Ways to Achieve Customer Service Excellence

Ways to Achieve Customer Service Excellence – 3 Strategies for Professional Development

Ways to Achieve Customer Service Excellence

– 3 Strategies for Professional Development

There are many ways to achieve customer service excellence. Professional customer service representatives who truly want to excel at their jobs find ways to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. In many organizations, professional development training and information are provided. These resources help employees gain the tools needed to provide stellar customer service and interact with a diverse variety of customers.

If you find that you are not receiving the support you need, there are options that you should consider in order to ensure that you have the information, skills, and support to achieve customer service excellence. The following are three strategies for professional development that can help.

Strive for improvement. Customer service can be frustrating and, in some instances, monotonous. You may need to create self-motivation strategies and continue to seek fulfillment or satisfaction. By remaining optimistic and projecting a can-do image that makes customers enjoy dealing with you, you can influence yourself and others. Smile as an outward gesture of your “I care” philosophy. Many self-help publications and courses are available that can offer guidance in this area.

The reality in many of today’s work environments is that organizations have downsized and some are still struggling to come back from the worst economic recession in recent memory. This has impacted productivity, revenue, employee morale, customer perceptions, and overall societal values. The new business norm is what it is today for many organizations and their employees. The result is that employees and their supervisors are learning to adapt to the changing face of customers related to their needs, wants, and expectations. That means that you on an individual level must step back and analyze your job and role in the service culture so that you can better prepare to meet the challenges and opportunities that you will surely encounter.

Look for a strong mentor in your organization. Many organizations have realized that they need to provide succession planning for the future. To do that, they must create a system whereby frontline employees, junior supervisors, and managers or future leaders are guided in their personal and professional development by those with more expertise, tenure, and contacts. This is going to become even more crucial in the future because of the coming “brain drain” in which thousands of older workers will retire and exit the workplace in virtually every industry and type of organization. When they go, they will take decades of experience and knowledge and leave behind a huge gap in many organizations, especially those that have not created an effective exit strategy or prepared others to step into key roles and positions. One viable strategy that some organizations are using is to put into place a strong sponsored and supported mentoring program.

If your organization does not have a system in place to pair newer employees in the profession with those more knowledgeable and skilled, try to find someone who is a superior customer service professional and get to know him or her. As your relationship grows, become a sponge and soak up as much of his or her knowledge as possible. Additionally, do an Internet search for professional organizations that cater to your profession (e.g., customer service representatives, call-center representatives, sales professionals, or whatever your job title). Often they offer networking opportunities on a regular basis locally where you can attend meetings to hear guest speakers who share their expertise in the field. Through such events, you can likely identify other professionals who are looking to share best practices and information while growing their knowledge and skills.

Avoid complacency. Anyone can go to work and just do what he or she is told. The people who excel, especially in a service environment, are the ones who constantly strive for improvement and look for opportunities to grow professionally. They also take responsibility or ownership for service situations. Take the time to think about the systems, policies, and procedures in place in your organization. Can they be improved? How? Now take that information or awareness and make recommendations for improvements. Even though managers have a key role, the implementation and success of cultural initiatives (practices or actions taken by the organization) rest with you, the frontline employee. You are the one who interacts directly with a customer and often determines the outcome of the contact.

Some people might throw up their hands and say, “It wasn’t my fault,” “Nobody else cares; why should I,” or “I give up.” A special person looks for ways around roadblocks in order to provide quality service for customers. The fact that others are not doing their job does not excuse you from doing yours. You are being paid a salary to accomplish specific job tasks. Do them with gusto and pride. Your customers expect no less. You and your customers will reap the rewards of your efforts and initiative.

Like many other aspects of your job, customer satisfaction and retention often depend on how well you do your job. By taking personal pride in what you do and striving to achieve the best possible outcome of any task you begin, you can help ensure a sense of personal pride. At the same time, your initiative and efforts will likely be recognized and rewarded at some point.

For additional ideas and strategies on ways to achieve customer service excellence, search this website for related articles. Also, check out Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures and Customer Service Skills for Success.

Do you have personal service improvement strategies that have worked well for you that you are willing to share with others? Offer one here.

Time Management in Customer Service

Time Management in Customer Service - Tips for Service Professionals

Time Management in Customer Service

 Tips for Service Professionals

In today’s harried world, effective time management in customer service is crucial. When was the last time that you actually felt that you had time to do everything that your boss or customers expect from you? There is an ever-growing list of tasks to accomplish for customer service professionals. This is especially true in customer care centers. In addition to understanding the needs, wants and expectations of a diverse customer base, you must also deal with a variety of job-related functions.

Some customer service professionals have learned to better manage their time than others. One way to improve on your own time management in customer service is to observe coworkers who seem to be able to easily accomplish their work and efficiently interact with all types of customers. Ask them for advice or opinions about things that you might do to better harness elusive time. If you can master yours, there is an opportunity to reduce your stress and improve job performance while better satisfying your customers.

The following are some proven strategies that can assist you in your efforts to move toward better time management in customer service.

Evaluate Your Perception of Time. Depending on your personal background, influencers and cultural values and beliefs, you view time in a manner that could differ from some of your customers and others around you. Once you recognize your time preferences, you can start to work on improving how you do things. For example, you may either currently take your time and are slow and methodical in accomplishing tasks. Or, you may rush from one task to another while quickly trying to multitask and get many things. In the first instance, trying to do everything perfectly could be causing a backup in calls or customers waiting for service. In the second example, you may be frustrated and disappointing others because your performance is substandard in their view. The key is to find a balance between the two approaches. Asking your customers or other questions to explain their expectations can sometimes help you realize that you are not doing what is actually needed or wanted. Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues when interacting with others. Based on their comments or cues, you may want to adjust your service delivery accordingly in order to enhance customer satisfaction.

Examine Your Time Reality. Everyone has the same amount of time each day (86,400 seconds, 1,440 minutes, or 24 hours). Some people use their time more efficiently than others do. Depending on the type of work environment in which you find yourself, your stress may increase because of your difficulties in using time effectively. For example, if you work in production areas (e.g., telesales or customer care centers) where you are held accountable for production rates, have timed standards for productivity, or work at a hectic pace, time can seem like your enemy. Often, high levels of stress may be caused by too few people handling too many tasks. In such environments, you may often have to work extended amounts of overtime or on weekends and holidays in order to meet established goals or standards. The frequent result is that you have little time to think before you speak or act. This is why a good system for time management and effective strategies can come in handy. Even if you can squeeze out a few minutes here and there, those precious minutes can help you efficiently deal with your time reality and more effectively serve your customers or accomplish other tasks.

Determine the Relativity of Projects or Tasks. Assigning priorities is a matter of relativity. Some tasks and projects are rated higher than others. You should be guided by the question “What is the best use of my time?” Many people fill their daily schedules with frivolous or easy tasks and with tasks that they like to do. This often produces a hollow feeling of accomplishment, for they may get a lot done and enjoy doing it, but they have not added a lot of value to customer service or the organizational goals. Keep in mind when setting priorities in the workplace that your No. 1 focus should be your customers and activities that support them.

Be Realistic About Timing. Reality and deadlines have a way of dictating priorities. The starting time of a project or task also may establish priorities. Once you begin a task, there must be enough time to finish it. If this is not possible, you may have to prioritize or seek assistance. The key is to be realistic about the time it will take to complete a task. Make sure that you schedule that much time, plus a little extra, on a daily planning sheet that you create. Also, consider your peak time period for performance. This is your circadian rhythm – the internal clock that makes you more energetic either in the morning or evening. Each person typically has a period of the day in which he or she has more energy and can get more done. Capitalize on your peak period and schedule high-priority tasks during that time, if possible.

Time management is not a secret. It is learned and practiced behavior. If you want to improve, you can do so. There are many resources online, in classrooms and in books and other materials. Make time to assess, evaluate and improve. Only you can do that.

For additional ideas on time management in customer service, review other similar articles on this blog. Also, check out Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures for information about how customers from different cultures perceive time and ideas for interacting with them.

What are the strategies that you use to improve your time usage in your customer service environment? Share them with other readers below.

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