“Do what you do so well, that they will want to see it again and bring their friends” Walt Disney (Film producer and entrepreneur) Topic Five: Dealing with Customers and Clients Customer service is the process of being of help or assistance to customers. This topic would mainly cover how organizations must cater for their customers’ needs by making them feel comfortable and respected and by anticipating and meeting their needs for information and action efficiently and courteously.
Objectives: By the end of this topic students will be able to: – – – Develop skills in customer revive, particularly communication skills Recognize potential communication barriers in customer relations and how to overcome them Apply various strategies in handling customer complaints Commentary Customer service is often misconstrued by many as a skill that needs to be practiced only by employees who work at the front desk – such as receptionist, phone operators or sales representatives.
But you must understand that the sole existence of an organization is serving its customers, and your role as an employee of the organization in providing that service (regardless of our department, designation or responsibility) is to focus on the needs and expectations of the customer. Customer Service Dwyer defines that a customer is anyone who seeks or purchases goods and services from another.
Good customer service meets a customer’s needs and fulfills the customer’s expectations. Excellent customer service exceeds the customer’s expectations. To be able to identify what the customer expects you need to ‘go the extra mile’ by paraphrasing and ensuring that you understand exactly what the customer ARQ urges. USE APPROPRIATE VERBAL AND NON-VERBAL BEHAVIOR Your body language, one of voice, the surrounding environment and other non-verbal behaviors must complement with what is communicated verbally.
When dealing with customers, assertive behavior must be adopted where you demonstrate confidence and professionalism due to which you would be respected in return. AIM TO SOLVE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEMS Customers expect a prompt, accurate service especially when they approach with a problem that needs to be addressed. Remove any potential barriers in customer relations. Customers appreciate when their needs are fulfilled better and faster than they were remised. The rule of thumb here is to under-promise and over-deliver.
Communication Barriers in Customer Relations When you educate yourself of the barriers that may arise when dealing with customers, it enables you to identify areas that need to be given importance. Look at the table below and you will have an idea of such barriers and how you can overcome them. Table 4. 1 – Communication barriers and their solutions in customer relations Barriers Ignorant staff and unaware clients Insensitivity to cultural differences Solutions Keeping staff and clients effectively informed
Recognize potential barriers that may arise when communicating with customers from different cultural background Inappropriate levels of formality Distinguish when one needs to be formal and informal and and informality act accordingly Lack of respect and sincerity Establish a rapport by being courteous and respectful Inability to attend customers’ Provide service when the customer needs it and attend to problems promptly problem immediately – customers always come first Gossips Gossips must be avoided altogether – it is considered as unethical Insufficient staff Appoint enough staff to handle customer acquirement Unprofessional staff Provide training and guidelines page | 51 Please read the required Reading Fourteen to learn more about this topic Now go to page 55 and see if you can complete Activity 12 Dealing with Difficult Situations No matter how much an organization strives to remove barriers in customer relations, it is inescapable. Communication barriers occur and frustrated customers complain.
Sometimes the these complaints go beyond control, resulting in bad image of the company and loss of customers. For bad customers that reason, to become an effective customer service provider, you must be able to identify difficult active customers and treat them accordingly. TYPES OF COMPLAINING CUSTOMERS A couple of professors, Allen F. Haycocks and Karl W. Keeper, along with their research assistant Haycocks from the University of Florida classify the complaining customer types to be: 1 . The Meek Customer who GE generally does not complain and the customer service provider must make an effort to obtain any feedback from them (either comment of compliment) any 2.
The Aggressive Customer is the opposite of Meek Customer as they tend to frequently complain (often noisy and at length) Acknowledge the problem and Tate how you would solve the problem. 3. The High-Roller Customer expects excellent service and wouldn’t hesitate to pay for it. They may however make justified complains. The most effective response here is listen and paraphrase. 4. The Rip-Off Customer is an extremely difficult type of customer to please as the objective their in complaining is to win something the are not entitled to receive. When dealing with this they customer you need to remain consistent with accurate information to backup your response. 5. The Chronic Complainer Customer could never be satisfied as their aim is to whine. You heir need to be extremely patient with the types of customer.
As impossible as they can be it is these still your customer and should still be taken good care of. Please read the required Reading Fifteen to learn more about this topic topic Page | 52 BUSSES – Business Communication Strategies in handling customer complaints Customer complaints may either be justified or unjustified. Regardless of the type, each of these unjustified. Complaints should be handled effectively. Justified complaints are rational and should be acknowledged. When a customer comes to oh with s justified complaints such as inexperienced and insufficient staff at the help desk or extremely long queues, it should be resolved without delay.
Dwyer discusses in her book two effective methods in book, dealing with customer complaints that are justified; ants THE PAIR APPROVAL STRATEGY Placate – listen, maintained respond with concern Attend – acknowledge the complaint and be actively involved Investigate – the situation by asking and researching and obtain the details researching, Resolve – decide on the action and inform the customer did THE EAVE-STEP METHOD OF RESOLVING CONFLICT STEP 1. Listen: be pen-minded; remember this is not a personal complaint against you minded; 2. Respond: Show concern and empathy and apologize for any inconvenience. Remember the : customer may be embarrassed about complaining – put yourself in their position r 3. Decide on action: what factors will influence you here – the justice of the complaint, : company policy? When uncertain seek advice from your supervisor. 4. Take action: Act promptly. : 5. Follow up: Confirm that the problem has been solved and that the customer is happy. : (Dwyer, 2006, p. 35) You may find yourself in a situation where customers approach with unjustified implants which is impossible to solve as it is irrational. However, such complaints also require your undivided attention. Allowing the customer to vent while you actively listen and negotiate courteously would make customers feel they were given special attention and that you have understood them. The strategy to be used here is to acknowledge the complaint, ask the customers to explain the situation and invite them to suggest a solution for the problem. In doing so the customer usually would soon realize that the complain is not logical and understand how respectfully you have dealt with the have situation.
Now go to page 55 and see if you can complete Activity 13 Page | 53 Communicating on the telephone Telephone has been one of the most frequently used forms of communication in dealing with customers. Therefore effective use of telephone is an essential skill to be learned to become a good telephone communicator. According to Dwyer good voice skills are a crucial factor that contributes to effective telephone communication. There are three areas that need to be focused: You are expected to answer the telephone courteously by greeting and introducing yourself and the organization you represent. Good telephone etiquette also include answering the call before the third ring.
It would be of great use to you if you practice the listening skills learned earlier in this module. Answering the customer inquiries over the telephone requires the customer service provider to be patient and focused. Calls come in either as an inquiry or a complaint. Customer’s inquiries must be greeted, listened to, provided feedback and ended with a provided courteous close. Customer complaints over the phone should be acknowledged and attempted to solve if the complaint is justified. Effective questioning encourages customer to explain the complaint. You must then paraphrase to reflect your understanding of the complaint after which the complaint should be dealt with.
Please read the required Reading Sixteen to learn more about this topic Now go to page 56 and see if you can complete Activity 14 Page | 54 Activities Activity 12: Practice Exercise on Barriers to Customer Service Read the following scenarios and answer the questions that follow: Scenario Communication Barrier A customer who lives a long distance from the store brings back a skirt bought on sale to obtain a refund and buy a shirt instead. The sales assistant informs he customer that no refund is allowed on sale items. An elderly customer complains to the credit union branch manager that the teller staff treats her as if she is deaf and stupid.
The IT helpless assistant uses the latest IT jargon and technical language that the caller does not understand. The caller hangs up feeling confused and without having the problem resolved. Two young sales staff has just finished a very loud conversation about how they think religious fanatics are the cause of all the world’s problems, when one of them turns around to find a Monk waiting to be served. The manager explains to the customer making the complaint that he will do whatever he can to help. However, his arms are folded firmly across his chest; he is looking out the window and swings on his chair. 1. For each of the scenarios above, identify the communication barrier and describe it in writing in column two. 2.
Consider the general customer service responsibilities of the employees in your own (or any) workplace. Make a list of the responsibilities that are common to all staff who serve customers, whether personally, over the telephone, or through email. 3. Identify an organization hat you feel is successful and list down five factors you think contributes to this image of success. Activity 13: Case Study on Customer Service Read the following case and answer the questions below Case Study – Customer Service at Negotiations* Said is a college student who always carries his laptop to class. On his way to college one day the strap of his laptop bag breaks making it difficult for him to carry.
Fortunately for him Negotiations was quite nearby so he started walking towards the store. Said enters Negotiations thinking he would buy a laptop bag very quickly and still make it to his class on time. But he soon realized that he couldn’t find a laptop bag without the sales assistant’s help. So he goes up to the counter and asks the salesperson where he could find one. The salesperson, who is talking on the telephone Page | 55 BUSSES – Business Communication shrugs and points towards the other direction. Said moves in that direction and looks for about five minutes (which seems much longer) while the salesperson continues to talk on the phone.
Finally, Said leaves the store without purchasing anything, frustrated, late and on top of all that he was forced to carry the heavy laptop by his hand all the way to college. He is very irritated at having been kept waiting by a large store that prides itself on customer service. Said then decides to return to the store after class and make a complaint to the store manager. 1. What is the type of complaint raised by Said? 2. As the department supervisor, you decide to use PAIR approval strategy for handling this complaint. Develop a four-point plan following the PAIR approval strategy. 3. Highlight the actions you will take immediately to satisfy Acid’s needs. 4.
Discuss how staff should respond to customers in the future. *Negotiations is a fictional organization Activity 14: Practice Exercise on Telephone Skills 1 . Why is it important to give a positive impression when you answer the telephone? 2. How would you deal with a telephone caller who has asked for information you do not have? 3. From the knowledge you have gained from this unit on telephone skills create a set of instructions entitled ‘Receiving a Customer Enquiry’. The set of instructions should be appropriate to your workplace. If you are not working, assume that your instructions will be used at the reception desk of small exclusive hotel.