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Customer Service

World Class Customer Service, What is it?
Delivering world class customer care means having the capacity to provide a memorable,unforgettable experience to each individual customer.World class customer care is not just about meeting but exceeding customer expectations and looking for opportunities to provide an unexpected wow moments in unique ways.


WIIFM - What's in it for me to provide great customer service?
You don't own the company and perhaps will not be paid more for providing great customer service so why should you bother? Read this article for some insight regarding this.


GROW Service questioning model
Questioning is an essential skill for being able to provide excellenct customer service, follow the below questioning model to identify your customer's exact needs.


The Power of One agent
For every call center agent not in place when scheduled, there’s a huge impact on the Service Level. Read this article to find out more.


7 Defusing Techniques - Defusing angry customers
Seven proven techniques to use with angry customers before they completely blow up in your face.


Empathy Vs Sympathy
Find out a clear explanation of the difference between empathy and sympathy in this article.


Building Customer Rapport
A list of proven strategies to help you build better rapport with your customers


Roles of the customer service manager
Whether it is a service or product your organization offers, the customer service manager plays a crucial role in the whole customer experience. This article lists some of the most important roles of a customer service manager


What is Proactive customer management? (PCM)
Being efficient in conversations with customers is based around getting two fundamental aspects right – the direction of the conversation and the control of the conversation.


What is True Customer loyalty?
There are many ways we can define customer loyalty. A loyal customer is a customer who is extremely satisfied with your service and your after sales service as well that they remain your customer forever.


Greeting customers professionally
Whether you are in a retail store, hotel, receptionist in a company or in any customer facing situation those first few seconds set the tone and create that crucial first impression that your customer will have about you and your company.

There are many ways we can define customer loyalty. A loyal customer is a customer who is extremely satisfied with your service and your after sales service as well that they remain your customer forever. You not only get repeat business from your loyal customers but they are the ones that are happy to refer their friends and family to you as well.

So going deeper into loyalty, first lets look at the 3 main components of customer loyalty :

1- Customer Satisfaction – customers need to feel that what they get is what they were both promised and expected.
  
2- Customer Involvement – a reflection of how much the customer has invested in the relationship and how difficult it would be to sever the links.
 
3-  Customer Affinity – how customers feel emotionally about the brand


So what is it that drives customer loyalty?


With the exception of true loyalty each of these as a standalone tactic for retaining customers is fragile and unlikely to prevent customers from defecting.

Incentive loyalty – competitors may offer a better incentive. Customers may use incentives from more than one organisation therefore does not truly drive loyalty

Inertia loyalty – contract end is a pain free way to defect. 

Lazy loyalty– a nearer or more convenient store could encourage customers to defect

Monopoly loyalty – drives resentment. Not really loyalty. As soon as customers have a choice more likely to defect

Price loyalty – competitors may undercut and offer lower prices and better offers. 

Trend loyalty – is fickle and product driven. Competitors may have same product range

All these types of loyalty are so fragile and do not lead to a lifetime loyal customer. So what do you think drives real loyalty ?

Lets look at the daffy model and equation below :


Loyalty = Affinity x Satisfaction x Involvement.


By focusing on increasing Customer's affinity , satisfaction and involvement we do not only end up with a lifetime loyal customer but we also increase our average customer value By focussing on keeping the customer loyal, we increase their annual value to us and the lifetime of that value. Every customer becomes worth more to us.

Lifetime Customer Value :

Average Annual Purchase Value X Potential Lifetime of Purchasing =  Average Customer Relationship Value

Being efficient in conversations with customers is based around getting two fundamental aspects right – the direction of the conversation and the control of the conversation.

The direction of the conversation is about using specific questions to guide the customer through the conversation, getting all of the relevant information from the customer and cutting out anything that is irrelevant. Direction allows us to signpost for the customer when we are taking their enquiry, influences what we are doing and why we are asking them certain questions.

The control is about ensuring the customer that we are in control. By using signposting and questioning, we demonstrate that we are in control and the customer understands that we are working towards resolving their enquiry.

To proactively manage our customer’s conversations, we can use the Proactive Contact Management cycle. By combining our customer service or communication skills (questioning, listening, positive language, building rapport etc) with this cycle, we can be more efficient in the way we manage our conversations and more efficient in the service we deliver. The Proactive Customer Management cycle has four key elements:

1- Signpost

2- Question

3- Listen

4- Acknowledge

To undestand the concept of Proactive customer management better , listen to any conversation between a sales/service agent and  a customer and ask yourself the following questions:

- Who is controlling the situation ? / What evidence supports this?

- Who is asking the majority of questions in the conversation? /What is the impact of this?

-What is the customer feeling about this ? what evidence supports this?

- How is the sales/service representative dealing with this conversation? What evidence supports this ?

- What could the sales/service representative do to improve this conversation ?

 

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What do we mean by Stating/signposting ?

By signposting the direction of the conversation, we are indicating to the customer that we know where the conversation is going and that we are controlling the conversation.

If we signpost the conversation, the customer:
• Understands where the conversation is going and the direction of the conversation
• Understands why they are being asked certain questions
• Has confidence that we are taking them on the journey of answering their enquiry

How do I signpost?

The meaning of signposting is holding a sign to give guidance and direction. To signpost when you are communicating means to give guidance to the other person by giving the information in more organized chunks to make it easier for the other person to understand your complete message. Signposting means using words like First, then you explain the first thing you wish to communicate. Then Second then you start explaining the second thing you wish to say. ..etc.  Its as if you are holding a sign to give better guidance to the other person and make sure they understand you message without any confusion.

 If we DO NOT signpost the conversation, the customer:
• May not have confidence that we are taking them on the right journey to answer their question. 
• May be confused as to why we are asking them certain questions
• Is unsure as to whether we have really understood their enquiry or not. 
 

Questioning

Every time we give the customer information, advice or respond to their question, this should be followed by a question that will invite the customer to speak.
If we ask the right questions at the right time, the customer:
• Will be engaged to either provide information, think about what has been said or confirm their understanding
• Will know when the right time for them to speak is
If we DO NOT ask the right questions at the right time, the customer:
• Is left to drive the direction of the conversation
• Has to think about what they need to know next
• Is not sure if they have been given all the right information
• May try to interrupt or talk over you as there is no clear place for them to speak
• May wait in anticipation to speak and there will be silences
• Will be on the phone for a longer period of time as it takes longer to reach a conclusion
 

Acknowledge

It is important to acknowledge what the customer has said so they know we have understood and that we are able to help them with their enquiry. If we acknowledge what the customer has said, the customer:

• Will feel comfortable that we have understood what they have said
• Will feel confident that we can help with their enquiry

If we DO NOT acknowledge what the customer has said, the customer:

• Will wonder whether we have listened to/understood what they have said
• Will be anxious as to your level of understanding
• Will be concerned as to whether we are answering their enquiry in the most suitable way

Tips for Proactive Customer Management:

- Always use the proactive customer management cycle
- Always SIGNPOST where you are taking the conversation
- Every time information, advice or a response is given to the customer, follow this by a QUESTION to invite the customer to speak, gain further information or confirm understanding.
- Actively LISTEN to the customer at all times to ensure you understand exactly what they need.
ACKNOWLEDGE what the customer has said or how the customer is feeling and reassure them you can help them with their enquiry

Greeting customers , your crucial first impression

Whether you are in a retail store, hotel, receptionist in a company or in any customer facing situation those first few seconds set the tone and create that crucial first impression that your customer will have about you and your company. This may sound simple but it is one of the most important skills you should acquire to be a professional service or customer care agent. and by the way, this applies  also if you provide service over the phone you must work on developing a good warm greeting to your customer.

Always remember that you only have a few seconds to make a great first impression.

Why is greeting so critical?
A lot of things happen. They all take place within the first couple of minutes after a customer enters your store/compay/hotel...etc.. They immediately do a visual assessment: How does your place of business look? Is the merchandise appealing? Is the place welcoming?
when you first greet the customer you are selling yourself first, your business  second, the experience third, and the merchandise/service last. You want to get the customer feeling comfortable as soon as they walk into your place of business.

Remember these 3 greeting rules  :

1. Good Eye Contact
2. Great  Smile
3. Great Opener

So now lets look closer into how to make a professional greeting and introduction that can increase sales of your business as we said previously if you are in retail or providing any kind of service or in any professional business setting where you are tasked with greeting customers, here is how to do it professionally. We will look into two different scenarios , the first one is when a customer is approaching you at your work station. and the second one where you have to move and approach the customer to greet him/her and offer assistance or help.

First Scenario : when a customer is approaching you at your work station/desk :

Step1 : Introduction statement
Step2 : Gather info.
Step3 : Engage them in conversation
Step4 : Build bridges to the next step (whether it's making a sale or serving the customer )

Greeting step 1- Your introduction statement : How about opening up with something like  “ Thanks for coming in!”
 
Think about it. Your customer has an infinite number of choices and a limited amount of time. They could have done anything and yet they came into your store/company.

 

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Greeting step 2 - Gathering Free Information 
After your warm, inviting and professional greeting, you want to engage the customer in conversation. This is how we recommend you do it. You want to exchange names for the sake of personalizing the interaction. 
 
This is an example of how this might sound :
 
“Hi! Thanks for coming in! ,  John at your service sir , Is this your first time in our store/company?”
 
This welcome accomplishes a number of things:
 
It welcomes the customer and puts them at ease. It expresses gratitude for their presence. It is also a form of compliment, because you are complimenting the decision they have made in coming into the store/place of business. It provides the sales associate’s name. It collects the customer’s name, which can be used again throughout the sales process. This strengthens the relationship. There is nothing sweeter to the ears than hearing one’s own name. 
 
But, the key aspect of the above exchange is asking the customer if they have been in the store/business before – that is good information that can be useful to you later on in the conversation.
 
However, during this step of the greeting, your customer is providing all kinds of free information you can use during the upcoming conversation. You can use this free information to help you customize and personalize the offerings you make during the sales process.
Which leads you to step 3 and 4 to engage customers into conversation.

Second Scenario : When you approach customers wondering around  in your work location/store/company...etc.

Imagine this scenario 
The customer enters your store/place of business and a sales person approaches them and asks a question such as:

Can I help you?
Do you want any assistance?
Are you okay there?

come on honestly what do you think the customer's answers will be ?
No, thank you
I’m just browsing
I’m okay

Approaching Potential Customers
The point here is that you will get a greater response to sales questions if you first give the prospect a reason why they should answer. You will close more deals and increase sales. Before asking a question you should state your credentials and give the buyer a potential benefit that they can gain from talking to you. This can take just a few seconds, but it sets the scene and gets the customers talking.

When you first approach a retail customer tell them what you can do for them.
Tell them something, briefly about your experience, position in the business, qualifications, and how you can help them. Introduce yourself as an expert, an advisor, and someone that can help them to make informed choices.

So let’s see how we can change that

Here’s how to increase sales by doubling the number of customers that talk to you. Write a new, brief, introduction that you will now use when approaching customers.

The key elements of your new introduction are:
1. Your name
2. How you can help them ( Experience, qualifications ,..etc.)
3. An open question to start the conversation

6 Important things to remember about greeting :

1- Make the customer feel welcome and appreciated.
2- Make eye contact when greeting the customer.
3- Never address a customer from behind – that’s scary and creates unwanted pressure.
4- Address customers from a reasonable distance -- no shouting across the store/work station.
5-  Create your unique, memorable greeting
6- Never stop greeting! If you pass customers/colleagues  in the store/company, make sure to acknowledge them with a friendly smile!

 Goodluck with  your new customer encounters, remember these first few seconds are crucial so try to make the best of them and create your own unique great warm greeting.


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