5 Customer Service Training Mistakes to Avoid

Great customer service starts with training, and training starts with you as the business owner. If your staff isn’t properly equipped to handle customer requests, chances are that they’ll make mistakes that could be costly to your business.
Want to set your employees up for customer service success? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid during training.

Mistake 1: Training? What Training?

Your small business likely doesn’t have a full-time customer service representative. Even if you do, he or she probably isn’t the only staff member helping out with customer service. Make sure all of your employees are trained to help customers, and have everyone adhere to the same guidelines so that your patrons’ experience is consistent across the board.

Mistake 2: Not Setting Tangible Goals

It’s one thing to tell your staff to answer the phone promptly, but telling someone and holding someone accountable are two different things. Setting concrete customer service goals will help clarify your expectations for employees and give them something to work towards. It will also help you benchmark success and have clear milestones for incentives and rewards.

Mistake 4: Forgetting Your Customers’ Needs

When you have a small staff, it’s tempting to take short cuts to resolve issues so that your team can get back to work. Don’t do it! Remember, your customers don’t just want their issues to be resolved—they want to feel like they’re a priority for your business. Train your staff to take the time needed to really listen to each customer and make sure their needs are met.

Mistake 5: Not Preparing for Bad Situations

Every business deals with unhappy customers from time to time. Leaving it up to your staff members to handle these situations on the fly is a recipe for disaster. Make sure your training includes clear directions on how to handle sticky situations, including a proper escalation hierarchy. They’ll handle complaints much more gracefully if they prepare in advance.

Mistake 5: Lack of Autonomy

Once you’ve trained your staff on how customer service should be handled, let them handle it. Except for difficult cases that require your input, your staff members shouldn’t have to come to you every time there’s a customer service issue. Not only will this type of system become a burden on your time, it will also quickly frustrate your employees. If you have concerns about specific staff members, you may not want them helping out with customer service at all.

The Bottom Line

Educate your staff members on customer service and clearly outline the standards you want them to meet. Make sure to cover the appropriate responses for different types of customer complaints so that no one is taken by surprise. Lastly, give your staff the ability to resolve inquiries on their own when possible—this will speed up the resolution process and give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their customer service efforts.

Customer Service: 6 Tips for Small Businesses

In this era of endless options, customer service truly has the power to make or break a small business. If your customer service is great, you’ll be more likely to retain customers and garner brand loyalty. If your customer service is lacking, people will likely take their time and money elsewhere. Great products and services may attract new customers, but great customer service is what motivates people to keep choosing to do business with you.
These 6 tips will help ensure that your customer service is the best it can be.

1. Be Proactive

Don’t wait for customers to come to you with questions or complaints. If you can offer assistance up front, or identify and fix a problem before the customer complains, you’ll be saving you and your patron valuable time. Not only that, you’ll be fostering a positive relationship that lets the customer know you’re paying attention and eager to help. 

2. Respond Promptly

Whether an inquiry comes in via phone, social media, email, an in-store visit, or some other channel, it’s essential to respond in a timely fashion. No one likes to be stuck on hold for ten minutes or wait a week to hear back via email. Even if you can’t resolve the customer’s issue immediately, getting in touch to let the person know that you’re working on a resolution is vital.

3. Listen up

If you receive the same kinds of complaints and questions on a regular basis, it’s easy to stop listening carefully when customers contact you. Keep in mind that, while customers may be reaching out about a specific issue, they’re not just contacting you for an answer. They also want reassurance that you care about them as an individual and value their business. Make sure to give each patron your full attention.

4. Make It Personal

One of the benefits of technology is that we can use it not just to capture information, but to learn more about the people we interact with. Again, when a customer calls in with a problem, they don’t just want the problem solved—they want to be known and appreciated. Using data such as name, purchase history, personal preferences, and last in-store visit can change an ordinary customer service interaction into an experience that will secure someone’s loyalty for life.

5. Keep It Courteous

Certain customers seem to go out of their way to be difficult and demanding, regardless of the experience they’ve had with your business. When someone is being confrontational or downright rude, it’s tempting to respond in a similar fashion. We all know how that tends to go down: Not well. Resist the temptation to sink to the customer’s level and remain courteous and helpful at all times, even when doing so is a challenge. 

6. Go the Extra Mile

When a customer talks to a customer service representative, they expect to have their issue resolved in a timely fashion. Go beyond the expected and give your customers something they didn’t anticipate, whether it’s a free drink on the house, a gift card, a complimentary warrantee extension, an off-hours service visit, or something else. Be generous with your customers, and they will be generous with you in return.

The Bottom Line

What separates good customer service from excellent customer service is response time, attention to detail, and generosity. With a little extra effort, you can make a big impact on your customers and their loyalty to your business.

[News] Facebook Launches in-App Ad Network

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Advertising News] Facebook Launches in-App Ad Network

News Source: AdAge

After extensive testing, Facebook officially launched its in-app mobile ad network featuring robust targeting options.

The updates will allow advertisers to target Facebook users within other mobile apps using their interests, likes, and demographics information. Publishers currently in Facebook’s audience network include The Huffington Post, e-retailer Vinted, and mobile app Cut the Rope.

Key Takeaway: Facebook has been focused on mobile for awhile now, and this ad network expansion is a natural outgrowth of that strategy. For businesses, in-app ads may prove to be worth the investment—not only do they provide an opportunity to capitalize on Facebook’s rich user data, but they also have a wider network of potential touch points with consumers across various mobile properties.

[Retail News] Shoppers Willing to Sacrifice Privacy for Deals

News Source: Forbes

A new study released by eDigitalResearch this week revealed some surprising insights about mobile consumers and privacy. Of the 1300 smartphone users surveyed, 33% indicated that personalized in-store messages from a retailer would have a positive influence on their decision to make a purchase.

In-store messaging systems such as iBeacon allow stores to beam messages to shoppers in the vicinity using Bluetooth technology.

Additionally, 78% of respondents willing to receive personalized messages would feel okay with a retailer using their purchase information to create more relevant messages for them in the future.

Key Takeaway: Consumers are still protective of their privacy when it comes to web and mobile usage, but it appears that the promise of a more customized, engaging shopping experience is worth the exchange of personal data for many people. As consumers become more familiar with the benefits of allowing businesses to access their data, they may start to warm to the idea of in-store offers and other real-time marketing strategies. 

[Retail News] Square Introduces “Pickup” for Online Purchases

News Source: Engadget

Small business credit card processing service Square branched out this week with Pickup, a new service that enables customers to buy items online and pick them up in store at a pre-scheduled time.

Pickup provides small businesses with an affordable online marketplace to sell their goods: The service is available with no setup fees and a per-purchase fee of 2.75% until July 1st.

Key Takeaway: As eCommerce proves successful for retailers of all sizes, Square’s move into online ordering comes as no surprise. But will small businesses profit from this service? For anyone selling physical goods, Pickup seems like a great way to give consumers flexibility when it comes to purchasing. However, this system also removes the consumer from the usual in-person purchase flow where staff members can have more of an impact on recommendations and selections. The success of the product will hinge on its ability to not just let consumers purchase in advance, but to also discover additional items of interest as they shop online.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know!