Many jobs require employees to work with customers or clients. Your students need to start developing their communication skills so they can successfully interact with customers when required to do so. The quality of customer service is an important factor clients consider when making decisions about where to shop or to do business. When an employee works with a customer, they are the face of the company they work for. When people think of a company, they often think about their experience working with that company’s employee.
Helping customers is not always easy. It requires patience and a calm and cheerful attitude. This can be difficult if the customer is upset about something. Regardless of the situation, your students should work on developing their people skills. In this post, we go through the following five step process for dealing with customers:
1. Recognize when a customer needs help
2. Listen to the customer’s question or request
3. Answering questions
4. Handling customer complaints
5. The customer is always right
Recognize When a Customer Needs Help
If customers need help finding something, they might not wait around very long for someone to help them. It is important to pay attention to customers and recognize when someone needs help. It never hurts to ask customers if you can help them with something. Some signs a customer needs help are:
- Wandering around the store without purpose or direction
- Confused look on the customer’s face
- Looking at a piece of paper and comparing it to a product
- Comparing two products
Listen to the Customer’s Question or Request
Once it becomes clear that a customer needs help, ask the customer if there is any way you can help. Listen carefully to the response. Sometimes a customer will need help and sometimes they will not need assistance. If the customer asks questions or explains a problem they are having, listen carefully. Then think about how to answer the question or help the customer with the problem. Making the customer feel important and valued is what this step is all about.
Customers can have a wide variety of questions. There’s no way to know what types of questions customers might have. That’s why it’s important to know as much about the products and services the company sells as possible. Occasionally, a customer may ask a question to which you don’t know the answer. Be honest with the customer and say that you don’t know but work with them and find someone who does know the answer. After you have answered the customer’s questions, ask the customer if you’ve answered all of the questions or if more help is needed.
Handling Customer Complaints
Unfortunately, not every customer is a happy customer. Sometimes there will be customers who have a complaint or are not satisfied with a product or service. Handling customer complaints is one of the most difficult parts about customer service. In his book, If it Wasn’t for the Customers I’d Really Like This Job, Robert Bacal identifies four steps for dealing with customer complaints:
1. Control – Take control of the situation and let the customer know that you are ready to handle the problem
2. Acknowledge – Acknowledge, or explain that you completely understand the customer’s concerns
3. Refocus – Try to refocus away from the customer’s emotions and focus instead on how you’re going to fix the problem
4. Solve – Solve the problem and make sure that the solution is acceptable to the customer
The Customer is Always Right
This should be the default posture of staff whenever they are dealing with a customer. It can be difficult to accept this sometimes, but this mindset is key to keeping the customer satisfied, which is the goal of any business. Sometimes customers will be rude or have problems that are their own fault.
Try your best to keep a positive attitude with these customers. Most of the time they just want someone to listen to their problem, apologize, and find a solution to their problem. By staying calm and positive, you prevent the customer from becoming even more upset and you will be able to think clearly to come up with a good solution.
We hope you enjoyed this series on developing social skills in the workplace. Hopefully you’ve taken some useful things from our posts that can help your students get prepared for the workplace. Our new Functional Social and Emotional Learning Programs teach skills for Workplace Readiness, Personal Success and Personal Responsibility. If you would like to learn more about this new program, please click here for a free trial.