Join LinkedIn Learning Instructors for an in-depth discussion in this video Delivering great customer service, part of Mixtape: Highlights from LinkedIn Learning Courses.
- [Jim] Customer service can make or break the relationship that someone has with your brand, but good customer service isn't necessarily good enough. - [Jeff] Good service occurs when a customer's expectations are met. The challenge with good service is it's not very memorable. Outstanding customer service is service that exceeds your customer's expectations. - [Jim] And when things go wrong. - [Myra] If you're in customer service, you've heard this phrase: "I want to speak with a manager." - [Jim] Avoiding that phrase is just one tiny part of a customer service strategy, and having one is more important than ever. - [Brad] It's easy for customers to tell others about bad experiences through reviews and social channels, but if you consistently deliver great service, they'll share their positive experiences, which is a powerful force working in your favor. - [Jim] Delivering great customer service. That's what's ahead in this LinkedIn Learning highlight, your curated collection of insights from LinkedIn Learning courses. Hi, everybody, Jim Hyde here from LinkedIn Learning. Each of us has traveled through the entire spectrum of customer service, everything from shockingly bad to incredibly good. And when we find ourselves at the extreme ends of that spectrum, we let other people know: in person, online, or both. So your goal is to provide good customer service, right? Actually, no. - [Jeff] The challenge with good service is it's not very memorable. Let me give you an example. Imagine you walk into a room and turn on the lights. You probably won't give it a second thought when the lights come on. That's like good service, it's fine. It's what happens most of the time, but it's not very memorable. Poor service occurs when the experience is worse than the customer expected, such as being rude when a customer expects you to be friendly. Unlike good service, poor service is memorable because we tend to remember things that are different than what we expect. You definitely notice, if you walked into a room, turned on the light switch, and the lights did not come on. - [Jim] That's Jeff Toister. He's an author and customer service consultant and trainer and the instructor of numerous LinkedIn Learning courses, including one called Customer Service Foundations. - [Jeff] Outstanding customer service is service that exceeds your customer's expectations, so if your customer expects you to be friendly, you might find a way to go beyond that by making your service more personal. You could try using their name, engaging in a little light conversation, or offering a genuine and sincere compliment. - [Jim] But these extra niceties aren't always enough. The reason is that every customer's perspective is different. For example, three customers could have the exact same experience, but rate that experience differently. Here's Jeff Toister again along with three scenarios that illustrate the challenge. - [Jeff] Imagine an online clothing store has a mix-up in the warehouse and accidentally ships the wrong color item to three different customers. The customer service rep handles each call the same way. - [Rep] Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Well, I'm going to help you do an exchange and get you the item you ordered. - [Jeff] Now notice how each customer reacts to the same service. - [Jim] Here's customer number one. - [Man] An exchange?! I was supposed to use this as a gift tonight. I can't use this! (stammers) - [Jim] Now customer two. - [Woman] Oh, an exchange would be great! I don't know if there was a problem with shipping or if I just ordered the wrong color, so I really appreciate your help. - [Jim] And finally, here's customer three. - [Man] Now this is awesome! This is awesome, I really like it. I am keeping this one. I also want the color I ordered though. - [Jeff] Okay, how do you think each customer felt about the service they received? The first customer felt he received poor service because an exchange wouldn't solve his real problem which was giving a gift that night. The second customer felt she received good service because she was just happy to get the issue corrected. The third customer felt he received outstanding service because he unexpectedly received an additional item he liked. - [Jim] And therein lies the challenge. - [Jeff] One of the unique challenges of customer service is your customers decide how they feel. Sometimes, they feel great when you don't do anything special. Other times, they're angry, even after you try your hardest. - [Jim] Jeff's course, again it's called Customer Service Foundations, provides a bunch of strategies that can help. One strategy is building rapport with a customer, and that includes everything from warm greetings to more personalized service to following up afterwards. Another technique Jeff points out is to go the extra mile, to go beyond what a customer expected. Here are two scenarios between a hotel front desk employee and a guest who just checked in. - [Oscar] Okay, you're all set. You know where you're going? - [Guest] Yeah, I think so. - [Jeff] Many customer service employees would hear the customer say "yeah, I think so", and then soon, the customer is all set. But if you had the extra mile mindset, you might hear hesitation in the customer's voice and identify an extra mile opportunity. - [Oscar] Okay, you're all set. You know where you're going? - [Guest] Yeah, I think so. - [Oscar] Do you? Here, giving you a map, all right? - [Guest] Thank you. - [Oscar] Yeah, okay, so here's where you are right now, and this is where you're going, right? So I'ma put... So my name's Oscar and that's my phone number, so feel free to call me if you get lost or if you need more assistance or something. I'm here to help you. - [Guest] Thank you, Oscar. - [Oscar] You bet! - [Guest] I appreciate that. - [Oscar] You bet. - [Guest] Thank you. - [Oscar] Have a good day. - [Jim] Another of Jeff Toister's extra mile tips is to tactfully call attention to the extra service you're giving someone. - [Jeff] For example, a mechanic might say, "We went ahead and washed your car for you". A retailer associate might say, "I know you said you don't have the coupon, "but I gave you the extra discount anyway". Or a valet parking attendant might say, "I put a complimentary bottle of water in the car for you". These may have all been services that would've been provided anyway, but you can make your customer feel good by pointing out that you did something special for them. We don't get a chance to go the extra mile with every customer, but when it does happen, it can be a lot of fun to use these techniques to really make someone's day. - [Jim] There's more advice in Jeff's course, Customer Service Foundations, and Jeff is the instructor behind many other customer service courses too. For now, though, let's jump to the worst-case scenario: that genuinely angry customer, the person who's seeing red and demanding to talk to someone higher up. - [Myra] Customers escalate to management because they're frustrated that things aren't going their way. - [Jim] That's Myra Golden, a customer service strategist and trainer and the instructor of a LinkedIn learning course called De-escalating Intense Situations. - [Myra] When a customer asks to talk to a supervisor, don't refuse. A refusal is viewed as adversarial and this will just make the customer more forceful in their attempt to escalate. The second thing you need to avoid is immediately transferring. If you say "hold while I transfer you", you could sound dismissive. - [Jim] So you shouldn't just refuse and you shouldn't immediately transfer. What should you do? Myra recommends a three-step method that she calls the USA. Make a statement of Understanding, that's the U. The S stands for Situation. Explain the situation and your desire to help. And the A stands for Action, committing to help even if it does mean getting the manager. Here's a scenario that illustrates this from Myra's course De-escalating Intense Situations. - [Rep] Hi there, thanks for coming in today. - [Customer] Hi, may I speak to a manager, please? - [Rep] I respect your request to speak to a manager. My supervisor is counting on me to do my job and resolve issues of our customers' experience. Will you give me a chance to help before we go any further? If I'm not able to help, I'll immediately connect you to my supervisor. How does that sound? - [Customer] You know what? This is my third attempt to get this resolved. I really just want to talk to a manager. - [Rep] Absolutely, let me go get my manager. - [Jim] So yes, some customers will still want to talk to a manager, and it's important to respect that. But first, express understanding and a desire to help. That may be all it takes to prevent escalation. All the techniques we've talked about so far, things like building rapport with a customer, going the extra mile, de-escalating intense situations, they're all small building blocks of what should be a larger customer service strategy. And that is the subject of a LinkedIn learning course called Customer Service Strategy. The course is from Brad Cleveland, a consultant specializing in customer management and service. In his course, Brad notes that a customer service strategy not only helps your customers in the short term, but also helps your company in the long term. - [Brad] It's customer service that first sees product or service glitches. It's service that knows how well you keep your promises to customers. It's customer service that sees where there are opportunities to innovate in your products or services or communication with customers. Without a good strategy, you'll still be making a sizable investment to customer service, but you'll be missing out on its potential. - [Jim] And, as Brad points out, if you don't have a good customer service strategy, you risk spending too much time putting out fires. - [Brad] Without clear and effective strategy, customers and problems making the most noise tend to get the attention, but that doesn't mean there aren't other issues that are just as important. Without the visibility that comes from a good strategy, you risk misapplying time and effort. - [Jim] Okay, before you ask to speak to my manager, let's wrap up this LinkedIn Learning highlight with a few takeaways. Number one: as Jeff Toister says, think about ways to go the extra mile. - [Jeff] Start by listing some of your customers' basic expectations. For example, your customers might expect fast, friendly, and knowledgeable service. Next, look at each expectation and think about ways that you can go beyond what's expected. - [Jim] Number two: when an unhappy customer repeatedly insists on speaking to a manager, make it happen. - [Myra] If you get pushed back, don't refuse. If they ask twice, it's best to go ahead and let them speak with a manager. Respecting our customers' needs and time is still one of the best ways to keep things from escalating. - [Jim] And number three: from Brad Cleveland. - [Brad] In the end, you want customer service to work so well that it enables you to focus on what really matters: delivering on your organization's mission and promise and engaging with your customers as you know how to. - [Jim] We've heard highlights from three LinkedIn Learning courses here: Customer Service Foundations, De-escalating Intense Situations, and Customer Service Strategy. There are a lot more courses dealing with customer service in the LinkedIn Learning library.