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Customer Service Tools and Skills

In order to render top level customer service, there are certain
minimum skills people must possess and tools a company must
have. The tools are relatively easy to purchase or develop. Providing
them is a key component of management responsibility.
The skills, although an equally key part of management responsibility
usually cannot be bought, but they can be taught.



Tools



Reporting system to track and evaluate customer service performance.
This need not be a complex system; it can be as simple
as a scorecard.



Forms, policies and procedures that make it easy for a customer
to buy. Do your forms, policies and procedures complicate
or simplify the purchasing process?



Communication systems that allow for immediate access to a
real person. Give your customers person-to-person contact.



Communication systems that allow and encourage customers
to deal with your company. As with policies and procedures,
make it easy for them and you.



Training seminars to expose every employee to contemporary
views of customer service. Customer service is not common sense,
it is an acquired skill.



Adequate equipment to handle customer requests and requirements.
You must have the infrastructure to support your goals.



Work environment that is conducive to serving the internal
and external customer. Make sure the place is clean, professional,
organized and laid out properly



Readily accessed computer database containing all significant
customer information. Have all your customer’s information in
one, easily accessible and user-friendly database.



Sufficient personnel and phone lines to limit “being on hold”
to a minimum. The longest 10 minutes is 30 seconds on hold.



Physical and equipment capability to deliver product or service
on time.




Skills



Keen observation of employee and customer behavior. Don’t
judge people by what they say but by what they do.



Active listening and open-mindedness about suggestions for
improvement. You and your senior managers don’t have a
monopoly on good ideas.



Motivation to achieve continual improvement in customer
service. Money is a good motivator but nearly so good as simple
recognition of a job well done.



Communicate goals and expectations clearly and concisely.



Problem-solving that eliminates root causes and not just symptoms.
Find the root cause and you’ll deal with the problem once.



Focus on fully meeting customer needs. Remember the prior
articles and their guidelines.



Intolerance of ineffective performance. If someone doesn’t get
the job done, then take action.



Encourage admission of errors accompanied by a self-generated
improvement plan.



Be a consultant to, and partner with, your customers.


About the Author

L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute,
Yakima, Wash.

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