As a small business owner, you undoubtedly wear a lot of hats: business development, accounting, marketing, HR, payroll... the list goes on. And that list likely includes customer service. But while not everybody is born with great customer service skills, they can be taught. Here are four core tenets that can help not only you build better customer service skills, but also your company. (Eventually you want to hire someone to handle the help desk for you, right?!?!)
Let Them Speak—And Listen to What They Have to Say
When customer reaches out to your support desk, they obviously have something to say. Not only do they have an issue that needs to be solved, but they're likely a little (or perhaps a lot) unhappy—and they're going to make the latter known. While the natural reaction might be to counter-argue one or a variety of their points, it's to your advantage to calmly let the customer speak their mind. And it's your job to truly listen to them so that you can extract the specific problem because there's a good chance that their verbal displeasure is overwhelming their ability to clearly communicate the issue.
So let them have their say while you politely listen and ask questions and you'll get to the root of the problem faster.
Say You're Sorry
It may sound silly, but sometimes, all a customer wants to hear is that you—the person they are actually talking, not just "the company"—is sorry. They feel wronged, so in addition to getting the issue corrected, they seek an apology. Thankfully, an apology is an easy win, so long as you can get over the personal-ness of it all unlike our friend Angela here...
Customer Service is Sales
Consider the chronological arc of a customer. When they're calling in to the support desk, they are already a customer. Your marketing efforts worked hard to earn their business. But the sales process doesn't end when the customer makes a purchase. In fact, the customer support desk is a key function of the lifetime value of a customer. Solve their problem in a way that leaves them satisfied and delighted and you've increased their lifetime value. Drop the ball and leave them unsatisfied and undelighted and you'll watch money walk out the door. Remember that with each customer service case, you have a chance to save a customer.
This one is certainly "time permitting," but if you solved a customer's issue, check in with them a few days or weeks later. A simple call or email can go a long way in showing the customer that you actually do care about them. Worst case, they don't respond to your email or quickly thank you for the call. Best case, they keep doing business with you and tell others about their experience.
Of course this isn't all there is to improving your customer service skills—but it's a start. If you've got a great customer service tip, share it with the Kashoo community on Twitter.