Bro, do you even customer service?!
Having been in occupations requiring immense levels of customer service, I have learned a few things. I have worked in a call center on and off for 2-something years, and in sales occupations requiring customer service for another 1 year prior. I have seen and heard good and bad ways of communicating with customers, and learned a few things:
HOW TO EXCEL AT CUSTOMER SERVICE?
1. No matter how much of an asshat the person you are speaking to is being, never lose your cool. Always be polite and courteous, because more often than not they would realise they were wrong, and it will make them feel apologetic, rather than having this mutual hate towards each other, which damages the image of a firm, and helps neither party. At the end of the day, if you don’t accept their negative, that negative remains with them.
Most of the time, you will feel better because they have nothing to call you out on. Also, it’s much harder to come to a reasonable consensus when you have an ego-driven battle of opinions.
2. There are only two options: being a leader or being a follower. You can either ask people to do something for you, or guide them through it. I choose to guide, because, face it, they are coming to you for help, and your job is to help them obtain what they are looking for. Do not confuse assertiveness with ‘cockyness’ – the latter is just annoying.
Sometimes, if you feel that the person you are speaking to knows exactly what they want, and you know it’s right, and it’s absolutely fine to just follow their train of thoughts. Do not try to overpower them, or interrupt: remember the first rule, “be polite”.
3. Be friendly, but not overly friendly. It’s fine to chit-chat about the weather for a minute, but when they start telling you the story of how their laptop got shot with a bb gun by a certain someone they refused to sleep with (true story), you know that the thing have gone a bit too far. Be an exact amount of friendly not to seem lazy or intrusive.
4. If the person you are speaking to decides to act tough and blame you for the world hunger, you don’t have to go an extra mile to help them. I think of it as of enabling their rudeness, thus encouraging them to habitually act disrespectful with others.
5. Do not make someone feel stupid on purpose. When people contact customer service, they come to you for help. I do not think it is fair to use your power position (e.g. your knowledge) to be a bully. Don’t look down on people because you are more educated on a certain subject.
6. Do not overload people with information. Unless you are answering a 1-800 Wikipedia line for visually impaired, try to keep informational spill to the minimum. The goal of a customer service agent is to provide assistance. Your customer does not need to be a technical expert – that’s why you are there to help them. When you are giving too many options, you create more anxiety, which has a good chance of resulting in a lost sale and lost time.
"Serving the customer is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want. Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems (lost packages, replacements, refunds, etc.) in the fastest manner possible. [...] The more options you offer the customer, the more manufacturing and customer service burden you create for yourself".
Henry Ford, when speaking about his best selling car Model-T, said: “The customer can have any colour he wants, as long as it’s black.” Let that sink in for a moment. The idea is not to be mean (rule #1, remember?), but to eliminate indecisiveness and make more sales, which is an ultimate goal of a business after all.