How can you do it? Here are 23 ways to make customers and callers smile and like dealing with you, whether you’re a call center, a restaurant, a hardware store, a travel agent, or a cat. Okay, maybe not so much if you’re a cat.
But if you’re a dog, these totally work.
- Remember their preferences. Hard to believe that some bank machines still ask what language you prefer, even though you’ve used the same bank card and chosen “Farsi” every week since 1987. Don’t be that bank machine. Make note of your regular customers’ favorite table or wine or service option. Then, when they call to make a reservation again, say, “You said you loved Table 7 the last time you were here. Want us to see if we can get you there again?”
- Smile, even if you’re on the phone. Smiles are always seen and heard.
- Hum while you work. No air drum solos or whistling, but quietly humming or even softly singing while you work shows some personality and can be soothing, as long as the call is not too urgent and the customer does not sound agitated.
- Explain why. Don’t just tell someone they have to buy the special blue recycling bags instead of the clear bags they already have. Explain the blue bag is biodegradable and reduces waste. Suddenly it’s not a dumb rule any more; it’s a way to help the cause.
- Let them know what’s happening. Waiting can be brutal, so explain why things may take awhile. Knowing is always better than not knowing.
- Keep them informed. If you’ve had to leave them, call or check back from time to time with someone on hold, even if it’s to tell them there’s nothing new to report yet and you’re still working on it. At least they won’t be wondering whether you forgot about them and went to lunch. Or Peru.
- Ask them to talk while you’re waiting. Hey, people hate to wait, but most of us love to talk about ourselves, and hardly anyone ever asks. So if the call is not too urgent or the customer is not too agitated, explain that things will be just another few minutes, and while you’re waiting, ask about their hometown or their experience with your company.
- Avoid complaining about your job. Nuff said.
- Avoid complaining about another customer. You’d think this would be nuff said too, but it’s amazing how often agents vent to a caller about another caller they just had to deal with. Just not cool.
- Avoid complaining. Period. This helps you and the customer feel better.
- Tell them about your gall bladder operation. Actually, no, don’t do that. I just wanted to make sure you were actually reading these.
- Compliment the customer about something. Sincerely. You want to be very careful about this if you’re a guy talking to a female customer; you don’t want to creep them out. But pretty much anything else works. A sincere compliment can make almost anyone feel better.
- Show some empathy. If they’re frustrated, listen well and acknowledge the difficulties they’ve been having. Don’t rush them through to finding a solution.
- Say you’re sorry. Even if it’s not your fault. At least say, “I’m really sorry to hear all the trouble you’ve been having.” That’s just being nice.
- Be fast. But don’t rush them. See #13 above.
- Say something nice about your competitors. If the customer says they usually deal with Crazy Eddie’s, just say something general like, “Oh yeah. They do good work.”
- If things are just not going well and you’ve hit an impasse, be prepared to pass on the call to another agent or a specialist or supervisor. Sometimes the change in chemistry is all it takes to help move past the impasse. And always remember that your worst calls may prove to be your best.
- If there’s a delay, ask how they’re doing, and listen to what they tell you. Don’t talk about why things are slow and how busy you are and how this has been going on all day and like your computer is older than your grandmother. Show interest in the customer. “I’m really sorry, but we’re just going to be a couple of more minutes. This must be frustrating for you. How are you doing, Ms. Kerplosko? Are we taking too long?
- If there’s a long delay, offer to call them back. And make sure you do it.
- If there’s a really long delay, ask about their gall bladder operation. No, actually it’s probably best not to do that. See #11 above. Unless of course you’re Gall Bladders R Us. In that case, go for it.
- React to their mood. Sometimes customers love to chat, and sometimes they just want stuff done now. Listen carefully to the level of interaction the client seems to want, and how they respond to your comments and questions. Engage them accordingly. That’s a key ingredient to excellent customer service.
- Set your chair on fire. Well, in your imagination. Keep things moving at top speed by giving yourself a reason to get things done for the customer as quickly as possible. Putting yourself in the hot seat can keep you motivated and your customer impressed.
- Follow up. It doesn’t end when it ends. Find unexpected ways to brighten their day after the call. They’ll love you for the extra attention!
There you have it: the Happy Customer Cheat Sheet. Have any of these worked for you? Have any favorites tips of your own you’d like to share? Share ‘em below. Make us all smile!