If your job involves direct contact with customers, you have an amazing opportunity to become a superstar in the eyes of your company’s most valuable asset. Whether you interact with customers face-to-face, stare at an online Gravatar or talk on the phone, your efforts to defuse a tense situation or demonstrate gratitude have the power to impact your company’s future in ways that even the best web design can’t touch.

Turnstone Customer Service Champs Jim Roberts and Pam Prins recently shared what they’ve learned from 37 years of combined experience caring for turnstone customers. Today, they share proven insights for those just beginning the journey toward turning happy customers into bonafide brand evangelists:

5 Ways to Become a Customer Service Champion

1. Always listen and allow them to talk. Get the whole picture. Often, customers just want some reassurance that they’re valued as more than an invoice number. Pam explains, “I ask myself, if I were in their shoes, what would make them feel that I was heard and understood?”
2. Identify the customer’s needs and approach each customer on a case-by-case basis. “You can’t peanut butter spread a standard response over every problem,” noted Jim. Instead, work to understand the motivation behind the complaint. What are they really looking for? Are they truly just looking for their product? Do they want a replacement part? Or are their needs more complicated? Tailor your response appropriately.
3. Work to understand the situation and gauge the severity of what’s going on. A product that’s missing or damaged on delivery is different from a question about fabrics and finishes. In those situations, Pam says it takes careful listening and discernment to determine next steps. “Sometimes I want to go above and beyond correcting the problem. So I ask myself, ‘Can I fix this by sending a replacement? Can I send them a gift card or coupon?’ Regardless of the solution, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to address the feelings behind the problem.”
4. Tailor your response appropriately. “I’m a firm believer in apologizing,” Jim said. “An apology conveys, ‘We heard you. Your situation is not acceptable. We’re sorry.’ We know that we’re the voice of the company to this customer, so even if tensions run high, customer service reps can’t take it personally.” However, Jim cautions that merely apologizing is not always enough and can’t be expected to work as a universal Band-Aid. Just like mom always said, apologies should be given only when genuine – not to placate or fill a break in the conversation.
5. Do more than apologize – fix the problem.  Spend time asking the right questions that get to the root of the issue. Jim says that some complaints offer the opportunity to fix issues systemically. “If one customer is experiencing a problem, chances are others are, too. Customer complaints can actually help you key in on areas to improve. In fact, I often thank customers for bringing these concerns to our attention! It allows us to do more than fix a problem – it allows us to prevent it from happening again.”
By looking at things from a customer standpoint first and then from a company and distribution viewpoint next, you’re able to take the next best steps toward a solution that scores big with customers and keeps your superstar image intact.

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