Forbes Senior Contributor Micah Solomon addresses a great question about customer service standards falling as a company scales up operations.
He notes: “Is such lowering of standards irreversible, the inevitable status quo as a company continues to scale? Decidedly not—if you relentlessly resharpen your focus and tenaciously stick to your guns once again in only providing exceptional customer service. The mantra that’s needed is this: If you would’ve done something for your first customer, you’ll find a way to keep doing it for your ten thousandth, without rushing, without cutting corners, and without doing anything that would make a customer feel less than fully valued by your business. A growing business is generally closer to being considered a commodity provider than it realizes. And if you want to keep your company away from that commodity dustbin, where you’ll be considered 100% replaceable, 100% interchangeable with other providers, shift your focus to providing exceptional customer service in every single customer encounter.”
A blogpost on Zendesk.com drills down into customer service training tips that can help meet Solomon’s aim of keeping customer service top-notch as scaling demands increase.
Writer Erin Hueffner notes: “Consumers want service answers fast and on the channel of their choice. A surefire way to fall short of these expectations and tank customer satisfaction? Not investing in your support team…Customer service training is coaching and teaching support staff what they need to know to boost customer satisfaction. It involves teaching skills, learning product details, and working with customer service software to provide the best experience possible across all channels.”
Two key recommendations Hueffner offers are:
1. “Training increases job satisfaction, which raises customer satisfaction. Studies show that ongoing training increases employees’ satisfaction with their jobs. That’s good news for any field, but it’s critical in customer service. Why? Because research also shows that happy employees lead to happier customers.”
2. “Reps need to be prepared to offer omnichannel support. As customer expectations change, your support agents need training to keep up with these shifts—especially when it comes to communication…Most CX teams aren’t offering channels beyond phone and email. But that’s a problem because customers expect to be able to reach customer service on any channel they use…that includes live chat, texting, and social media.”
Hueffner continues that key customer service skills needed include emotional intelligence, active listening and digital tone. She says that emotional intelligence involves the “…ability to recognize our own emotions and those of others and to use that information to guide our behaviors.”
She points out that active listening is “the skill of listening carefully to what a customer is saying, then responding in a way that makes it clear you understand and respect their point.”
Digital tone, the ability to communicate friendliness and positivity in texts, emails and social media, is a critical customer service communication skill as well, according to Hueffner.
To me, digital tone is especially critical. Hastily crafted digital communications create many problems in customer service. While tone is key, paying attention to such details as spelling and grammar also is vital. A communication with the right tone and correct structure shows thoughtfulness. Spelling and grammar errors connote sloppy, hurried, distracted communications—not the best way to show positive customer support.
Customer service representations that don’t hold up to actual performance are worse than no customer service at all. My Nextdoor post last week addresses my frustrating “Starry Snafu” experience: “As a backup to CenturyLink Internet/landline, which I’ve had nearly 5 years, I ordered Starry on a trial basis. When I put in the order, I specifically asked about keeping both services–which was my plan. I was told there could be some interference if both routers were operating at the same time. At 11:30 on the scheduled install day, both my phone and Internet went out. I went to the phone room and found the Starry installer, who informed me that their install was going through the same DSL line as CenturyLink. I would have to choose one or the other. While I was looking forward to checking out Starry, I’m staying with CenturyLink. I wasted my time. The installer wasted his.”Mark Lusky