Selling your product is only one part of the journey. For many businesses, especially those that rely on recurring revenue models, customer retention is a sink or swim matter. In order to keep your subscribers on board, or have people continue to renew your service—whatever you do—impeccable customer service skills matter.
Building a well-oiled customer service machine isn’t easy. (Especially with difficult customers!) And even if you’re good at it, it’s something you can always become better at. These tips will help you make sure you’re constantly improving your team’s customer service skills, no matter your business’s scale. In fact, these practices will scale with you.
#1. Schedule continuous product trainings
Be certain that training on your product isn’t a one-time deal during onboarding. Especially now, as development is so dynamic, and products evolve and change so quickly. Make sure that, as a leader, you’re implementing training for your customer service representatives that’s just as dynamic.
On top of training for new feature releases or new product debuts, consider holding a standing meeting for customer service training. Whether it’s a weekly, monthly, or another cadence, it’s up to you—but telegraphing your commitment to constant education is important for your team. Even if you have nothing new coming out, continue to hone your team’s expertise by re-familiarizing them with your core product offerings and going deeper.
#2. Unify your voice
Mixed messaging is a common misstep for customer service teams. You don’t want your customers calling and getting one response, attitude, or approach from one representative, and then experiencing something different from company representative.
This isn’t to say you should all read from a script—far from it, in fact. Customers will know when they’re being treated robotically, whether it’s over the phone or in person at a store. But what you need to ensure is that everyone who’s interacting with a customer is representing what your organization stands for.
Don’t know that that is? Build your company’s values, or take a closer look at them, and figure it out. Then, create a list of pillars for everyone interacting with customers to follow. But before your sales team understands what the organization represents, make sure you do.
#3. Change the way they talk—and listen
There are two very important parts of a conversation: talking and listening. Obvious, sure—but there’s a world between just doing them and doing them like a customer service pro.
On the quest to improve, make sure your team is using language that encourages a positive, helpful dialogue. That includes eliminating negative words, but also framing conversations in a way that might enable a frustrated customer to feel more empathy. You can’t only change what your team says, though. You have to make sure they’re professional listeners, too. (This is even important if you use a web tool for customer service, too.)
The best leaders understand how to hear what the other party is saying in a conversation and, before they take any steps to solve an issue, they rephrase the issue to make sure they understand it correctly. Flustered, frazzled customers might often not communicate to you clearly—so you want to make sure your team identifies their exact needs before moving forward on any triage.
#4. Encourage feedback
Do you offer a way for customers to provide feedback at the end of an interaction? Or do you measure your NPS score? If not, you could be losing valuable insight into easy ways to improve your team’s customer service skills. And you could also be missing big blind spots.
There are lots of ways to ask for feedback. You can implement phone surveys after calls, add feedback links at the end of real-time customer service chats, or send follow-up emails with a link to a feedback form when you check in with clients. In brick-and-mortar stores, don’t be afraid to leave a card and pen available—if someone wants to use it, they will!
On feedback forms, keep your survey short, and avoid open forms if possible. That way, the feedback will seem less intimidating and lower-lift for your customers. But you can also quantify the data, and track your team’s improvement over time.
#5. Acknowledge excellence
Great service deserves attention. Encourage your team to rise to the occasion by recognizing great work. If your company can afford it, and you feel it fits with your culture and values, consider implementing incentives, rewards, or different types of acknowledgements throughout the month, quarter, and year.
As a team, it’s wonderful to stand for something and work hard. But it’s always fun to feel great about yourself in the process.
No matter your product, your team’s customer service skills are pivotal to your company’s success. Keeping your most valuable players—your customers—happy is essential to growing and scaling your business.