How to effectively communicate with your customer
I once worked as a till operator at one of the biggest fast-food chains in the UK. As a Nigerian student in England, working at a till was not the most honourable thing. This was the opinion of my middle-upper class parents. That didn't matter to me. At this till, I gained practical life lessons. The topics ranged from human relations to customer service. The latter was particularly interesting.
It was a busy midnight shift. Club-goers have huge tendencies of being grumpy when they are hungry. After a night of drinking, dancing and having wild fun, there's hardly any patience left to wait for a burger. On one of such nights, a young man walked in. He was at least 6 foot, 5 inches tall, bearded with an intimidating personality.
As he approached the counter, the restaurant manager called me for a brief chat. He warned that this customer had been banned from the restaurant as he once attempted to stab a member of staff. I got the instruction to refrain from serving him but immediately knew that was a bad call. I told the manager to let me handle the situation, and I proceeded to attend to this forbidden customer. Let's call him Mr Danger. He was in no mood for smiles or small talk. He wasn't going to wait all night for his burger either. His demeanour communicated these, and I coordinated my team to act along those lines.
I served him with a broad and genuine smile on my face and ensured he left satisfied and with a curt smile.
Mr Danger is not synonymous to many customers, but he's human, like every customer. Understanding that customers are humans is the first step to successful customer service. And communication is at the heart of every human interaction.
Communicating effectively with customers improves customer experience, increases sales and secures brand loyalty. For communication to achieve these, it must be intentional and effort-driven. Here's how:
Work on your tone of voice: Sometimes, it's not about what you say but how you say it. In customer service, you'll not always have the answers. But customers will be less disappointed if you address problems in a pleasant way. At Heroshe, we address customers in a balanced and moderate tone. Even in our written communication, we ensure that we sound relaxed. This is a sure way to get through to customers, regardless of their mood.
Be conversational: Speak to your customers like they are humans because they are. In a telephone conversation, be flexible. While you may want to stick to the company script, it's best to adapt to the style of each customer. It would be wrong to respond to a displeased customer in a playful manner. Make sure you're on the same page as them.
Be positive: You can express regret if a customer makes a request that you can’t fulfill right away. But make a promise too. It would be wrong to say "the product is unavailable now". Instead, say "the product is currently unavailable. But I can place you on a priority list and make sure you're the first to receive it once it's available". See the difference?
Show empathy: It’s critical to empathize with your customer and convey that feeling to them. An unsatisfied customer will feel a lot better if you express genuine concern about them. Saying words like "If I were in your shoes, it would upset me too" goes a long way.
Never forget to say "please" and "thank you".
Incorporating these simple communication tips will help your business stay grounded. It will also aid in short and long-term customer retention.