8 Customer service skills you can teach to your staff
Customer service is one of the most important jobs in any business so it’s important your team have good customer service skills.
If you’re a small business, customer service duties might be shared out across a number of different people who don’t necessarily have a customer service background.
While this is a great way to make sure there’s always someone available to deal with your customer’s queries, you still need to make sure your staff have the skills they need to do the job properly.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to teach your staff the skills they need to provide great customer service.
Here are 8 different customer service skills you can teach your staff.
When it comes to customer service there are few skills that will serve you better than patience.
There will always be those tricky callers who phone in time and again seemingly just to have a bit of a moan. It’s important though to always remain professional and helpful however challenging the caller may be. That’s where patience comes in.
There are lots of ways you can teach staff to be patient from simply reminding them each day to stay cool calm and collected, to trying some more structured teaching methods.
One proven method that will help your staff to be more patient is to learn mindfulness. Today there are lots of great apps that can help you to learn and practice mindfulness, with one of the best known being headspace.
Right now, you can try it for free, and it will help your staff stay cool under pressure.
Whenever you’re offering customer service, especially over the phone, listening is vital.
Not only is it important to get all the information right so you can resolve the customers issue as quickly as possible, but if an error occurs that makes it obvious one of your team hadn’t been listening all hell could break loose.
If someone already isn’t happy, it’s only going to get worse if they don’t think they’re being taken seriously. That’s why listening is so important.
There’s loads of great free information online that you can give to your staff to help them to listen better. This Ted Talk is a great start.
3. Phone Skills
There’s a lot of overlap when it comes to listening and phone skills, but it’s still worth treating them as different skills to make sure your staff get them right.
One area to focus on is how to use the phone itself. If you’ve got an internal phone system that allows transfers make sure everyone knows how to use it.
Similarly, in order to provide a professional image you should come up with a procedure for how your staff will answer the phone.
This makes sure your brand is always well represented and your callers get a great first impression.
You can create all the tools your need to teach this one yourself. Make sure every new starter gets given all the information on how to use their phone and how you’d like them to take calls.
You can even have a little quiz with the rest of the team as an icebreaker.
4. Note taking
It’s all well and good listening, but if you can’t take notes properly then you’ll forget all the information you got in the phone call.
While you don’t need to learn old fashioned shorthand to get by in business, proper note taking is definitely a skill that should be practiced.
When someone is talking on the phone it can be hard to keep up when you’re taking notes, so if you can provide staff with some training on how to do this, they’ll be much more comfortable taking messages, and will generally provide a better quality of service.
There are some great guides online about note taking (like this one here) that you can give to your staff to help them take notes better.
It’s a worthwhile investment as good note taking will help you to keep track of what’s really going on with a customer’s enquiry.
5. CRM management
You’ve probably got some kind of CRM system in place in your business, and if not, you should. A CRM system won’t just help you keep track of your orders, it will give you a place to keep all your notes about your customers and the enquiries they’ve made. You can even use it to market more effectively to your existing customers.
If you are using a CRM system however you need to make sure everyone in the business is using it properly to get the most out of it.
If you’ve got duplicate accounts for the same customer and notes left all over the place it’s difficult to get a full picture of what’s actually going on when a customer calls in with an issue.
Typically, your CRM provider will have some short free courses available online as to how to use their system. It’s a good idea to get everyone in your business to take these courses to make sure they’re using the system correctly.
If you’re taking things really seriously with some of the bigger CRM’s you can take independent courses and get accredited as an expert in your chosen CRM.
The better you and your staff know your CRM the more organised and productive your business will be.
6. Managing Payments
Managing payments can be tricky because there’s a lot of legal aspects that need to be taken into account, so it’s important to do it right.
With that said there’s no reason why every member of your team can’t be trained to use the tills or to take orders online.
When it comes to taking orders online and over the phone there are a number of different services you could be using which means your staff will have to know how to take and refund payments using a variety of different systems.
At first this can seem a little overbearing for some staff, particularly if they’ve never dealt with transactions before and they’re worried about getting something wrong.
A good way to start is to introduce them to one system – taking payment via a card reader for example. Once they have this mastered they can branch out onto the other methods you use in the business, and from there they can work their way up the more complicated processes like issuing refunds and creating vat receipts.
Anyone who takes and refunds payments on a regular basis knows how easy it is, but for those who have never done it before it can be a nerve wracking process.
Give your staff plenty of opportunity to practice taking payments and soon you’ll be one step closer to having a team that is fully cross-trained in customer service skills.
7. Emotional Intelligence
Customer service can be difficult. That’s why patience is so important. However, alongside patience emotional intelligence plays an important role.
Emotional intelligence means your ability to understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of other people.
Often, providing customer service can involve some highly-emoted conversations. If you have someone down the other end of a phone screaming at you because their order has been lost by the courier it can be easy to react in anger yourself.
But as we all know reacting angrily to a customer isn’t acceptable.
Improving your emotional intelligence makes you more able to deal with other people’s negative emotions without having a negative reaction yourself.
A great way for you and your team to be able to practice and improve their emotional intelligence is to do customer service workshops.
By workshopping some of the more difficult and highly emotional calls that your staff will have to handle, you give them the opportunity to practice controlling their emotions to stay polite, professional and friendly even in the face of the angriest customers.
These are some great ideas for customer service roleplays.
8. Understanding the Organisation
Often when someone’s providing customer service they’ll need to liaise with other parts of the business.
For example, you could be an ecommerce company so your team will need to talk to the warehouse to see if an order has gone out.
You could be a private medical practice so the receptionist taking the call will need to get information from one of the doctors.
Whatever it is, there will always be situations where a customer’s enquiry can’t be managed by the customer service rep alone.
This can cause a problem however.
With some employees, particularly if they’re new, there can be a surprising lack of understanding of the ins and outs of how the business actually works.
This is a problem as it means when a customer does call in with a complex enquiry the person from customer service taking the call is more likely to provide the wrong information, or will simply be unable to provide an answer.
To prevent this, it is important to make sure everyone in the business, whether they’re in customer service or otherwise, should spend some time working in other departments in the business.
That way everyone will have a better understanding of how the business works as a whole and your customer service team will be better equipped to deal with customer enquiries when they come in.
Outsource Customer Service With alldayPA
At alldayPA we specialise in providing outsourced telephone answering that can help you to provide better customer service.
If you want to know more about how we can support your customer service team or how you can fully outsource your customer service department get in touch with us today.
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