Customer service skills are a fundamental part of every business, especially in the hospitality and service industry. They help both managers and employees deal with different types of customers.
Your products matter, but as long as you adopt the wrong strategies to serve your customers, you risk losing the most loyal ones. The first and foremost thing you need is to make customers happy and satisfied.
Here’s a list of the most important customer service skills you and your staff need to have. You can use this list to work on your skills, find good staff for your business, or train your existing employees.
Customers may talk about the same problems over and over again. They’ll go into minor details. They’ll hit the roof.
The last thing you want to do is to get impatient and flee the conversations. Patience allows you to listen to customers without offending them. Patience allows you to find the solution to their complaints in a calm manner.
Stick to your customers until the problem is resolved. Seeing your effort to stay by their side will make them come back to you for years to come.
When customers come for a complaint, they want a quick solution. Sometimes, all it takes is a 10% off voucher or a free inexpensive product to cool them down. That’s why you need to be flexible enough, and allow your staff to be flexible enough, in certain situations.
You can’t serve customers well if you’re not concerned about customers’ needs, wants, and well-being. Besides, concern is also about keeping the reputation of your business, which directly affects how your business keeps its position on the market.
Respect means you treat customers in a polite and caring way. Customers may complain about the attitude of a server or the quality of your products. This is when you need to be respectful.
Listen to them carefully without a condescending attitude and constant interruptions. Offer thoughtful responses and show sincere behaviors.
When you’re attentive to customers’ complaints or questions, you’re letting them know they’re being heard. And when you’re attentive, you can find solutions to almost any problems.
Listen to what customers say, make eye contact, nod, respond timely and appropriately. Customers will appreciate that, and if they’re angry, they can calm down pretty quickly.
You know it, some customers can come to you with a harsh attitude. They may yell, scream, and curse. They may insult, blame, and offend you. Some customers are simply more bad-tempered. But all they want is their voice to be heard.
If you can control yourself and stay calm, you’ll avoid elevating the situation to an unresolvable conflict. Practice deep breathing and staying calm in those circumstances.
Empathy means you understand what customers say and how they feel by putting yourself in their shoes. It’s easier said than done, of course. But you can practice empathy by asking yourself these questions:
- How would you feel if you were in the same situation?
- How would you expect to be treated if you were in the same situation?
Communication skills are among the most important customer service skills. They include how you and your staff interact with customers via words, body language, tone, facial expressions, attitude, and beyond.
Practice and train your staff on the best communication practices:
- How to show emotions on the face
- How to keep the tone polite and calm
- Words and phrases you can use to cool customers down
Communication not only involves giving words, expressions, and responses. It’s also about listening to the other side of the conversation.
Listening skills involve active listening and effective listening.
Active listening means you listen to customers attentively, give signals that you’re listening to them, and react accordingly.
Effective listening means you understand and interpret exactly what customers are talking about (or thinking about). You don’t want to misunderstand their ideas and give the wrong solutions.
Customers hate it when business owners and managers shift the responsibility to customers’ and other parties’ shoulders. For example, you blame the customer for using your product wrong, or the server for serving customers carelessly, or the shipping company for delivering late.
Even though it may have nothing to do with you, you shouldn’t heat up the conversation by avoiding the problem. You train your staff, so it’s part of your responsibility. Customers are your advocates, so you should help them out. Being able to apologize and offer support is a huge plus.
Not every customer is going to be happy with the solution you offer. This is when persuasiveness comes into place. Being able to persuade customers can help you avoid expensive compensation and customer dissatisfaction.
12. Positive attitude
Customers love it when you show a positive attitude in everything you do. Practice and train your staff to stay positive when serving customers, facing complaints, and finding solutions. This way customers are more satisfied and can quickly calm down.
Sometimes, a bit of thinking out of the box can make your business stand out from the crowd. Offer various creative solutions to customers’ problems can make the problem-solving process easier for you.
Problems happening to customers aren’t always easy to resolve. Sometimes, it takes more than a coupon or a free meal to keep them happy.
You can think of situations that may happen and prepare in advance. Think about the steps you’re going to take if certain problems occur. That way you’re not confused and inefficient when difficulties happen to your business.
Assertiveness means you and your staff can take control of the situation. You’re not passive and uncertain. And customers can trust that you can solve the problems efficiently.
Be confident and consistent in how you talk, act, ask questions, and take action. That’s how you show your assertiveness.
Allow your staff to be assertive and decisive when dealing with customers’ problems. This includes enabling your staff to make their own decisions in certain situations. Customers are unhappy if your staff are unsure of what to do and have to run back to you asking for permission.
If customers complain about a salty dish, make sure your staff can be decisive enough to give that customer a free meal or a discount.
16. Conflict resolution
Conflict resolution requires you and your staff to have a good combination of skills, including mediation, negotiation, emotional intelligence, etc. The goal is to recognize and understand customers’ problems, then come up with practical and acceptable solutions.
It’s time to work on these customer service skills
Working on these customer service skills surely takes time and effort. But having them means your business, your staff, and yourself have come to another level.
So, don’t be afraid to strengthen skills you’ve already had and work on skills you need to improve. Learn to be a better manager. Provide training and support for your workforce so they thrive with you, together.
But what if your customers are rude? Here’s how to handle those situations.