In this uncertain economy, having a job that pays the bills every month is a blessing. If you’ve heard rumors that your company may be thinking of making some cuts, here are a few tips on how good customer service can make for good job security.
Leave It At The Door
Okay, so you overslept this morning and when you realized it, you jetted out of bed so fast you collided with the dresser and stubbed your toe. Your husband forgot to pack the kids lunch and they missed the bus while you threw together PB&J. After driving them clear across town, you’re now clocking in forty-five minutes after your shift. There’s no more coffee in the pot and the phone at your desk is ringing off the hook. What to do? Breathe. Vent to a co-worker at the water cooler. Check your email first before responding to calls. When you’re feeling yourself again, leave your hassles at the door and turn your frustration into focus to serve your customers. Everybody has a life outside of work but if you start to let those negative feelings creep into your interactions with your customers, they’ll notice and be turned off. Remember what they say about first impressions? Good customer service requires you to make it a good one each and every time.
Service With A Smile
Even if you’re only on the phone, a customer can read a lot into your tone of voice. A simple trick to keep your tone professional and light is to smile when answering the phone. Try this the next time a call comes in: Take a deep breath, smile, answer and say: “Good morning/afternoon, this is (your name), how may I help you?” This will get you into a more relaxed, helpful attitude and will put your customers at ease, even if they called to complain.
Lend An Ear
If you haven’t even finished getting, “Good morning” out of your mouth before the person on the line cuts you off with a complaint, you may be in for a rough call. I’ve had them and frustrating as they are, taming the savage beast isn’t difficult if you’re willing to do two things; listen and don’t take it personally. Remember, even though this person is annoyed to the point of being rude, underneath their frustration is a real desire to be heard and have their problem solved. Let your customer rant for a minute or two without interjecting other than to say, “okay”, “right”, “that’s understandable” where appropriate. People want to know they’re being heard. When your customer has finished his tirade, ask for clarification by repeating back what you’ve heard, “Okay Mr. Smith. So you’re saying that shipping and receiving promised you’d get this package two days ago and it hasn’t yet arrived?” “Yes,” Mr. Smith grunts. Tell Mr. Smith that you understand how he feels and that would irritate you too. This sends the message to Mr. Smith that you are “on his side”. Then follow up immediately with a promise of a solution. “Let me track that package for you right now. Would you like to hold while I investigate where it’s got too or would you like me to call you back?” People feel empowered by having a choice. Since Mr. Smith felt powerless when he called you, this may be all it takes to diffuse him and turn the call around into something positive. Your boss may even get a complimentary call or email from Mr. Smith, which will reinforce your value in the company and increase job security. Note: If a customer swears at you, makes lewd comments or threatens you, tell him or her that you can no longer continue the conversation the way it’s going, hang up and tell your supervisor immediately. There’s a difference between irritated and disrespectful and nobody deserves that.
These tips also apply to a front desk, sales or clerical job.
Wait a minute. I don’t work in customer service.
Sure you do! Even if your job isn’t to answer phones or greet guests at a front desk, you are still providing customer service every day and to the most important person you need to impress: your boss! Not to mention your coworkers who depend on you to get the job done. Be positive. Smile. Ask what else you can do to be of help. Listen. Follow through on your promises. Applying these simple techniques will increase your customer service skills and your value as an employee, which will provide lasting job security.