Revisiting the skills required for business-saving customer service

The thumbnail version:

  • A bad customer service experience should be a lesson
  • This is a lesson from a major international courier company

The full version:

Over the past three weeks I’ve been dealing with a major international express courier company trying to get answers out of them about an original painting that disappeared en route to an exhibition in New York.

Aside from everything else learned from this experience there was a lesson in how not to handle customer service. The infuriating automated phone-answering voice, the difficulty finding the right person in the right department, the misinformation, the changing and contradictory explanations, an aggressive attitude, failing to make promised return phone calls, failing to keep scheduled telephone meeting commitments, and failing to respond to emails, are just some of the customer service failings of the courier company in question.

And it all followed the key failing—losing a valuable original piece of art entrusted to them for delivery.

Don’t drive your customers crazy!

The lesson from my experience is that you should be making  a pact with yourself to ensure that no customer of your shop is ever left feeling the way I feel about this courier company.

And remember that word of mouth is an effective and inexpensive business builder so you want customers to tell other people about your great customer service. But, word of mouth can also be a devastating business destroyer.

So what does it take from you or a customer service employee (which could be everyone in your shop who interacts with customers at any level) to deliver the type of customer service that keeps customers coming back?

Well, here’s a list of qualities needed for providing great customer service (this is just a list, you need to explore these qualities in more depth):

  • Communication skills
  • Good listening skills
  • A thick skin
  • A willingness to take ownership of customer problems
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Politeness (good manners)
  • Product knowledge
  • Adaptability and creativity

What will people say about your shop’s customer service after trying to resolve a product issue?