By definition, customer service is what you offer an individual before, during and after a transaction. While this concept seems simple enough, truly exceptional customer service is getting harder to find. Why? Perhaps it’s because stellar customer service is an experience that not only gets customers from point A to point B, but enhances the overall level of customer satisfaction – an idea that can seem mind-boggling to some.
If you ask any virtual receptionist, however, she’ll tell you that offering quality customer service is no harder or more time-consuming than what you already do. The difference is that the personal connection you make with prospective customers adds value to your brand.
Opportunities to provide great customer service are easy to find, for those who look.
On the Phone
When you run a small business, answering the phone in just the right way can leave a lasting positive impression. Whether you use a virtual receptionist service or answer calls in-house, offer positivity from the start.
This doesn’t mean you have to sound happy all the time – although a smile helps in most situations. Start by simply matching the tone of your caller, and add in a can-do attitude that’s attentive, eager to please and grateful.
Build rapport – Whether you’re having a conversation in person or over the phone, know the name of the person with whom you are speaking. Use the person’s name throughout your conversation to build instant rapport.
Offer solutions – When customers seek solutions, they don’t want to hit a dead end. Instead of providing an unhelpful answer or making a customer ask for help, offer a solution that’s proactive.
Instead of: “No, she’s out of the office.”
Say: “She’s in a meeting this morning. May I help you or take a message?”
Instead of: “I don’t know.”
Say: “Good question! Let me find someone who can answer that for you.”
Instead of: “Someone else deals with that.”
Say: “Someone in the sales department will be happy to help you with this. I’ll connect you to them now.”
Anticipate needs – When a customer isn’t quite sure what he wants, picking up on verbal cues can help you fulfill unexpressed needs. Such cues can include:
- Pausing. A pause can be a sign that you caught someone off guard, in the middle of something else, or that the other person got distracted for a moment. If you suspect bad timing, ask the individual if he’d like you to get back to him a bit later.
- Sighing. Sighing is a sign of reluctance. When you hear one, offer an alternative solution.
- Talking quickly. If it seems as if someone is trying to breeze their way through a conversation, this may be a sign that they’re short on time. Either wrap up your conversation or ask if chatting later would work better.
Many people are reluctant to leave voicemails, but offering a well-crafted greeting can prompt callers to leave a message at the tone. When leaving a voice recording on your answering system, sound friendly and let callers know their call is important.
In your greeting, tell the caller the name of your business and the operating hours. Politely ask the caller to leave s name and phone number, along with any other information you may need. Then provide assurance that you’ll promptly return the call.
While emails aren’t as personal as handwritten messages or phone calls, you can still make them engaging. In your message, offer a friendly salutation (e.g., “Hi Sam,”) and a closing.
If you personally know the recipient of the message, add a personal statement. For example, mention that you had a great time at lunch or ask about the person’s family. As you craft your message, don’t forget to inject gratitude and appreciation.
How Positive Interactions Can Help a Business Grow
When done well, customer service adds perceived value to your brand and will set you apart from your competitors. In addition to helping you grow a satisfied client base, positive interactions will help you earn loyal customers who will go out of their way to do business with you well into the future.
Customer service is an intangible feature that adds perceived benefits to the products or services you offer. In addition to looking for a good deal, clients and prospects look for those “extras” they consider worth the investment of their time or money. When customers see your organization as a worthy investment, they’ll keep coming back for more – and tell others about their happy experiences.
About The Guest Author: Kevin Gillam is the Director of Marketing at Ruby Receptionists, a leading live virtual receptionist service in Portland, Oregon, that provides personalized, remote receptionist service for attorneys and small businesses throughout North America.
Customer Service Photo via Shutterstock