Contrary to what some might believe, there really is a right way and a wrong way to deliver customer service across any industry. You might think that being in an increasingly digital age means that the rules have changed, but common courtesy remains the same.

One of the most common customer service sins? Simply taking the customer for granted and assuming that just one person possibly not getting your best service won’t make much of a difference.

Failing to greet someone in your retail store might be an oversight to you (you’re busy), but a single negative Yelp review can put a startup into a serious downward spiral. If you talk to the companies who make it their sole task to provide customer service, they’ll tell you that so-called common courtesies aren’t actually so common.

A simple “Good morning” can make a world of difference, so each employee ought to be trained to understand and do this.

Where managers step in

Often, it’s not solely the fault of the employee who delivers poor service, but also his or her management. Lead by example, make sure all employees get training when they’re hired and they receive ongoing instruction, and encourage a personal touch.

There’s a fine line between delivering “company standard” greetings and sounding like a robot, so tread carefully. Treat customers the way you would want to be treated.

Another misstep is indulging in too much jargon between employees. Everyone might know the difference between a tall and grande (now), but don’t expect everyone to be schooled in your particular company’s lingo.

Any firm that has direct contact with consumers needs to address them appropriately. In-house jargon sounds pretentious, and you run the risk of turning off your customers.

Communication basics

Don’t forget that listening is a foundation for good customer service, because that’s often what customers want. This is especially critical when you’re handling a problem — whether the customer has a complaint, the product isn’t working, or this is the fifth store they’ve been to in search of a hot pink wig.

Hear the customer out, show her or him that you’re listening, and do your best to fix the problem.

How employees talk to customers is what most people think of when they consider “customer service,” but problems arise when workers speak too quickly. The right tone can also make a big difference; remember, there’s a thin line between curt and efficient. Encourage a conversational tone and a warm voice, especially over the phone.

Finally, avoid multi-tasking when working with customers because although it might feel efficient, it comes across as rude. Employees should proactively provide service and give customers their full attention.


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