Communication is essential for most human-to-human interactions, and customer service is a key example of these interactions. Effective customer service involves “reading” the other person, gathering information, and responding to those needs.
Here are examples of how great communication supports customer service:
- Suspend judgement. Serving customers requires an open mind, so you are gathering information rather than presupposing needs.
- Listen for the underlying needs and values. The expressed question may not be the actual underlying need. Listen for the values and emotion driving the question.
- Wait. In today’s fast-paced world and resource shortages, it is easy to jump in and cut off the customer mid-sentence with a solution. Just listen—the person may answer their own question or close the deal just by talking.
- Focus on the other person. Listen to what the other person already knows, and what they need to know. Follow the conversation, rather than driving it.
- Practice empathy. Emotionally connecting with another person to read their needs is a core competency and best practice for customer service.
- Avoid multi-tasking. Today’s video-mediated environment makes it too easy to answer emails while on a customer call. Give the customer your full attention.
- Ask customers for feedback and know where to send that feedback for action.
- Stay flexible. A clear customer service competency is being flexible in the moment—noticing unexpressed needs and offering to fill them in real time.
- Know yourself and what pushes your buttons. Sometimes, customers will prompt negative emotions. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid getting derailed.
Effective customer service requires understanding and responding to a customer’s motives and needs. When a need is met, the customer feels positive emotion. Communication skills are core to customer service—and customer service professionals that translate communication into value for the customer are priceless for an organization.