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What is Excellent Customer Service?

Rahul Pandita
Many organizations toil hard to provide excellent customer service to their customers. In this story, we will take a look at some tips that can help an organization in achieving this goal, so that they are able to retain their customers in the long-run.
We hear people saying that an excellent customer service means keeping your customers happy, but, isn't it easier said than done. It takes a lot of planning, a dedicated customer service, good product range, affordable prices, prompt delivery system and a host of other factors to ensure that your customers stay happy and satisfied.
There are various theories and methodologies that have been laid out to enhance the efficiency of a customer service organization. These methodologies, if practiced effectively, can really turn out to be a boon for an organization.
Tips for Good Customer Service

Be Honest
Honesty is the best policy. Yes, it definitely sounds cliched, but the importance of this statement has never been realized so much as in customer service organizations. Customers get really angry when someone sends them running from pillar to post.
It is not as if agents like to lie to the customers, but long working hours, intermittent breaks, poor morale and lack of motivation make it difficult for them to give their best on every call. The agents who work in the customer service department are just like most of us with their share of bad days, financial worries, job insecurity etc.
So, instead of taking the challenge head-on, sometimes they prefer taking the easy way out by telling customers things that are not factually correct. Let us take an example to illustrate this.
Suppose, a customer orders a phone from the sales division of a company and tells the agent to send the phone to his workplace, as there is nobody home on weekdays. The agent, while processing the order forgets to change the customer's delivery address, resulting into the phone being sent to customer's home.
The customer waits for the phone to arrive and finally decides to call up the customer services to know what exactly is going on. The customer service agent picks up the call and on checking the customer's account understands the whole situation.
Now, there are two ways in which this situation can be dealt with. The first way is to be honest and upfront with the customer by telling him that one of your colleagues made a mistake while processing the order. This is the right way to go about it but, it indeed is a bit challenging.
If you are really patient and make the customer realize the element of human error in this issue while apologizing on your colleagues' behalf, there is a good chance that you will be able to convince the customer.
The second way, which definitely is not the right way, is to lie to the customer by giving one excuse or the other, like, "The delivery van got a flat tire on way to your home" or "There has been a technical issue and I can't see any details of your order". These excuses can easily put the customer off and may cause him to cancel the whole order altogether.
Therefore, it is important that you, in all situations, try to be honest with the customer. Lying or giving incomplete information would result in dissatisfaction. 

Be Knowledgeable
If you do not know your product thoroughly, there is a high possibility that you won't be able to convince your customers to put their money in your company.
There is a story that I would like to share with you.

A person was recruited by a travel and tourism company that used to sell European holiday packages to American tourists. Two days after he joined the company, the manager called him and gave him the names of a dozen books that he was supposed to read in the next two days.
Perplexed, he asked his manager the motive behind this tedious exercise. The manager asked him, "Have you ever been to Spain?" The guy said "No, but would love to!" Grinning the manager said to him, "My friend, if you have never been to Spain, how do you expect to sell the idea of holidaying in Spain to your customers.
You may get lucky with one or two customers, but sooner or later, the customers would make out that they are talking to someone who is not too sure about the package.
Being knowledgeable means that you are in charge of the situation and customers do respect that. It makes them feel that the person whom they are talking to has done his homework and is a pro in his line of work.

Respect your Employees
This one goes out to the people who are at the helm of affairs.
If you respect your employees and give them their due recognition, chances are that it will reflect in the way they talk to their customers. Numerous surveys have found out that the organizations which are rated best for their customer services, have a highly motivated workforce.
A workforce which cares for the organization, a workforce which wants to make sure that every customer who calls them up is provided a swift resolution, and a motivated staff can be achieved if the employers take care of the issue of its employees.
Therefore, it is important that an organization puts in a bit of effort to look after the needs - both stated and unstated - of its employees.

Reward your Customers
The secret to a great customer service doesn't lie in offering discounts to your customers when they ask for it, but instead giving it to them when they are not even thinking about it.
It helps to create long-term customers, who may recommend other people to become your customers. There are other ways in which you can reward your customers like loyalty bonuses, free gifts, exclusive memberships etc. You might have heard about how Jet Blue distributed a dozen free tickets - mid-flight - by playing trivia games with passengers.
Encourage Positive Criticism
If you are working in a customer service department, you would have come across situations that really test your patience. The key to deal with these situations is to ask the customer to be a bit more specific about the issue, that is, dividing the whole problem into parts, so that you can understand the problem in a better way.
Allowing your emotions to get the better of you can result in a bad customer experience, not to mention the effect it can have your career.

These were some tips on providing good customer service. Having excellent customer service skills doesn't really mean that you are someone of extraordinary capabilities.
Rather, an average person who puts in a lot of hard work and dedication can really help an organization have more satisfied customers. I hope this article would have helped you in getting an insight into the essentials of a good customer service.