Great Customer Service Requires Great Communication Skills

You might be making these six mistakes when dealing with customers, but the fixes are simple

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Service isn’t just about what you do for your customers. It’s also about how you make them feel. Their perceptions of your company are formed the moment they begin interacting with you, whether through a phone call or online.

How you communicate with your customers through every touch point of service has the power to dictate whether a customer will return or recommend you to others, so it is crucial to get it right.

Stephen R. Covey, author of the famous business advice book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, once said, “Communication is the most important single activity of man.” So, have you given plenty of thought to the way you communicate with your customers? You should. The way your brand and your team communicate with people impacts every part of your business.

When you transform your business through great communication, you become something far more powerful — a servant leader. Your customers will perceive this and reward you with brand loyalty and enthusiastic referrals. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are six communication mistakes you can fix within your organization today.

1) Saying “No”

We’ve all heard the old saying that the customer is always right, and if you’ve been in service long enough, you know that sometimes the customer is wrong. But eliminating “no” from your customer communication vocabulary doesn’t mean capitulating to unreasonable demands or giving services away for free. It means recalibrating your communication to become a problem-solver instead of an order-taker.

Your customers are coming to you with some of the worst problems they will encounter as homeowners. During these stressful times, they won’t want to hear negatives like “no,” “unfortunately” or “can’t.” They want proactive solutions. They want to feel like they’re in good hands. If you don’t give them that level of reassurance, they’ll want to take their business elsewhere.

2) Talking at instead of talking with

Customers want to be seen and heard, to be recognized as real people with real problems. They don’t want to be talked down to or feel ignored. No matter how busy your workday has become, it is vital to take time to acknowledge them and to empathize with their problem and truly listen to what they have to say.

Slow down. Give attention before you extract information. Communicate benefits of the service instead of facts, figures and features. Let them know you care about the way service will impact their daily lives. This way builds a trust, showing your customers that they’re more than just a sale to you.

3) Lack of gratitude

We’ve all had bad days, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind. But be careful you and your team aren’t communicating this attitude to your customers. Shift your thinking and encourage your team to do so, too. Every customer who calls your office or reaches out online is a blessing, so make sure they’re treated like it. It’s not a burden to serve — it’s a joy. Get your head and your mouth straight about this issue and you are certain to build customer loyalty and referrals.

4) Faking it

Today’s customers can spot a fake a mile away. They are bombarded all day, every day with marketing, sales pitches and scams. They’ve grown mental armor to resist these forces, and the only thing that will get through is genuine care and service. So, don’t rely too heavily on scripts or gimmicks. Coach your team and empower yourself to be open, genuine and honest with customers. Let them see your company culture of servant leadership as you guide them to the best solutions to their problems, and be sure to verbally thank them for the opportunity to serve.

5) Unavailability

With the rise of online convenience, customers expect to be able to reach you how they want, when they want. Only having one channel of communication, like a phone number answered during certain hours only, will cost you customers. Email, text, social media and online chatbots are all great additions to your office telephone. Opening more lines of communication is another way to serve the customer and grow their trust in you.

6) Avoiding apologies

Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Despite your best efforts, someone on your team will have an off day or another communication error will occur. But there is a path back.

First, own the mistake with no excuses. Tell the customer you messed up. Next, apologize with sincerity and assure the customer that fixing his or her problem is your first priority. Then, resolve the issues and be transparent about next steps, especially as they relate to money. Finally, follow up. Make sure the solution worked and that the customer is happy. These steps can bring an angry customer back from the brink and turn him into a loyal fan of your brand.

Many of these changes represent a shift in thinking, a change in company culture. It’s true that your attitude can dramatically change your reality, so consider where your priorities are. If you put all the emphasis on sales and profits, you’re forgetting where your sales come from in the first place — your customers. When you put your customers’ feelings and experience first, everything else will fall into place.


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