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Emily Dziatlik explains that customer service is key

2011-08-14

Hello…? Hellooo? Looking around the store, I can’t see any employee to help me check out. I have been waiting at the front desk ready to leave for about 30 minutes, and I have not seen a single employee yet. If you listen, you can faintly hear a small voice gossiping on the phone. It sounds like whoever is on shift is in the back talking to her friends on the phone. I think to myself, if she is too busy talking on the phone, and unable to help me purchase my items, then I will go somewhere else. Just like that, this clothing store lost a purchase from me, and more importantly, they lost a valuable customer. Why would I ever shop there again? Has this ever happened to you?

In today’s economy, for any goods or services offered on the market, there are at least three different companies that offer the exact same thing. What sets a business apart is their customer service. If employees are rude and unhelpful, they can drive their customers away. No matter how great of a promotion the store is offering, it won’t matter because customers will never shop there. Think back to bad customer service you had to go through. You remember being so angry that you vowed to never shop there again! You wanted to go home and tell everyone what a horrible experience you had there. You have started a ripple effect. When you had a negative experience with that company, chances are you went home angry and told your family and friends about it. Then your friends told their other friends and so on. One bad experience can have a major effect on that company that treated you badly. This could potentially cause lose that company both returning and future customers.

With DECA and Collegiate DECA, many students compete in some type of customer service. These tips will not only help you in competition but they will also benefit you at work. There is nothing more impressive to an employer than an employee with GREAT customer service. It shows that you can be trusted with customers and that you are a good representation of the company itself. Would you like to know the secrets to GREAT customer service?

Answer your phone. How many times have you called a business and nobody answered? Or when you finally get through to someone you are put on hold? This can be so frustrating! Whenever your phone is ringing at work - pick it up! Good customer service is answering the phone in three rings or less. When putting someone on hold, leave them on hold for no more than 30 seconds. Sometimes this can be impossible when you are helping another customer. If you think you are going to be a while, get the caller’s contact information and let the person on the phone know you will call them back that same day.

Don't make promises unless you plan to keep them. When you are talking with a customer and trying to close a sale, don’t promise things that you can’t deliver. If you promise them a discount, but you didn’t check with your boss, you are going to feel pretty embarrassed when you have to go back to your customer and explain to them why you can’t give it to them. Save yourself the humiliation and only promise customers things you know you can actually do.

Listen to your customers and calmly deal with their complaints. When a customer comes into your business complaining about a product that they’ve recently purchased, listen to what they have to say! Don’t jump into the middle of the conversation thinking that you know what to do. Listen to the whole complaint. Have you ever tried to tell a store employee what’s wrong with your product and they just kept interrupting you? As soon as the customer is done explaining their problem, repeat to them what you understood them to say. This shows that you were listing to them and not wasting their time. It displays that you understand their complaint and you will do whatever you can to work with them. Any businesses customer service can show sympathy, but great customer service will show empathy.

Be helpful - even if there's no immediate profit visible. Always go out of your way to help your customers. This is the best way to show your customer service goes above and beyond. When a customer has a question, listen to the whole question, repeat it back to them, and then solve it! Think about what would make you satisfied if you were in their shoes.

Customer service is the essential key to gaining and maintaining customers. One bad conversation with a customer could lead to losing that customer and all their friends and family. DECA is a great organization that demonstrates through role plays and competition how to give excellent customer service. Apply what you learn through DECA and use it when you are dealing with any customer – content or upset. When you have to deal with negative customers, think back to your role play and treat the situation as if you were presenting to a judge. Never be afraid to go above and beyond for a customer and always give 110%!

design & development: Fathom Creative, Inc. (fathomcreative.com), Maribel Costa, Anthony D. Paul (anthonydpaul), Brent Maxwell, Efrat Levush, Shelli Silverstein, Byron Hughey