Your customer has a question, but wait – the customer service guy had to leave early today. The whole team has a summer outing. It’s after hours, they’re all asleep.
But the customer’s inquiry is urgent. The customer is waiting. What do you do?
Your company may have a designated customer service team tasked with responding to customer inquiries and solving customer-related complaints. Just because this team exists does not mean that excellent customer service should be confined to that group of people. In fact, customer service should be a component of everyone’s job description, from the CEO and founders to the maintenance staff and IT department.
Here we take a look at how fundamentals of customer service such as compassionate communication and efficiency can be relevant to various positions throughout your organization.
The founders or executive team of a company set the tone for the rest of the employees. By implementing a supportive and welcoming atmosphere and setting the expectation that a positive and supportive team is essential for the success of the brand, your staff will adopt that same attitude toward coworkers and customers. Think of it in terms of the trickle down theory. If you see your CEO exuding positive energy and being excited about their work, you’ll feel more inspired to deliver that same outlook in your encounters throughout the day.
In addition to building a customer-minded culture, the executive team has direct input when building its team. There are qualities you definitely want for customer service representatives, like listening and problem solving skills, but you’ll also want to ensure the rest of the team meets these same standards for consistency of customer service throughout departments.
Employee candidates should show qualities such as:
- Initiative and ambition
- Empathy and sympathy for others
- Receptive to feedback
- Positive outlook
Your c-suite execs must have these qualities, and they must be willing to get their hands dirty. It might not be their day-to-day job, but they have to be prepared and willing to answer customer questions, respond to complaints, and learn and grow from customer feedback.
Front Office Staff
The person you put at the front desk of your office is incredibly important, as they can set the tone for the rest of the customer’s experience with your business. From simply acknowledging a customer’s presence in the office to politely answering the phones, the front office staff should be friendly and welcoming.
Beyond these tasks, the front office team members should be knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of your business in order to accurately direct customers to the appropriate staff member for further assistance. The efficiency and accurateness of this process can go a long way in keeping customers happy.
We’d guess your front office staff is often on the phone, too. Your team must remember that facial expressions aren’t visible, so smiles and positivity must be conveyed by voice, instead!
Speaking of phones, everyone on staff should know how to transfer calls and check voicemail. If the person who is usually responsible for answering calls has a sick day, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to have a full eight hours of dropped calls and unanswered voicemails.
The marketing team has direct knowledge of a company’s customers and their relationship with the brand, because they’re developing campaigns to reach this audience.
Now, more than ever, marketers find themselves at the forefront of customer service inquiries as they respond to social media posts, online reviews, e-mails and more. Although customer service may not be a line-item in the social media manager or publicist’s job description, these folks must understand that their customer service skills are tremendously important.
If a customer posts a product suggestion via social media, the manager should share this feedback with their internal team and respond to the customer with an update, while publicly responding in appreciation of the comment. If a customer responds to a press release complaining about an update to the service, the publicist should put them in touch with the appropriate person to resolve the issue. No conversation should be ignored, but rather passed to a company representative that can best assist the customer.
If you work with a tech-based company, like I do, hiring a knowledgeable IT staff is incredibly important. They need to be innovative and efficient, but they also need to support customer inquiries and resolve issues on behalf of clients. For excellent customer service from the IT department, team members need to speak in laymen’s terms without making the customer feel like they’re belittling their questions or concerns.
A great way for the IT staff to go above-and-beyond with customer service is to create an open dialogue with clients. For software companies, the user experience reigns supreme and can be improved by a team that listens to customer feedback and implements innovative solutions.
All Teams, All Departments
The shipping department. Accounting. Behind-the-scenes chefs, assistants, product managers, etc. Everyone.
Depending on your particular business, you may have a number of employees you wouldn’t expect to ever come in direct contact with customers.
But it happens.
- These employees meet customers at public events, work-related or otherwise.
- They coincidentally walk in the front door of your office at the same time.
- They answer ringing phones when no one else is around.
- They participate in community groups, coach little league teams, and volunteer for local organizations.
- They participate in social media and online forums. Not to mention their LinkedIn profile associating them with your company just a short search of their name away.
Everyone you hire becomes a face of your company. If they’re asked a question, they should be prepared to respond appropriately, provide the right answers (or the contact that can get the customer the right answers) and positively exude the attitude your company expects from its customer service representatives.
It’s important for growing and established businesses to have a top-notch customer service team, but it shouldn’t stop there. Ensure that your employees at every level have at least a basic understanding of customer service by hiring the right team, offering in-house training and setting expectations from day one. Ensuring your customers are happy at every touch-point will help bring much success to your company.
About the author
Ian Landsman is the founder of Helpspot, a help desk software for customer service professionals. He writes a regular blog about the fundamentals of excellent customer service, titled The Delightenment Blog. Follow Ian via Twitter and LinkedIn.