If there is one thing that we know a lot about, and train our employees on, it’s customer service. We understand that as a live answering service we are the face and voice for our clients to their customers. And we know that if we do not treat those customers right it reflects very poorly on our clients which is unacceptable. What we have found in working with a lot of small businesses over the years is that while they expect us to provide excellent customer service, they don’t always expect or train their employees to do the same.

Let me tell you a little secret. Your customer’s first impression of your business is often derived from interaction with your employees.  The customer service skills demonstrated by your employees can make or break your relationships with your clients.  You’re dependent upon your employees to deliver phenomenal and effective service in an effort to gain and retain customers.  There are several things you can do to improve the customer service skills of your employees.  Here are 6 great tips that we at PCNAnswers offer to our clients to help them to train their employees to offer excellent service:

Tip 1:  Encourage Innovation and Involvement

Think of your front-line employees as the eyes and ears of your business.  Your employees are often the first people your customers come into contact with.  When your customers aren’t happy, your front-line employees will hear about it.  Likewise, when your front-line employees aren’t happy,  your customers are often negatively affected. Oftentimes, your employees can identify areas of opportunity as a result of their interactions with your customers. With that said, take time to request feedback and suggestions from employees and use the information provided to implement new policies and procedures in an effort to improve your business operations.

Tip 2:  Communicate Positive Messages

Your employees encounter a variety of personality types every day.  This often subjects your employees to a certain level of negativity.  Dealing with unhappy and unpleasant customers on a day-to-day basis can take its toll.  Whether it’s good news about the company’s achievements or just simple words of encouragement, taking time to communicate positive messages creates positive moods and in turn, improves customer service skills.

Tip 3:  Recognize Outstanding Service and Achievements

Take time to recognize achievements such as outstanding service, perfect attendance, years of service, etc.  Some suggestions include:

  • Offer paid time off to the highest achiever(s)
  • Offer casual dress days
  • Free lunch

Tip 4:  Interact with your Employees

Many of your greatest assets are hidden behind cubicle walls.  With that said, you may not have an abundance of interaction with them.  Interaction with your employees sends messages of acknowledgment and appreciation.  Promote interaction in a variety of ways, including:

Focus groups – Small group sessions where Senior Management shares important corporate information and opens the floor for suggestions.

Team meetings – Allow time for individual groups to communicate with each other (allowing a live answering service to take some or all of your phone calls is a great way to free your staff up for this).  This allows employees to work as a team to overcome many of the daily obstacles they face.

Observation – Spend time on-the-job with your employees in an effort to put yourself in their position and better identify areas of opportunity.

Tip 5:  Demonstrate Positive Behaviors

Create an organizational culture that cultivates positive growth. Demonstrate behaviors you expect your employees to pass on to your customers.  Communicate your expectations to your employees and hold them accountable for results.  Great customer service skills are delivered by employees who are provided with well-defined rules and expectations.

Tip 6:  Customer Feedback

Many companies use surveys to measure customer satisfaction.  Customers want great products, but also expect outstanding service.  Surveys are a great tool used to measure customer satisfaction and help organizations identify areas of opportunity.