Some of us truly enjoy customer service. While much of the job is fairly routine, there is a certain satisfaction to be gained in helping customers find the answers they’re looking for. This can be true even if they don’t end up making a purchase. But what if you’re one of those people who don’t enjoy supporting customers at all?
If customer service is all you do, and you hate it, you should be thinking of new career options. But if it’s an unavoidable part of an otherwise fun job, read on to find out how to start making customer support bearable – and even enjoyable. Because isn’t it a shame to spend a large part of your life engaged in a task that doesn’t stimulate you?
Customer service as a team challenge
Some people find supporting customers a demeaning task. “Well, let’s face it: you’re essentially a servant,” someone once told me. (Cheers for that.) Others think it’s boring. “It’s just the same old same old!” And then there are those who just don’t like people.
One way to keep customer service entertaining is to get your colleagues involved, and even compete with them a little. For starters, you could introduce Whole Company Support – and not just so you can palm the customers off on your least loved colleague! An important aspect of Whole Company Support is that it gives everyone in the company a chance to try their hand at providing customer service. Employees are reminded of the real reason they come to work each day – not the boss, but the customers – and every aspect of the business becomes more customer-oriented.
The first challenge you can try is to encourage your colleagues to match your pace. But be careful: speed is not the most important factor in serving customers. In fact, excessive speed can lead to a reduction in service standards.
You can also challenge your colleagues to keep customer interactions down to the lowest possible number of ‘rounds’. Each time a customer has to contact you for further information on the same issue, that’s a ‘round’. Keeping your round numbers down is an indicator that you’re answering your customers’ enquiries thoroughly, meaning that they don’t need to contact you with endless rounds of follow-up questions. Offer a prize for the winner – and perhaps even a booby prize for the one with the highest number of rounds.
Customer service as an important area of expertise
Enjoying the job pretty much comes down to changing your mindset. The thing is, customer service is only demeaning if you choose to think of it in that way. Really. You’re sitting there feeling hard done-by because you feel like you’re at people’s beck and call. The fact is that you’re an expert and people are coming to you for your help, advice and expertise.
Whether that expertise happens to be in knowing exactly how long it will take to ship an item to their location, whether it’s possible to source a certain product, or whether your business’s service is suitable for the customer’s specific needs – you are a consultant. You’re ready and willing to advise potential new business leads on what your company can offer them.
So next time it’s your turn to take care of customer enquiries at your SME, remember that you’re working as a specialist consultant addressing logistical and technical issues. You’re just presenting your expertise in a slightly more friendly and polite manner than your average authority on a topic.
Customer service as a nice bit of self-healing
A big part of customer service is about understanding your customer’s psyche, but sometimes you need to take a good look at your own psychology. Ever noticed how when you’re in a bad mood, things happen to make you feel even worse? Human nature being what it is, we sometimes like to wallow in unhappy experiences, or to do things to make others feel just as grumpy as we are.
When you get into a cycle of negative thoughts, it can be very hard to break out of it. But you should at least try. The theory of reciprocal liking states that we like people who like us. The opposite is also true. If you hate dealing with customers, you send out signals to that effect, and you are much more likely to get a negative response from the customer you dislike (believe me, your dislike is just as obvious in written communication as it is in person or on the phone). That in turn makes you even more grumpy, and the negative cycle continues with the next customer.
Breaking a negative thought cycle takes practice. Looking into and addressing the things that really put you off about dealing with customers – and not just writing yourself off as ‘not really a people person’ – can have an enormously positive impact on how they respond to you. Which, of course, makes dealing with them much more pleasant.
Sure, you may not ever go bounding to the keyboard shouting: “Yippee, customer service time!” But you can certainly make it a rewarding and enjoyable part of your job.
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