Delivering customer service excellence with positive, solution-focused responses

Delivering customer service excellence with positive, solution-focused responses

 

Delivering customer service excellence with positive, solution-focused responses

26th March 2024

Customer Service Excellence

Customer satisfaction can be strongly influenced by the immediate responses given whenever customers ask a question or make a request of us. The initial response we give indicates to the customer how solution-focused we are, whether we are really listening to understand their needs, are empathetic and collaborative. The choice the service giver makes about the words they use and how they demonstrate the action that they will take is fundamental to delivering excellent service.  

Building rapport and demonstrating that we are an organisation which listens and cares can easily be demonstrated in the first thing we say to a customer. Whatever the request, question, or feedback, we can always start with something positive, what can be done, something appreciative, empathetic, or collaborative. When we consider questions initially, these fall into three categories. Things we can say ‘yes’ to, things we are not sure about, and situations where we are unable to do exactly what the customer is asking of us or where we have to say ‘no’. Taking each in turn, by listening out to service providers either in your own organisation or as a customer, you will hear how quickly trust and satisfaction can be built, as well how easy it is to trigger dissatisfaction very early in an interaction. 



Saying ‘yes’ 


When we can do what the customer asks of us it is important to clearly tell them yes, we can do that. When we listen to customer service interactions it is surprising just how often we can miss the opportunity to definitely and unequivocally say yes, we can do what you are asking of us. In our experience we hear responses that start with a question rather than a definitive ‘yes,’ we can do that for you. Saying ‘yes’ clearly and positively when we know we can meet the customer’s need, before asking any clarifying questions gives the customer confidence that we have options and a way forward for them, and the details can then be worked out.  

Building rapport and demonstrating that we are an organisation which listens and cares can easily be demonstrated in the first thing we say to a customer.


Let me check to see what is possible
 

If there is any doubt that we can provide exactly what the customer is asking of us, then the first thing to say is that we will check to see what is possible. It is essential not to raise false hope or create doubt for the customer. Phrases such as ‘that should be OK’ or conversely ‘I’m not sure we will be able to do that for you’ cause potential unnecessary disappointment either immediately or in the future when we discover that in fact, we are not able to do what the customer asked. Simply saying to a customer as our first response, I would be happy to find out for you or let me check for you, avoids these service pitfalls. 


Start with what you can do when the answer is ‘no’
 

Finally, the most important response to get right by the first thing said is when you know you are not able to do exactly what the customer wants or definitely have to say ‘no’ to a specific request. To build positive relationships and trust it is of course important to be clear about things we are unable or unwilling to do. Starting with something that is possible, an alternative or an empathetic statement, only then followed by what is not possible, demonstrates to the customer or other person that we are committed to finding solutions or can appreciate the impact of the situation on them.  


A tipping point for excellent service
 

Always starting a response to a customer’s question with what is possible, what action we will take to check and of course clearly saying ‘yes’ when we can immediately assist is a tipping point for excellent service which builds trust and satisfaction. The opposite, saying what we are not able to do as an immediate response, missing the opportunity to clearly say ‘yes’ or instilling false hope or doubt into a customer’s mind is a disservice to them and is likely to result in customer dissatisfaction or disappointment.  

At MGI, we have been out and about surveying retailers and call centres to find out what responses are given to a question that is likely to result in the service giver needing to check what is possible and potentially having to deliver disappointing news. While initial indications show there are some excellent examples of positive service, the larger proportion of responses miss the opportunity to demonstrate that solution-focused approach. We will share the results of this research in upcoming articles.  

Book a chat with us to find out how our Mindset, Language & Actions Toolkit can equip your customer service teams with everything they need to deliver positive, solution-focused responses first time, every time. 

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