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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

When it comes to management training or leadership training for your staff, one area is of vital importance. Customer service may seem straightforward but in actual fact the skills needed here are not ones that should be ignored.

Good customer service will keep people coming back. Bad customer service will ensure they never come back and probably spread the word around like wildfire.

Exemplary customer service will get return business more often, bring in new business constantly, and get the best result from existing customers.

Take customer service seriously and ensure those on the front line are properly trained and that good systems are in place. If you are involved in customer service here are 10 ways to do better and improve sales, and customer loyalty:

First Impressions Count

This cannot be emphasized enough. As the saying goes you only get one chance to make a first impression and that impression can last a long time with people. That’s not to say you can’t improve a bad first impression but it is a lot more costly to make up for things than to make the effort in the first place.

Proper training of staff is needed in all areas to succeed in a good first impression. This may be telephone skills, cleanliness, attitude or all of the above. Don’t let this important component of your business suffer.

Be Helpful and Friendly, but Professional

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an over-friendly shop assistant you’ll understand why this is bad for business. But then, no attention from a shop attendant is likely to lose as many sales. So finding the perfect balance between being helpful enough to get a sale and giving them enough space to make a decision is something not everyone is born with.

Effective sales and service training in this area should be one of the main priorities of any business. Those who deal with customer service need to learn how to assist a person and make a sale, and how to remain professional and personable without seeming cold and aloof.

Go the Extra Mile Where Possible

Under-promise and over-deliver is a catchphrase that often comes up in marketing terminology. This means that going the extra mile can really solidify customer loyalty and trust. How your business does this will vary from customer to customer and from service to service but make sure your staff aware of what they can and can’t do as far as service ‘extra’s go.

This may be as simple as carrying parcels to a vehicle, a return phone call to check on progress or satisfaction, or a freebie thrown in now and again. Making the experience personal tells customers you care about their business and that they are important to you.

Keeping the Right Attitude

Attitude is vital for employees and for business owners. No one wakes up everyday feeling on top of the world. Everyone has personal problems and bad days. Proper management training for attitude not only helps your business but it helps to separate work from everyday life.

Ensure that your customers are always treated the same no matter what may have happened outside of, or during, work hours. This is important for work colleagues as well. It can put everyone in a negative mood if one person is angry or upset while at work.

People love to buy but hate being ‘sold’ – success lies in taking the customer’s perspective

Good training will see your staff understand the process through the eyes of the customer. This is the very reason people dislike the ‘used car salesman’ stereotype. We love to buy, it makes us feel good, but even a slight sniff of ‘being sold’ will turn most people away. If people get the feeling that making the sale is more important than their needs they may beat a hasty retreat out the door.

Train staff to read their customers signals and needs and react accordingly.

Don’t Bring Bad Moods or Negative Emotions To Work

This builds on having the right attitude at work. All of us may be looking for that perfect job where we get paid the full amount and get to kick around all day doming whatever we want. In reality this job doesn’t exist but for workers, morale is an important aspect of any job. Customers are not the only ones who need to see a consistent positive attitude. Take care of your staff with proper supportive training and team building to keep morale high.

Happy workers who are confident in their skills will always perform better and consistently give better customer service. Leadership training can also help the management in developing a positive and productive work environment.

Try To Help but Don’t Smother

Although this has been touched on already it is worth mentioning again. This can be applied to customer service and staff training. Good management will know just how much help and support to apply to staff and when leave them to make decisions alone. Micro-managing every aspect of a business is not only tiring but it makes staff feel as though they aren’t trusted or aren’t capable.

Good leadership training can make all the difference and happy staff will convey that positivity to customers.

Appearances Do Convey Messages

As with first impressions, a consistent and pleasant appearance is essential to getting repeat business. Staff should not only look neat and clean, but the premises must be the same way. People notice many things when looking to make a purchase of goods or services. They’ll notice a gravy stain on a tie, a spider in the corner, or smudges on a window a lot more often than they would when visiting friends or in their own home.

We all have certain expectations when paying for something and if they aren’t met then a competitor will get the next sale.

Telephone and Internet Etiquette Should Be Used At All Times

Not all customer service is done face to face. In fact, much of it is done via the telephone and internet today. In many ways this is more important to get right. Proper etiquette and attention to details are very important. Good training will ensure that the tone, delivery, and attitude are correct for phone calls and that internet ‘rules’ are observed and applied correctly.

Try To Resolve Conflict or Potential Conflict Fast

The customer is always right is a saying long heralded by not only consumers, but by management training professionals. How staff handle customer conflict or potential conflict is most important. A conflict that gets out of hand can easily cost the company a whole lot more down the track and it can also give a business a bad reputation. Staff need to know that it isn’t about who is right and wrong and not to enter into that type of arguments with customers.

Train your staff to be well versed in conflict resolution and that they have a set process in place. Knowing what is okay as a peace offering also helps.

Good customer service is an area that all businesses need to work on regularly. Remembering that all staff, no matter what they do, are linked in some way to customer service will see your business go strides ahead of the competition.

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