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.

5 Ways to Kick Your Customer Service up a Notch

Business trends come and go, and new technologies appear every week. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of customer service. Marketing efforts will help bring new customers to the door, but great customer service will ensure that you keep them—and keep them happy.
Even if you already have effective customer service practices in place, you can always find ways to improve. Here are 5 things you can do to make a difference with your customers:

1. Be Available

Do you need to host a 24/7 customer service hotline? Probably not. But you should make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you. Display your key contact information—business hours, phone number, social media channels, email address—prominently on your website and business listings to promote communication. 

2. Point out Problems Early

Does a customer look unhappy with a dish they ordered, or uncertain about a purchase they’re making? Don’t wait for them to complain—ask if you can do something different then and there. Addressing a problem early is the best way to ensure that it gets resolved quickly. It also lets the customer know that you’re paying attention and care about their overall experience.

3. Resolve Issues Quickly

The best way to turn a negative customer interaction into a positive one is to handle issues quickly. If a manager is required, have them respond to escalated requests immediately. If someone asks to speak to the owner, make yourself available for a conversation. Fast, attentive service can change someone’s mind about ditching your business—92% of consumers agree.

4. Keep in Touch

Once you’ve resolved a problem, don’t let that be the last time a customer hears from you. Send a thank you note to follow up, or ask for their feedback on the customer service experience via email or a survey. Knowing that you’re continuing to think about them—and to value their input in your process—is a great way to solidify a patron’s brand loyalty.

5. Reward Great Service

While helpful and prompt customer service should be a top priority for any employee, some may need additional motivation to go the extra mile. Rewarding great customer service, either individually or as a team, can provide additional incentive for your staff to bring their A-game when helping clients.

The Bottom Line

Improving customer service leads to happier customers—and happier customers lead to better business. Repeat customers spend 67% more than first-time customers, and make larger purchases in general. Spending the time and effort needed to cultivate great customer service is an investment that will pay off in the long run for your business.