Post Update: Article updated October 26, 2020, and originally published on November 20, 2018, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
All businesses have among their priorities to provide excellent customer service, or at least they should. According to research, American Express stated that 90% of Americans decide whether or not to do business depending on the quality of the customer service they received. The best service often depends on the industry you serve. Customers in different industries have different service expectations. Customer service skills that work in one industry don’t always work in another.
But some customer service skills are universal. They cut across every industry and every business sector. They are skills that every employee needs to excel at their job. They are skills that usually come into play when working directly with customers.
Working in customer service may sound easy, but agents must have various skills to deliver customer satisfaction.
Having these skills can help you cultivate better relationships with customers (and prospects), boosting customer loyalty and driving profitability:
Listening skills are a must when serving as a customer service professional. This skill is critical for “wowing” customers with epic customer service. It’s the number one customer service skill. Train your employees to listen closely to what customers say and how they say it.
Being attentive to what and how they say things can help you identify a customer’s real issue.
Train your staff to listen to the words and put themselves in the position of the customer. What would the customer want to hear from you and your business? By actively and attentively listening, you create the foundation for a better customer experience.
When a customer calls a company because they are frustrated or confused and need help, your customer service representatives should have patience. It is reasonable for them to be stressed when calling. That’s why patience is required of all customer service agents.
Employees need to have the patience to help customers with all of their issues calmly, and effectively. Excellent service is trumps fast service and provides better results every time.
Communication skills are paramount when you’re providing customer service. But you need to be careful about how a person’s communication skills translate into everyday language. Train your employees to err on the side of caution whenever they are in a questionable situation.
Make sure everything you do from a customer-service standpoint is clear and concise. Every customer who calls for help should walk away with 100% clarity on where they stand and what steps are next. If your customer service communication is not clear, it can lead to more issues in the future.
The best customer service people know their product or service inside out. Product/service knowledge can be why customers contact companies when they have issues. If your employees don’t have this knowledge, it can undermine a customer’s trust and confidence in the company. So, make sure your people undergo extensive product/service training.
Language is a critical part of persuasion. People create impressions through the words they use. Small changes in a person’s speech, like using more positive words, can make a difference. They make an impact by affecting the way customers “hear” what you say.
Train customer service people to use positive language. For example, if a customer calls in looking for a new product that is not in stock, you can answer in two ways:
“That product is not available until next week.”
“That product will be available next week.”
Both sentences say the same thing, but one sounds positive and reassuring.
In the old days, customers only called when they had an issue. Yet, now they communicate with your business through different platforms. They either call you, communicate with your business through social media, email, or chat.
Whatever way your customers reach you, you need top-flight people that can “read” customers. It’s a critical part of the personalization process. This skill is essential because the last thing you want is an employee that “misunderstands” customers, upsetting them.
Smart employees stay calm when things get hectic, and confusion reigns. People like this can often influence other people during a crisis. The best customer service reps know they can’t let customers get to them, or heated customers force them to lose their cool. Instead, they need to be the eye of the storm when customers are angry.
Last but not least, empathy is a required skill. When your customer service team demonstrates empathy with customers, it significantly impacts their bond with the brand or business. Little details can make a customer feel special and be loyal to the company.
Being empathic doesn’t mean being emotional. It means, be comprehensive with your customer, letting them know you understand their situation. Having empathy can also help you with angry customers.
These skills cut across every industry and business sector and help your reps build rapport and confidence in customers who contact you. They can help your agents deliver the best customer service, boosting customer loyalty, and driving profitability. According to Psychology Today, the experience consumers have with a brand is vital, and it goes beyond the brand’s service or product’s features.
As mentioned before, every industry has to have specific customer service skills.
Providing great customer service makes your business grow. Why? It generates happy clients who refer you to others. Experts call this promotional approach, “word of mouth advertising.”
If you’re like many law firms, however, you’re not that good at customer service. Poor customer service can cost you clients.
Improving customer service generates new clients, boosts profitability, and brand loyalty.
The biggest challenge for businesses is motivating employees to adopt a customer-centric attitude.
Adopting a customer-centric attitude means providing positive experiences both before and after you acquire a client. That drives repeat business, customer loyalty, and firm profits.
The four best practices for instilling a customer-centric attitude are:
Here are seven steps you can take to boost customer service skills at your firm:
The first contact is critical—A crucial step is how you answer the phone. Make sure a human does it; someone friendly, outgoing, and patient, who goes the extra mile to help clients. Empower them to make decisions and do efficient problem-solving. Also, consider an answering service for 24/7 coverage.
Review your intake process—Examine your intake process closely. If you don’t have a systematized intake system, create one. Identify the steps needed to onboard a client successfully, review the tasks in the process, make a checklist for every new client.
Automate client agreements—Create standard client agreements to serve as basic starting documents. You can then tailor the arrangements to meet the client’s situation. Then automate them. That streamlines the process, saves time, and eliminates errors.
Employ standard forms—Using standard forms also streamlines the process, saves time, and eliminates errors. Software tailored to law firms can help you create document templates for the firm. Then make sure everyone can access them. You can then adapt these forms to your unique intake needs.
Explain policies clearly to clients—Explain policies and practices clearly when onboarding clients. That helps create a positive customer experience. It’s as critical as listening to a client’s story and discussing fees.
Track new client activities—Customer-centric law firms track client activities, like scheduled meetings, court appointments, and follow-ups, closely. Store these details in one place. That way, you can service your clients properly. Set reminders to let you know things like when to call back a client or notify them of developments in their cases.
Use collaboration platforms—Using email to communicate and collaborate with clients is not secure. Instead, use collaboration platforms and tools to help you and your team members manage onboarding tasks quickly and efficiently.
Customer service is the lifeline of your business. In today’s competitive markets, you can’t afford to ignore customer service. Implement or improve all these skills to provide excellent customer service and grow your business.