The Five Questions You Need To Know to Champion Customer Service

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When I sit down with any one of the suppliers that I’m going to interview for the Supplier Spotlight blogs, my first question to them is always: is there an angle you’d like to approach? And almost all of them sing praises about their customer service team. Consistently, these suppliers have customer service stories that exceed expectations. They know to put the customer first because a happy customer is a returning customer.

Take, for example, Crystal D, who I interviewed in March to talk about their business. Jen Boyles, the Marketing Coordinator for Crystal D, was beyond excited to share their recent customer service success story with me. They personally flew plaques that a customer had ordered to New York City (you can read more about that story here) to meet their in-hands deadline. If you heard this story, you would want to do business with them, right?

Whether you are in a B2B or B2C industry, a customer is still just a customer, and there is always the possibility of an emotional reaction when they experience a challenge or problem. It could be that they’re panicked because they need twenty shirts printed and shipped by Friday, or an order hasn’t shown up on time, or maybe they have a small order, and they’re not sure if you can accommodate them. Having empathy towards their problem and relating to the customer can go a long way to establishing a good rapport with them.

To simplify it, most customers (even you and me!) will go through a list of five questions subconsciously when dealing with a business:

Let’s break this down even further.

1. Did You Listen To Me?

It may be a given, but listening to your customer is essential. Practice active listening, which is the ability to focus entirely on the speaker, understand their problem or challenge and then respond thoughtfully and knowledgeably to their question or concern. Learn how to become an active listener, which means you can entirely focus on the customer, understand what they’re saying, and then formulate a thoughtful response. An excellent way to show your customer that you’re listening to them is to use affirmative language.

2. Did you make me feel important?

Did you give your undivided attention to your customer? Using that affirmative language is an excellent start to letting them know that they are your primary concern right now. Following up with a customer a day or so later is also a great way to make them feel like they were important to you.

3. Did you understand me and my question or concern?

This one goes hand-in-hand with the first two questions. We know using active listening skills and affirmative language is a great way to show your customers that you’re attentive to their needs and you aren’t going to blow them off. But when it comes to showing that you understand their question or concern, a great way to do this is to ask a follow-up question or paraphrase their situation by summarizing and restating the main points of their question or concern. “Just so I have all the correct information to help you better, you would like to know if you can rush order one hundred of our Smooth Line pens?” This will ease their anxiety about calling customer service and let them know that you gave your undivided attention to them and fully understand their needs. Part of the frustration many consumers face when dealing with customer service is not feeling understood.

4. Did I trust and believe you?

Trust is a big part of customer service! When you’re attentive to your customer, they know they can speak freely to you about their questions or concerns without judgment or interruptions.

5. Did I like you?

In this day and age of automatic calls and bots in chat boxes, it’s nice to hear a person on the other end! Be as friendly and engaging as you can; while looking up their order, ask them about the weather or their day. I have had some entertaining conversations with customer service folks just by them asking me simple questions. It will help ease your customer’s frustrations, and they’ll remember the charming person on the other end of the line who asked them how their day was.

Ultimately, it’s not always incentives that make a customer service experience great. It’s the ability to connect and understand just what their needs are and exceed their expectations. After all, nobody expects a company to fly their plaques to New York or stay up all night making sure an order is perfect. And even if you don’t have the time or resources to make that happen, your customer will appreciate the attention you gave to their problem. They trust you to make sure that you did everything within your power to handle their question or concern.

Looking for more information on how to ensure your customers are happy? Dig deeper with our white paper The CRM Strategy: A Distributor’s Guide to Higher Profits and Happier Customers.

With SAGE Online’s CRM module, you can easily manage your interactions with your current and prospective customers. Not only can you store all your customers’ contact information, but you can also track your leads, record sales opportunities, schedule follow-ups, and link all your presentations and order forms directly to your customer. Now that’s customer service!

For step-by-step instructions on how to use the SAGE Online CRM module, check out this beginner’s guide.

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(Marketing Content Writer)

Betty is the Marketing Content Writer at SAGE. She is a self-proclaimed, bonafide nerd, and when she's not writing, you can find her playing video games, watching documentaries, hunting for heavy metal records, and going down rabbit-holes on Wikipedia.

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