In any business that relies on consumer interaction to make a profit, customer focus is the number one skill to hone. Yes, your product or service is also essential, but if you don’t have the consumer base, you can’t sell.
The main reason customers don’t engage in repeat business with a company is because they didn’t feel satisfied with the service they received. To prevent this from happening, anyone who acts as a representative of your business needs to know how to interact with potential clients.
Every time you or your employees engage in communication with a customer, it reflects on your company. Whether it’s a new prospect or someone whose business you want to keep, customer focus is crucial.
These tips will teach you the strategies you need to use, and train your staff in using, in order to perfect your customer service skills. When you do this well, you’ll see that the investment in your time is more than worth the profit you’ll generate.
1. Make Every Interaction a Personalized One
Think about how you feel when you call a company to get a question answered and you end up dealing with an automated system. No one likes to be treated as though they’re just another number. Your clients don’t, either.
While a phone system might be necessary to your business, it shouldn’t be the only communication you have. Once a connection is made from the client to your representative, this “automatic” process needs to switch to the human touch.
Find out who you’re talking to and use their name frequently. Ask them how their day is going. Act like you care about their needs and want to help fix their problems.
The sad reality is that people have come to expect to deal with business reps that don’t care and may even be rude. Kindness and a personalized touch often makes all the difference.
2. Practice Your Communication Skills
You might know what you’re saying, but your client could have no idea what the point you’re trying to make is. This happens frequently when you assume the other person has a base of learning that they don’t.
Consider a baseball analogy: You’re trying to explain the sport to an alien visiting the planet. You start by telling them that a team of players stands on a field in an arena and one player throws a ball to another. That second player tries to hit the ball with a bat.
This sounds simple to you, but the alien has no idea what an arena is and the only bat they learned about before visiting Earth was the flying kind. These tiny miscommunications add frustration to both sides
You have to tweak your approach so that you get a baseline of where your client is starting from. When you know whether you need to take the “alien” approach, go straight to expert-level, or work from somewhere in between, your communication is clearer and the frustration disappears.
3. Use Customer-Friendly Software
Working smarter, not harder, in your business could be as simple as the software you use. Much of the questions you probably get from your clients are repetitive. If they are able to find the answers on your website, it saves them time and stress, and limits your part of the job.
When your clients are able to schedule appointments online or order straight from your site, they’re less likely to change their minds. They’ll sign up for your email list if they feel comfortable with the way your site looks.
The right software also lets you design a personalized touch for automated emails and other processes. It’s a win/win because they get the product they need and you barely have to do any interacting.
4. Watch Your Language
You probably already know that using swear words and other foul language is a no-no in business, but watching your language goes beyond that.
It’s not about what you don’t say as much as what you do. Those with excellent customer focus skills know that you catch more flies with honey. When you use positive language naturally, you can turn a potentially difficult situation into smooth sailing.
For instance, never tell a customer what you can’t do. Phrasing a sentence in a negative context leaves the other person with a bad taste. Instead of telling them you don’t offer a certain product, tell them what you do provide that meets their needs a different way.
5. Improve Your Efficiency
Good customer focus never rushes the interactions, but efficiency is still essential. Take some time before going straight into the sales pitch to get to know the customer’s needs. However, if they seem to be going off on a tangent and telling you their life story, you have to be able to redirect them smoothly.
You probably want to help everyone, and that’s admirable! It’s also not always possible.
To increase your efficiency, know when you need to pass your client on to the right person. This might irritate them at first. But if you quickly assess the situation, you’re saving them from repeating themselves multiple times.
6. Stay Calm Under Pressure
Today’s world is full of people who are stressed to the max. You may be one of them, or you could be dealing with one of them. Either way, it’s important to stay calm under pressure.
The customer may not always be right, but they do need to feel heard. Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed to keep them satisfied.
When you feel your internal Coke bottle getting shaken up and ready to explode, try a few calming techniques:
- Take a few deep breaths and count backwards from ten.
- Remind yourself of a few blessings you have.
- Consider the other person’s view and that they may have a reason for being so rude/stressed/whiny/etc.
If all else fails, try to put them off or on hold until you can refresh your mind and come back to them in a calmer state.
7. Be Flexible
Dealing with people is never predictable. You’re going to have interactions that go smoothly, without a hitch. And you’re going to have others that have a lot of bumps in them.
Flexibility when those bumps occur is one of the keys to a positive outcome. Customers may call you wanting one thing and change their mind as soon as you’ve done the work to get them what they wanted. It happens.
Don’t take anything personal, and try to go with the flow! Sometimes, these changes end up making things even better than the original plan.
Customer focus is a solid business strategy on par with the right investments, solid product placement, and a good marketing campaign. All of these tie in together to increase your bottom line and improve your profit.
With these tips, your customer satisfaction ratings will quickly get you a return on your time and energy investment. Chances are, they’ll help you outside your profession, too!