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As Customer Service Week continues, I want to offer some tips on things to avoid as a service employee. Every moment of every interaction can make or break a relationship with a customer so you have to pay attention at all times.  I was in a store last week and was blown away when the salesperson said to me, “I have to check with my manager to see if I can sell that, since it’s our last one.” I thought, why are they in business if not to sell their products?

customer service is not complicated but it does require some effort

customer service is not complicated but it does require some effort

Service is all about perception, most of it from the customers, and if our point of view is from behind the sales counter we need to remember to check in with them. Knowing your customers understand you – and your tone – is just as important as offering the features and benefits of a product. Oh, and there are some statements it’s just best not to utter 🙂

Try this top ten list for starters, and see if your team can come up with others – some might be specific to your industry or company.

  1. Use questions that have open answers, to get more information that can help you know your customer. “Would you like to see the desserts?” will likely get a “no thanks” response; a recommendation will at least start a conversation and might make a sale.
  2. Confirm information with customers; it’s OK to repeat orders or requests back to them. This makes sure you are all on the same page, and it shows you care.
  3. Instead of saying “No problem” offer a positive response such as “you’re welcome” or “It’s my pleasure”. Hopefully you do enjoy your job, so this won’t be hard 🙂
  4. “I’ve never tried (the product)” , “I’m not from here”… shows a lack of effort, which equals bad service. Even if you don’t know, have some information to offer your customer that helps them out.
  5. “It’s our policy not to allow that” is a sure way to upset customers. If something is not possible, work to find an alternative to offer the customer.
  6. Please don’t say “That’s not my department” or “I can’t help you”.  There is always something you can do to help, even if it’s just to assist in getting an answer to a question. Show a positive attitude.
  7. Try to avoid “I have to get my manager/supervisor”. Team members should be empowered to deal with interactions with customers, and if they really do need management to assist then they can simply bring them in. Customers want to feel they are looked after, not passed on.
  8. “We’re short-staffed” or “We’re too busy” are phrases that absolutely do not impress customers. Why should they care what your excuse is that you can’t help them? Instead, put your positive attitude up front and do your best. They will notice you’re trying hard. If you can get help, don’t be afraid to ask for it (this is when many managers will pitch in on the floor).
  9. Match your language to your environment. If you work in a 4 or 5 star hotel or restaurant, it’s not appropriate to say, “hi guys, how’s it going?”
  10. When in doubt, Smile. You might have noticed I’ve included this before. It’s a key element to good service and it will convince you as well as your customers that you’re enjoying your work. Honest.