the benefits of such or such product or service. It is recommended that you know the competition, and not to criticize it; a good impression is even if you recommend it, when your company cannot satisfy customer’s needs. With everything clear in mind, the customer service worker is expected to take the best decision to solve the issue. It could be a change, a refund, or a referral to a superior.
The work implies verbal and non verbal communication.
The verbal communication makes the message to be understood while the nonverbal one translates the attitude. That is why a customer service representative must be clear, slower than normally in expressing himself verbally, matching customer’s tone, speed and vocabulary. On the other hand, his attitude should to be friendly, accompanied by a smile, eye contact, if appropriate, taking in consideration the divers aspects of every culture. In some culture for example the eye contact is to avoid, so the worker should be aware of cultural different rules. Customer service worker also should stand erect with respect for the customer’s space. The professional attitude has to be kept, even if the service is over the phone, so out of customer’s view. To be positive and friendly is an attitude that can be transmitted to the customer even on the phone.
Many times, workers from customer service face challenging situations. This would be inconveniences due to a non delivery in time of one order, or delivery of a wrong product, repeated problems with the equipment, or a customer mistreated by other coworker which made the customer very angry. Since the people we interact in this department come from different backgrounds, they act differently. A good attitude starts with calming down the angry customer talking to him calmly, never contradicting him nor criticizing the others. Then apologize for the inconvenient which had upset the person. It is also recommended to find a solution by implying the customer in it. Using we, us , instead of I is an example. You can also imply the customer by presenting some solutions and let him chose from them. Also, the resolution must exceed or at least equal the customer’s loss. An example is a full refund for a bad product in addition with a coupon with some percents off on a future sale. A follow-up by phone or by email is also required to have a customer satisfied.
As said previously, the customer service implies not only the face-to-face interactions, but also the service over the phone, whether the land phone, cell phone, tablet, computer based voice over Internet Protocols which means there is no eye contact with the customer. Everything is concentrated on the voice. There are strategies to keep in mind while dealing with a customer in such conditions: a calm and enthusiastic tone, a normal volume, short words and sentences, a vocabulary adapted of the customer’s words. Even if the customer does not see you, your tone and attitude betrays you. That is why you have to talk over the phone as if you would be seen. It is recommended to use a speech of around 140 words in a minute, or four syllables a second. An example might be as pronouncing in a second: one-thousand-one; one-thousand-two; one-thousand-three and so on.
So, when you are called by a customer who addresses a complaint, you need to take some steps as: to discern the customer’s issue, describe the solutions, and imply the customer in the resolution, than fix the problem satisfactorily. Sometimes, you need to transfer the customer’s call to other department or coworker. In this case, the customer must be informed about the person and the reason of the transfer, and be asked for his permission to do so. Then you have to avoid the customer’s stress, to explain once again the matter. Instead, you can do it for him, by explaining the coworker what the issue is. If he is put on hold, the customer has to be informed every 20-30 seconds about the progress made on the transfer.
These several practices about the phone customer service can make the difference between a satisfied or unsatisfied customer.
Another means of communication which gains in popularity is E-communication. That means everything done in written, and through Internet. It could be email, social media, company’s web pages and others. This kind of communication is different than the verbal one. It has a different style and structures and implies: letters, reports, online platforms, such as forums. Their message must be brief and focused on one or two points. Their author needs to earn customers attention, without ambiguities and unclear words. They need to offer a cordial service. To make the message easier and faster in transmission, it is recommended to template and to personalize it. This is helpful also in avoiding errors in editing the message. So, you can just add in introduction customer’s name: Mr. X, Mrs. X . There are also some forms to use in the introduction, depending on the situation and relationship with the recipient. To give some examples we can mention here: Mr., Mrs. followed by the name are the most appropriate for a formal message, while those followed by the first name are more informal. Hi, Hello, gives a friendlier tone, and can be used for ongoing communications. Hey, it is to keep for friends or for family business.
As conclusions, one can use: Best Regards, We look forward to serving you in the future, which is meant to avoid indifference.
Between the introduction and conclusion, the message must be clear and brief. The introduction form is followed by a coma, two spaces and then starts the message. After the message it is a two lines and the conclusion form.
It is also not to forget the Subject heading, which must be a short description of the issue, as the example : Re Software Issue . As a written message, it might contain spelling or grammar errors, so it is mandatory to pause before sending it, to check for errors.
Even though it seems more complicated to address this way, the E-communications are a good way to send a message since it is faster and can be kept for afterwards reads.
In conclusion, customer service is a career which trends to expand, due to the number of products and services demanding customer support. There are customer service workers almost in every field, from administration to management passing through retail, health and communication s in banks and insurance services. To succeed in this field you need to be a good communicator, to be patient, to listen to the others concern, to have strong technological skills and interpersonal relationship.