Saturday, September 22, 2007

Effective communication in customer service.

Effective communication in customer service:

“Customer service is always the customer's experience of the manner in which a provider delivers a product” states Russell Giles, a Certified Trainer and member of
ASTD. “So service is never a what; it is always a how”. Effective communication is the most critical function in this customer service equation. Clearly communicating expectations, next steps and informing the client of possible issues AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE can directly improve the value of your service.

Fresh Asparagus:
In any industry, but inversely related to the quantifiable value of your product or service, setting expectations will positively effect your customer rapport. Everyone ideally hopes to fall in favor with their customer and informing your customer of what to expect, when to expect it and anything you will need reassures the customer that this is not your first experience. I will reference the service industry, specifically waiting tables, in many of my explanations.
Fresh Asparagus is no different at Ruth’s Chris Steak House than what you can prepare at home. The ambiance comes from the expectation that this is not your waiter’s first time serving food and that your food will come made to order. Start all conversations and meetings with a clear agenda, setting a powerful, positive expectation.

So what is next?
Any effective conversation ends with both parties having a clear understanding of what is next. If you leave a meeting or conversation with any questions, the meeting can be considered a waste-of-time. A waiter will often ask how you would like your steak cooked or will inform you when your appetizer will be ready. At the finest establishments, customer service is strengthened when the customer is left assured that their order was clearly taken and they know when to expect their product or service delivered.

Worst-case-scenario; we’re all out of steak!
Issues ALWAYS arise, but how do you handle serious problems? The first step is to inform your customer of the issue. “I’m sorry; we’re out of the Petite Filet this evening. Would you care for a full Filet in its place?” After the final transaction, it is important to review any issues that arose and find a way to identify and solve this problem in advance. Allowing your customer to know what the problem is, what steps you are taking to solve the problem, and what the customer can expect next alleviates 75% of the problem immediately.

Provide your clients and customers with the finest in customer service. Effective communication, including setting expectations, next steps, and properly handling any issues which may arise will increase customer satisfaction and provide your organization with return visitors!

- Eric “Marketing Mogul” Brandt