Customer Service Training 101

Whether you are in a new customer service role or simply need some customer service refresher tips, Customer Service Training 101, is the book for you. 

Now in its third edition (originally published in 2005), you’ll find practical and actionable techniques and behaviors to ensure you are providing the best possible service for your customers. 

Along with dozens of scenarios, examples, guidelines and practice lessons, author, Renee Evenson, also provides a focus on customer service in today’s marketplace, which includes effectively using social media. 

My favorite parts of the book include Evenson’s techniques for effective customer service via the phone and for properly responding to customer complaints. 

First, for effective customer service via the phone:
  • Verbalize what you are doing – explain to your customer what you are doing throughout the phone contact. Never assume that the person on the other end understands. 
  • During pauses, tell the customer what is happening – Silence, to a customer on the other end of a phone line, can create confusion: Are you still there? What are you doing? Letting them know you are still there and working on the issue at hand builds trust.
  • Explain why you need to place customers on hold – and be sure to tell your customer approximately how long it will take.
Next, you’ll provide excellent customer service when you follow these five main steps (and additional sub-steps) when responding to a customer complaint, explains Evenson:

Understand the complaint
  • Listen

  • Apologize

  • Assure

  • Recap

  • Display empathy
Identify the cause
  • Investigate the situation

  • Determine if the customer has a valid complaint

  • Apologize again if necessary

  • Explain what happened
Solve the problem
  • Offer your best solution

  • Focus on what you can do

  • Never assign blame

  • Show compassion

  • Offer an alternative solution
Restore the relationship
  • Thank the customer for allowing you to make things right

  • Offer something extra

  • Make a follow-up call or visit
Fix what needs to be fixed
  • Analyze what went wrong

  • Fix the problem

  • Make things better
Evenson also recommends:
  • Make sure your attitude is never indifferent, but one of making a difference.
  • Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to see things from his/her perspective.
  • Focus on the problem, not the person’s attitude or behavior.
  • Display empathy toward the customer’s situation.
  • Focus on what you can do.
When customers take the time to complain, they are giving you a gift,” says Evenson. “They are giving you the opportunity to make the situation right. When you do so, you will not only save this customer, you also save others who would not have taken the time to tell you when something is wrong.” 

Customer Service Training 101, is suitable for nearly any type of business – retail and non-retail.


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