Research

The 10 Commandments of Customer Service That Work

Customer service is the lifeblood of any business. If you get it wrong, you could find that your enterprise is heading down an unhealthy road. 

There are a handful of practices that you should have in place to keep the blood pumping through your business's veins. Think of these as fundamental commandments that are non-negotiable. By doing so, your business will thrive and stay healthy. 

1. You shall listen

Customers ring you when they need support and help. Some of them are frustrated and a little angry. Let them vent their emotions while you actively listen to their complaints.

When they let out their emotional tirade, you need to sift the noise from the actual problem. Empathize with the customer.

Listen to the tone and the words they are using and anticipate what they will say next. That requires you to listen with awareness. 

Paraphrase what you have been told. That helps show the customer you have been listening and enables you to establish that you have understood the problem.

2. You shall proactively identify needs 

This requires you to look at your product or service from a fresh perspective. Can you spot any new problems or issues a customer may have? 

You can do this through focus groups. Another option is to look at your competitors and see what their customers are dissatisfied with. Are there issues that you share in common with your competition? Have you stumbled upon new problems?

Of course, you can't anticipate every single issue. Yet, you're enhancing your customer service by proactively looking for them.

3. You shall not get technical

You love your product, and so do your staff. You can sit there talking about it all day with technical jargon thrown in. After all, you know your stuff.

However, your customers may not be that well-versed in the language of your industry. When they ring with frustration, using terms they don't understand will only confuse them and heighten their frustration.

Writers use the Hemingway app to ensure that their content meets a specific reading level (typically equivalent to a Grade 6 level at school). That's because they want their audience to understand the material. 

Use the same approach with your customer service. 

4. You shall take your time

Imagine ringing a company to talk about a problem you have with their product. The customer service rep tries to rush you through the process. They are concerned about hitting a metric that shows how many phone calls they have answered for the day. 

At the end of the call, which only lasted several minutes, the rep insists they have helped you. You are left with a half-hearted solution and some doubt about whether it will work.

How would you feel after the call? Not that happy.

Why would you want to do that to your customers? 

Don't treat customer service as something that has to be rushed. Help your customers without confining the support to a time frame. Take as long as it needs to resolve the issue truly.

Then your customers will know you care and stay committed to you. 

5. You shall apologize 

Elton John had a hit with "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." It can be challenging to say, especially when you think you haven't done anything wrong.

Yet, apologizing is a powerful tool in customer service. Just think back to when a business offered you profuse apologies for the trouble they caused, even if it was a minor problem.

What did you think about the company? Did you leave in a rage, or did your heart softens, and you forgive them?

Apologize to your customers, even when you think there is nothing to apologize. A customer had to take time out of their day to contact you. That's an inconvenience you need to say "sorry" for. 

6. You shall appreciate your customers 

Without your customers, you don't have a business. Let them know how much you appreciate them. 

Don't save special treatment for only a select few. Have the same level of gratitude for new customers as you do for loyal ones.

It could be your sincere "thanks" that have made your customers stay with you. 

Make gratitude an integral aspect of your customer service. You always know that there is a possibility that customers could switch to a competitor, but they don't. That's something to thank them for. 

7. You shall get feedback 

Some people's lives are devoted to striving for improvement. It is a constant desire for betterment at a personal level. It allows you to become a leader in your industry as a company. 

Yet, how can you improve if you aren't aware of the issues you need to focus on? That is where feedback comes in. 

We all love to hear what we're doing right. We aren't so keen on hearing where we have screwed up. However, getting someone to honestly tell us what they think needs fixing is a huge step in improving your business.

Ask your customers what they find frustrating. Celebrate genuine complaints because they make you aware of things you might have overlooked.

Getting others to highlight the negatives allows you to remove your blind spots. 

8. You shall reply quickly

Have you ever called a company or sent them an email to find yourself playing the waiting game? The phone isn't answered, or you don't get a response back from your email until two or three weeks later. 

By then, it's probably too late to soothe the irritation you're feeling. 

Does the above scenario reflect your business? That's a tricky question, but remember we touched upon feedback in the last section. 

Respond quickly to your customers' inquiries and problems. 

If there will be a delay in replying, let them know. Tell them why there is a delay and how long it will take to get back to them. 

Apologize for the inconvenience and thank the customers for their patience and loyalty.

9. You shall have many channels

The internet is fantastic. It provides people with a range of options to reach out to you. But servers can crash. Technical issues, such as computer bugs, may arise that interrupt communication channels. 

That's why you need more than one way for customers to contact you. If your phone system goes down, you still have email. If the email servers crash while trying to repair your phone system, social media is available. 

By providing an omnichannel approach to customer service, you have a plethora of options in which you can offer support. When one channel becomes unavailable, you have your backups. 

With all these options, you can respond quickly to your customer!  

10. You shall treat your customers like humans 

It can be easy to think of your customers as merely names in a database or a disembodied voice on the phone. 

If you don't have face-to-face contact with them, you may consider that they are less than human. They are anonymous individuals. You have depersonalized them. 

But your customers are indeed real people. They have hopes, dreams, feelings, and emotions, just like you. Your product or service helps to fulfill these hopes and dreams. That's why you created it. 

You identified the pain points people have, and your business addresses those. 

Customer service reps experience emotions when they talk to someone over the phone. It could be a customer that starts off angry and, through the skill of your customer service team, ends up very happy. 

If you fear that you may think your customers are not human, arrange a meet-up with them. It could be via a conference around your business or a webinar. Then you can see them face-to-face, physically or virtually. 

Now your customers become human. 

Your business will grow 

If you make the 10 commandments we listed the unwavering blueprint for your business, you will set yourself up for customer service success. 

When your customers receive top-notch support, they won't be tempted to leave.

Don't think that these commandments are only for your customer service department. They need to serve as standard practice in all departments within your business. 

Then you will find your business humming.