Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#2

Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#2

Be Consistent

Customers who feel that they have an active role in and control of a service-provider interaction often feel more important and valued. Improved interpersonal communication can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention and reduced stress for you and your co-workers.

Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#2: Be Consistent Take advantage of the following strategy to build stronger relationships with your internal and external customers by being consistent.

People tend to like what is familiar. If customers come to know that they can depend on you and your organization to regularly provide timely, factual information, they will likely be more loyal. Provide information and updates to customers on a regular basis, not just when it is convenient for you. This is especially true when you are working on a problem or service breakdown. Remember that they do not know what you know. For example, if you are gathering information or need more time than expected, come back to the customer with periodic updates to give him or her a status check. Do not wait until the time or date that you were expected to resolve the issue to contact the customer; Otherwise, they are likely to be very upset.

For specific strategies on more effective communication with your customers, get a copy of Customer Service Skills for Success and Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#1

Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#1

Gather Information

Customers who feel that they have an active role in and control of a service-provider interaction often feel more important and valued. Improved interpersonal communication can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention and reduced stress for you and your co-workers.

Strengthening Communication with Customers – Tip#1: Gather Information Take advantage of the following strategy to build stronger relationships with your internal and external customers by gathering information.

Ask for customer input whenever possible. By knowing more about their needs, wants and expectations, you will be better able to provide services and products that satisfy them. Use communication strategies in publications, books and on the Internet to gather valuable information from people who you encounter on a daily basis.

For specific strategies on more effective communication with your customers, get a copy of Customer Service Skills for Success and Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

About Robert W. Lucas

Bob Lucas has been a trainer, presenter, customer service expert, and adult educator for over four decades. He has written hundreds of articles on training, writing, self-publishing, and workplace learning skills and issues. He is also an award-winning author who has written thirty-seven books on topics such as, writing, relationships, customer service, brain-based learning, and creative training strategies, interpersonal communication, diversity, and supervisory skills. Additionally, he has contributed articles, chapters, and activities to eighteen compilation books. Bob retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after twenty-two years of active and reserve service.

Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors by Robert W. Lucas at

The key to successfully making money as an author and/or self-publisher is to brand yourself and your company and to make yourself and your book(s) a household name. Part of this is face-to-face interaction with people at trade shows, library events, book readings, book store signings, blogging or guest blogging on a topic related to their book(s). Another strategy involves writing articles and other materials that show up online and are found when people search for a given topic related to a topic about which the author has written.

If you need help building an author platform, branding yourself and your book(s) or generating recognition for what you do, Make Money Writing Books will help. Bob’s popular book addresses a multitude of ideas and strategies that you can use to help sell more books and create residual and passive income streams. The tips outlined in the book are focused to help authors but apply to virtually any professional trying to increase personal and product recognition and visibility.

Handling Angry Customers

Handling Angry Customers

Handling Angry Customers

There seem to be a number of issues that are driving the anger that many customers display when dealing with customer service representatives these days. Contributing factors might include the economy, displeasure with government, unemployment, perceived poor service in general and many other challenges facing society. The reality is that, as a customer service representative, you cannot solve these problems or resolve all of your customer’s concerns. However, what you can do is to control the approach that you take when handling angry customers.

Dealing with disgruntled people requires a certain amount of caution, especially in a time when so many people are becoming violent in response to what they perceive as issues beyond their control. For effectively handling angry customers, you must first help the customer move beyond the emotions of the moment. You can then potentially discover the reason for their anger or frustration.

Before dealing with customers in general, check with your supervisor to find out what your organization’s policies are. Also, determine your level of authority for making decisions related to problem resolution. Having this information before a customer encounter provides the tools and knowledge you need to better handle your customers effectively and professionally.

The following are customer service skills and strategies that you can use when handling angry customers during service breakdowns.

  1. Be positive. Tell the customer what you can do rather than what you cannot do.
  2. Remain objective. Remember, angry customers, are usually frustrated with the organization, product, or service that you represent, not at you.
  3. Acknowledge the customer’s feelings of anger. By taking this approach, you’ve acknowledged the customer’s feelings, demonstrated a willingness to assist, and asked the customer to participate in solving the problem.
  4. Reassure the customer. Indicate that you understand why he or she is angry and that you will work with them to resolve the issues.
  5. Listen actively to determine the cause of their anger. Who is “right” or “wrong” makes no difference when handling angry customers. Actively listening and trying to discover the true issue will assure the customer that you are trying to take care of it for him or her. 
  6. Avoid language that might inflame the situation. Negative words such as problem, no, can’t and you (directed at the person and indicating that they did or did not do something they should have) can be like throwing gasoline on the fire when dealing with an emotionally charged person.
  7. Negotiate an acceptable solution. Elicit ideas or negotiate an alternative with your customer. Ask open-ended questions that make the customer feel that they are in charge of the situation and have some power. For example, “What do you feel would be an acceptable solution to this matter?” Remember that, with some exceptions, most people are typically reasonable and not out to take advantage of the situation when they feel that you are truly acting in their best interest. They just want to be “made whole” again. In other words, they want what they were promised or paid for and to be compensated for their inconvenience.
  8. Conduct a follow-up. If possible, follow-up as soon as you can with the customer. Don’t assume that the organization’s system will work as designed or that the customer was completely satisfied. By taking this extra step, you are recognizing the customer as an important person to you and the organization and letting them know that you really are working with them to resolve their issue(s). This can go a long way towards getting the customer to generate positive word-of-mouth publicity.

There is no guarantee that these strategies will always work when handling angry customers. However, they provide some basic communication skills and service strategies for helping customer service representatives create a positive outcome in a negative situation. This can ultimately contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Nonverbal Differences in Cross-Cultural Communication

Nonverbal Differences in Cross Cultural Communication

Nonverbal Differences in Cross-Cultural Communication

Working in a diverse world can present interesting, yet sometimes challenging, opportunities for today’s customer service representatives. If you earn your living by providing products and services to others, you should invest time and effort to learn about nonverbal differences in cross-cultural communication. It is sometimes easy to forget that your values, beliefs, and practices are not universal. This is especially true related to nonverbal communication cues (body language) that people around the world use to send and receive messages.

The following are two nonverbal differences in cross-cultural communication for you to consider.

Sitting postures. There are various ways that men and women cross their legs when they sit. Depending on the customer with whom you are interacting, you might send a negative message if you are not careful. For example, many men from Western cultures assume a relaxed posture when sitting and cross one leg over the other at the knee so that their footpoints either right or left. This could potentially cause offense to customers from certain cultures. The alternative way for men to cross their legs at the knee is to put one over the other so that the top leg simply hangs down or dangles. Some men are physically uncomfortable with this posture or view it as a homosexual manner of sitting, depending on their culture. As a result, they often avoid this posture. In England and other parts of Europe, the latter posture is the culturally proper way for a man to sit, especially in a business or more formal setting.

Women in many cultures are taught that ladies do not sit with their legs apart and that they should cross their legs either at the knees with one leg draped over the other (as described for men) or tightly at the ankles.

In Korea and Japan where physical balance and control of one’s life is an important value, people often do not cross the legs, but simply sit “squared” in an upright or fairly rigid posture, with both feet on the floor and their hands resting on their knees as they talk.

Touching.  The study of touching in nonverbal communication (haptics), has been explored by researchers for years in an effort to better understand how people from different cultures use and react to touch. There are many touching gestures used that have multiple meanings. Consider the reaction of a stranger that you accidentally rub against a woman in a crowded room compared to a regular customer whose hand or arm you intentionally touch during a business greeting or handshake. Depending on their culture, they may react in totally different ways. For example, in the Middle East there might be a loud outcry and accusations of molestation or an offense against their virtue. In other cultures, there might be no second thought given to the episode. Of course, the outcome scenarios might depend on the manner and context in which you rubbed against them or in which you touched their hand or arm.

The importance of understanding how people from around the world interpret what you might consider as an innocent gesture cannot be understated. For example, many adults in some cultures have a habit of patting the head or caressing the hair of a small child as they comment to a parent about how cute or sweet the child is. In Western cultures, many people might think nothing of this act. However, in countries like India, Singapore, Taiwan, Sri Lanka or Thailand, this could be viewed as an offensive gesture. That is because the head is believed to be the seat of the soul. By touching it, you might be wishing ill upon the person or disrespecting the cultural belief.

To further complicate the issue of touch, people who are more introverted or who tend to be more task-oriented, rather than people-oriented, often protect their personal zone. They typically do not like others intruding on it or touching them, especially strangers. This is why the general rule of thumb in the workplace or business setting is that the only appropriate touching is a professional handshake in Western cultures, and the appropriate greeting in others (e.g. hug, bow or cheek kiss).

Explore this blog to learn more about nonverbal differences in cross-cultural communication and how to effectively use nonverbal cues in diverse customer service situations. You may also want to get a copy of Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service across Cultures.

Improving Verbal Communication with Customers

Improving Verbal Communication with Customers

Improving Verbal Communication with Customers

Many customer service representatives give little thought to the way that they sound to their customers. Typically, they have not received customer service skills training that addresses effective verbal communication. Similarly, they likely have not taken college or professional courses on effective interpersonal communication. The result is that they do not know how to improve their verbal communication with customers.

The following are three areas related to verbal communication that can have an impact on your success when you interact with your customers.

Articulation (sometimes called enunciation or pronunciation) refers to the clarity of your word usage. For example, if you tend to slur words (Whadju say? or I hafta go whitja) or cut off endings (goin’, doin’, gettin’, bein’), you can distort the meaning or frustrate some customers. This is especially true when communicating with customers who do not speak English well and with customers who view speech ability as an indication of educational achievement or your ability to assist them effectively. If you have a problem articulating well, practice by gripping a pencil horizontally between your teeth, reading sentences aloud, and forcing yourself to enunciate each word clearly. Over time, you will find that you slow down and form words more precisely. 

Pauses are another tool that you can use in verbal communication with customers. Pauses can have either a positive or negative impact depending on how you use them. From a positive standpoint, they can be used to allow a customer to reflect on what you just said, to indicate that you are waiting for a response, or to verbally punctuate a point you made or a sentence. The latter is done through intonation and inflection in the voice, or. On the negative side, you can irritate someone through the use of too many vocal pauses or interferences. The pauses might be audible sounds (“uh,” “er,” “um,” “uh-huh”) and are often used when you have doubts or are unsure of what you are saying, not being truthful, or nervous. They are sometimes called verbal fillers.

Silence is a form of implied communication that can be used in a number of ways, some more productive than others. Many customer service representatives have trouble dealing with silence in a conversation. This is unfortunate because silence is a good way to show respect or show that you are listening to the customer while he or she speaks. It is also a simple way to indicate that the other person should say something or contribute some information after you have asked a question.

The topic of interpersonal communication cannot be addressed adequately in a single post due to its complexity. There are many factors that impact it. For example, in addition to the way that you communicate, you have to consider factors related to your customers (e.g. example, age, gender, diversity factors, and education level).

To expand your knowledge of the topic of verbal communication with customers, I suggest that you view other posts in this blog, search the Internet, read books, and attend workshops on the subject.

Nonverbal Communication Skills in Customer Service

Nonverbal Communication Skills in Customer Service

Nonverbal Communication Skills in Customer Service

Effective nonverbal communication skills in customer service are the bedrock of understanding and customer satisfaction. This is especially true when dealing with people from different cultures. If you do not realize the power of the unspoken messages that you continually send with your body, you are likely destined for relationship breakdowns. This is because many research studies have identified nonverbal cues (body language) as being more powerful than spoken words.

To compound the opportunity for misunderstandings, many cultures assign different meanings to similar gestures, postures, and facial expressions. Being conscious of these nuances when dealing with someone from a culture other than your own can help in reducing the chance for communication failures.

What advice can you offer others related to developing positive nonverbal communication skills in customer service?

The following are areas of nonverbal communication to consider whenever you are in the presence of either your internal or external customers.

Smiling. Researchers have known for years that smiling is one of the few gestures that universally send a positive message of friendship and indicate that you are approachable. As a service provider, you should go out of your way to consciously offer a genuine smile, along with an appropriate greeting when interacting with customers.

Active posture. Think about your reaction to someone’s posture and actions when you are interacting with him or her. Most people notice the nonverbal messages that they receive. Things such as professional appearance, posture, and demeanor typically project a “can do” in a given situation. Anything less can say, “I’m just doing my job.”

People form first impressions about you and your organization within seconds of coming into contact face-to-face or over the phone. Ask yourself, “What image do I project in dealing with my customers?” For example, do you sit or stand behind a desk or counter and wait for the customer to approach and open dialogue. Or, do you get up or move toward your customer with a smile, handshake or other proactive gesture while verbally welcoming them. Whenever possible, do the latter since this projects an image of equality and willingness to do your part to assist the customer. Similarly, on the telephone, sit or stand up straight and ensure there is nothing in your mouth (e.g. food, drink or gum) when speaking. Otherwise, your words can sound muffled or unclear. Also, make sure that you smile regularly because the tone of your voice can project an upbeat attitude.

Related to active posture, failing to stand up from behind a desk when approached by a customer might be viewed as a closed or rude behavior. Some might even view you as acting in a superior manner. This is certainly not a path to positive customer service and customer satisfaction. If you reflect back to your own past experiences, you have likely encountered this behavior at government or utility offices (i.e. tax office, vehicle registration/licensing agency, law enforcement agencies, or water/electric company) or reception desks in organizations (i.e. banks, gyms, auto repair facilities, or medical/dental offices) where there is typically a large volume of customer traffic. Did you feel welcomed and served, or simply “processed” similar to how cattle moving into a slaughterhouse might feel?

Positive gestures. Studies have found that people react differently to various types of gestures. To prevent potential misunderstandings or incorrect interpretations of your intended meaning, consciously think before you act. For example, some people prefer not to be touched or use different greeting gestures (i.e. traditional palm-to-palm handshake, hug, kiss on the cheek[s]) based on their gender, culture, background or personality. Similarly, the manner in which one crosses his or her legs when seated can differ.

The easiest way to help ensure that you exhibit positive nonverbal communication skills in customer service is to study the topic. Once you have the knowledge of appropriate gestures to use in various situations and with people of different backgrounds, you will be on your way to enhancing customer satisfaction. Just remember that you should never stereotype your customers. All members of a given group may not share the same values, beliefs, and preferences based on their individual backgrounds. Pay attention to customer reactions when you interact and modify your behavior as required.

For additional ideas on the topic of using effective nonverbal communication skills in customer service, search that topic on this blog. Also, check out to learn more about making positive impressions on current and potential customers, get copies of Customer Service Skills for Success and Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Avoid Assumptions When Communicating Across Cultures

Ways to Avoid Assumptions When Communicating Across Cultures

Avoid Assumptions When Communicating Across Cultures

During interpersonal communication, assumptions can sometimes result because of culturally specific understandings. Preconceived ideas can often cause relationship breakdowns and misunderstandings when dealing with a customer who speaks a different language. Even so, there are ways to avoid assumptions when communicating across cultures with someone who speaks a different native language than you do.  If you must assume, then assume that your customer is an intelligent and competent person with whom you can communicate. Then, work with a positive, “can-do” attitude to help ensure you that understand one another correctly.

Recognize that raising your voice when dealing with someone who speaks another primary language is useless. For some reason, many North Americans feel that if they raise their voice to someone who does not speak English well, the person will understand what is being said. An example of how communication can break down between people from different backgrounds was seen several years ago in the popular movie Rush Hour, starring actors Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. In that movie, both played police officers, Tucker from Los Angeles and Chan from Hong Kong. They met at the Los Angeles airport when Chan flew into town. Here is a synopsis of a scene in which Tucker goes to the airport to pick up a Chan.

Tucker assumes that Chan cannot speak English and raises his voice as he yells, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” Not only did Chan understand, but he later begins to communicate fluently in English. When Tucker acts surprised, miffed, and states, “You did not tell me that you spoke English.” Chan nonchalantly says, “I did not say I didn’t speak English. You assumed that I did not speak English.”

Such actions do little to enhance communication. In fact, yelling or changing tone does nothing to enhance understanding and may well anger or embarrass your customer. It certainly makes you look foolish. Just because a customer is unable to speak English, does not mean that he or she is hearing impaired.

To prevent embarrassment and degradation involving customers, take time to research various cultures. Try to learn some basic phrases spoken by foreign-born customers who frequently do business with your organization. By improving your cultural awareness, global knowledge, and communication skills you can improve the chances that you will provide excellent service to customers.

For additional ideas on how to successfully avoid assumptions when communicating across cultures, check out Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures and Customer Service Skills for Success.

4 Customer Service Skills That Can Help Enhance Customer Satisfaction

4 Customer Service Skills That Can Help Enhance Customer Satisfaction

4 Customer Service Skills That

Can Help Enhance Customer Satisfaction

Effective customer service skills that can help enhance customer satisfaction are important for every employee in an organization. However, they are crucial for front-line customer service representatives who are the first contact point for customers. Today’s customer contacts come from many sources:

  • Face-to-face.
  • Over the telephone.
  • Via electronic technology (e.g. chat, Facebook, Twitter or another online platform).

Customer service representatives must have the knowledge and skills required to respond appropriately in a timely manner. Anything less can negatively impact customer satisfaction and could lead to disgruntled customers, increased customer churn and negative word-of-mouth publicity. The latter can be deadly for an organization because in the past research found people with negative experiences often told nine to sixteen of their friends or acquaintances about their experience. With social media and mobile technology, that number jumps exponentially and can be worldwide in a matter of seconds via customer feedback sites like Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. Such websites provide a forum for customers to exchange information and feedback or offer product and service reviews.

What Customer Service Skills that can help enhance customer satisfaction are crucial for organizational success? 

The following are four customer service skills that can help enhance customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty.

  1. Solid product and service knowledge. Few things are more frustrating for a customer than a customer service representative who lacks the knowledge or available information to answer a question or help resolve an issue with products or services that the customer either has or wants. Successful organizations invest time and money in customer service training for all new employees on all aspects of the organization and what it provides to internal and external customers. If training is not provided, employees should take the initiative to ask questions of peers and supervisors and read available information and manuals. This demonstrates initiative potentially prevents an embarrassing situation in which the customer service representative cannot answer a customer’s questions.
  2. Active Listening Skills. Listening is the most used sense that most people have to gather information in order to formulate a response or make a decision. It is also a skill that is typically not taught in school or on the job, practiced effectively in life, or thought about as being important enough to strive for improvement by most people. Many people assume that they know how to listen simply because they have a normal range of hearing. This is a huge mistake. Hearing is an inactive physiological process of gathering sounds. Active listening involves actively focusing on what is heard and processing that information before formulating an appropriate verbal or non-verbal response. In a customer environment, active listening is a crucial skill and service representatives should continually work to hone and update this talent.
  3. Effective Communication Skills. All customer service representatives must possess effective communication skills and be able to effectively communicate verbally, non-verbally and in writing in order to interact appropriately with customers. These skills take training and practice. In addition to learning how to communicate in different forms, employees should seek feedback on how well they are doing in communicating with others. A simple means for them to find out how others perceive their skills is to ask people who know them and have seen them in action working with customers. By soliciting feedback on their communication skills, they can quickly identify strong and weak areas. In addition to formal communication training in the classroom or via technology, peer and supervisory coaching are two good ways that many organizations provide feedback to employees.
  4. Patience. Some people say that patience is a virtue. That may seem true when dealing with a frustrated, irritated or angry customer. A customer service representative who lacks patience in dealing with customers is likely to encounter more than one situation in which customer-service provider emotions escalate. The result of such encounters can be yelling (verbally or in writing through the use of all capital letters), threats, escalation to a supervisor, negative comments about the organization and employee(s) to others, and potentially, even violence. To ensure that this skill is exercised, many companies train employees to address frustrated or angry customers through roleplay scenarios and offer stress management training. They also empower employees to make decisions so that they do not always have to summon a supervisor in situations when customer issues arise. This can go a long way in helping keep emotional levels low.

There are many things that affect the outcomes of any customer situation. If a customer service representative possesses and uses these four customer service skills that can help enhance customer satisfaction, he or she is likely to be more effective in working with customers.

For more information on effective strategies customer service skills that can help enhance customer satisfaction and help build customer loyalty, research the topic on this blog. Also, check out Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service across Cultures, Customer Service Skills for Success and American Management Association’s self-study course, How to Be a Great Call Center Representative.

Typical Customer Contact Center Representative Competencies

Typical Customer Contact Center Representative Competencies

Typical Customer Contact Center Representative Competencies

To perform well in a call center/customer care center, employees must possess some very special competencies or capacities/abilities to perform required job tasks. Because of the specific requirements of the job, organizations must look for candidates possessing many of these typical customer contact representative competencies as possible. It is essential that call center/customer care center personnel have strong interpersonal communication skills, be organized, able to problem solve, and have a strong sense of the importance of their function as the “face” of the organization.

The following are some common competencies that employers look for in applicants desiring to work in a call center/customer care center. These are listed in alphabetical order and vary in importance depending on the organizational mission.

Business acumen. An understanding of the relationship between their jobs and how they impact the business and customers.

Contact management. Ability to control customer interaction once they contact the representative through a variety of assigned technology.

Change management. Ability to adapt to and handle changing situations and customer and business environments.

Conflict resolution. Ability to use effective interpersonal skills to resolve difficult customer-provider interactions.

Cross-selling. In environments where selling of products and services is a business focus, the ability to recognize potential customer needs and opportunities to sell or up-sell to customers.

Decision making. Ability to gather and analyze information, then apply appropriate interventions to resolve and issue or come to a decision.

Interpersonal communication. Ability to actively listen, question appropriately, provide feedback, and use customer communication skills to build and strengthen customer relationships.

Managing diversity. Cultural diversity knowledge and the ability to interact with a variety of people from various backgrounds in the workplace.

Managing stress. Ability to maintain a calm demeanor and mental state when situations and emotions escalate to higher levels when interacting with a customer.

For additional call center/customer care center competencies, ideas, techniques and strategies for enhancing customer relationships, and information on ways to build solid interpersonal communication skills, check out How to Be a Great Call Center Representative. In this self-study course book, you will find hundreds of powerful ideas for improving knowledge and skills that can aid in meeting customer needs, wants and expectations and lead to greater customer satisfaction and retention. You also receive a certificate from the renowned American Management Association.

Effective Listening and Interpersonal Communication Skills for Customer Service Representatives

Effective Listening and Interpersonal Communication Skills for Customer Service Representatives

Effective Listening and Interpersonal Communication Skills

for Customer Service Representatives

Effective listening and interpersonal communication skills for customer service representatives are crucial in ensuring that customers are satisfied and less likely to desert an organization. Many customer service representatives assume that they know how to effectively listen to their customers. After all, don’t they do it every day? The response to that question for many of them is a resounding NO!

What a lot of people who deal with customers think of as listening is actually the physiological process of hearing. In that process, sounds are gathered through the ear and transmitted to the brain. Unless the person then takes time to focus on the context of the message, analyze it and respond appropriately, listening has not occurred.

The following tips can increase customer service effectiveness, help build customer loyalty and satisfaction and aid customer retention.

Learn how to effectively listen to your customers. You can do this by taking the time to read articles and books and attend listening training sessions on the topic.

Identify your own listening abilities and limitations. An easy way to accomplish this is to record yourself interacting with people who you know (e.g. family and friends) in order to hear what they hear during a conversation. If you are not listening and responding appropriately in such instances, you won’t do so with your customers either. Also, ask people you know well to rate you on various aspects of listening (e.g. attending to their messages and responding appropriately to what they said).

Recognize the verbal and nonverbal cues sent by customers. The majority of meaning in a message between two people is derived from the subtle unspoken cues that they send. If you are not familiar with such messages, study the topics to increase your awareness. Then make it a habit to focus on the “whole” message a person is sending to you when interacting face-to-face with them. On the telephone, learn to identify unspoken messages based on rate, pitch, volume, and inflection of their voice or their word choice and emotion.

Use paraphrasing throughout the conversation. By repeating back or summarizing in different ways, what your customer has said periodically, you can ensure that you understood their need or concern correctly before you offer a response or try to assist them. For example, if a customer calls about a defective product that they received, you might paraphrase with something like, “If I understood you correctly, you ordered _____ and when it was delivered, there was a missing part. Is that correct?

Get feedback from the customer. Do not assume that you responded correctly or that the customer is satisfied with your level of service. You want to be known as a person or organization that delivers excellent customer service. To make that happens, pause and ask for validation and approval throughout your interaction with your customer. Use closed-end questions that start with an action verb to get agreement or verification. Examples are:

  • Did I summarize your concern correctly?
  • Does what I said help you with this issue?
  • Is there anything else that I can help you with?

Realize that each culture communicates differently. There are entire books, training programs, higher education courses and conferences designed around the topic of intercultural communication. Take advantage of these resources if you plan to be successful in working in a diverse workplace or communicating effectively with others in your daily life.

Effective listening is about focusing on your customers and using effective interpersonal communication skills that will make them feel welcomed, cared for and served well. For you to perform your duties effectively as a customer service representative, you have to continually strive to learn and hone your listening skills and other people skills, especially when it comes to dealing with a diverse customer base.

For additional listening and interpersonal communication tips and hundreds of other customer service strategies that can aid in developing the best customer service culture possible, get copies of Customer Service Skills for Success, Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures, and How to Be a Great Call Center Representative.

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