In this day and age, it is a cliché to say “the customer comes first.” While many companies have entire call centers devoted to taking care of customer issues, improving your customer’s experience is not limited to one department. In fact, in the era of social media, it is more important than ever for brands to train each and every one of their staff to service their customers.
The basic concept of customer service is to assist the people who are using or considering using your product. Customer service training usually involves empathy training and prepping representatives on what to say in specific instances. While this training is usually limited to the service team, it is a good idea to incorporate it into your front of house as well.
Front-of-house (FOH) staff are the first people your customers meet, so they need to be as carefully groomed in service as your call center is. However, they are usually hired for their sales aptitude, not their ability to soothe a customer. Instead of recycling training content from the customer service team, tailor your training content to emphasise these six tools to help sales people resolve customer problems:
An actual customer service representative is contacted once a customer is frustrated enough to call, email, or tweet. At your restaurant or store, your employees should step in as soon as they see the problem. Don’t make the customer search for help.
- Listen and Ask Questions
Most customers will feel serviced as long as they feel that they are heard. Train your FOH staff to truly listen when dealing with unhappy customers and to ask questions until they fully understand the situation.
- Be Quick to Apologise
An apology is an easy way to improve a bad situation. Coach your staff to quickly apologise to the customer. This avoids the blame game so that the conversation can move forward.
- Communicate Realistically
Your FOH staff probably doesn’t have much latitude when it comes to bending the rules for a customer. Teach them to clearly communicate exactly what they can do for the customer based on their role. That said, they should be trained to go above and beyond whenever they can in order to ease a customer’s experience.
For example, an associate should explain that while they do not have the power to give a refund on a hotel room, they will forward the request to the manager and in the meantime offer a voucher to the café.
- Emphasise Body Language
Unlike someone working a call center, your FOH staff will deal with customer problems in person. This means nonverbal communication is more important than ever. Be sure to include training on body language so your employees can use tricks such as mimicking customer posture in order to make the customer feel more comfortable.
Finally, the most important tool in customer service is patience. When a customer is angry, it is easy to get riled up as well. Be sure to train your employees not to take things personally. A little patience will go a long way to finding an acceptable resolution.
Your front of house staff will at some point be confronted with a customer and their problem. Make sure they are prepared with the right tools to handle the situation in a professional way. That way, the social media story about your brand will be positive, not a catastrophe.
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