In our contemporary business environment customers are the principal asset of any organization and managing customer services and relation is very important. The general success of many organizations is linked to customer satisfaction and relationship management. The customer service and relation model used depends on the customer requirements, expectation and relations with the business and its services. Customer satisfaction is basically related to customer relationship management. Customer Relationship management is very significant since it helps the organization to identify the perception of the consumers in relation to the organization and its perceived performance and level of customer satisfaction (Parvatiyar, 2001, p. 30-31 Wilson, 2002, p. 335).
Customer care falls under Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which is a universally accepted model that includes collection, analysis and translation of essential customer information for the purpose of decision making. Brown (2000) defines customer relationship management as a marketing approach geared towards creating and developing strong and long-lasting relationship between the customer and the organization. He asserts that customer relationship management is mainly concerned with creating, developing and enhancing individual customer relationships with the targeted consumers and consumer groups leading to the maximization of the consumer life-time value (Brown, 2000, p. 5).
Excellent customer service focuses on providing customers with the opportunity to articulate their wish or dissatisfaction, and doing everything to make sure that the customers’ needs/ desires are met. Excellent customer service is not just being hospitable/ customer friendly, it has a wider angle. Currently, many organizations have learned basic customer service skills such as replying to customer calls promptly, faster response to customer queries, recording transactions and requesting for feedbacks among others. However, customer service skills are unique to different organizations (Chung-Hoon, 2003, p. 663).
Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication Skills
Since Fatema already has an established relationship with a competitor and has a weak relationship with your organization, to get off to a solid start during your visit necessitate customer service skills. Customer service skills include verbal communication, non-verbal communication, listening, and customer service and behavior. First, you have to understand the significance of effective communication in customer service by keeping in mind the elements of effective interpersonal communication. During verbal communication, shun language that could hurt your relationship with the customer and maintaining professional customer service image. Provide effective feedback and apply assertive techniques of communication to improve your service. Assertiveness refers to being in control and responding effectively to the customer; it does not mean aggressiveness (Lipka, 2006, p. 95-96; Lucas, 2012, p. 5).
A two-way interpersonal communication model involves the sender, recipient, environment, message to be passed across and the channel of communication. Communication process entails encoding, decoding, feedback, filtering information and avoiding disturbances or noise. When conversing with Fatema, you have to keep in mind the above elements of effective communication. Carefully chose your words by using universal terms and simple words so as to avoid negative communication. Before starting a conversation, prepare your message and focus all your attention on the customer. Be very friendly when making acquaintance and use client focused language. Make the customer feel at home and listen to him very carefully and respond properly. Try to be as precise as possible, but small talks are allowed. If there is any form of conflict, respond appropriately and try to recover a relationship after the conflict. Last but not the least, close your conversation professionally (Lucas, 2012, p. 6-7).
Non-verbal communication skills are like musical accompaniments. They complement the verbal communication. It involves use of body language, eye contact, excellent posture and facial expressions. Non-verbal communication speaks for itself without uttering a word. They include nodding you head, gestures, tonal variations, your appearance and grooming. Use them during the conversation with Fatema. Avoid nervous habits and mannerisms. Mannerisms refers to funny gestures such as crossing arms, holding your hand near your mouth, fidgeting too much, handshakes, raising eye brows among others. You can enhance your non-verbal communication by seeking out cues, asking for clarification, analyzing your understanding of non-verbal cues, and verifying your perception among others (Parvatiyar, 2001, p. 33; Lucas, 2012, p. 8).
Listening Skills in Customer Service
Listening skills is another component of excellent customer service. Qualities of a good listener include compassion, understanding, tolerance, paying attention, and impartiality. These elements should be taken into consideration during the conversation with Fatema. You should avoid biasness, psychological distractions, circadian rhythm and unhealthy physical conditions which can cause listening breakdown. There are other obstacles to listening which take place at individual level which you must also be considered during the conversation. These include preoccupation, inability to hear properly, degree of listening, speed of understanding, and making faulty assumptions. You can improve your listening skills by sending positive non-verbal cues, taking notes, avoiding arguments, listening for concepts, exhibiting willingness to listen, asking questions among other ways (Lipka, 2006, p. 99; Lucas, 2012, p. 8).
Customer Service & Behavior
Another component of excellent customer service skills is customer service and behavior. There are four behavioral styles that play a very significant role in customer service. These are rationality, inquisitiveness, decisiveness and expression. You should develop a strategy for conversing effectively with the above behavioral styles. In addition, respond to the customer queries while at the same time building a relationship. The practice of building a strong relationship with the customer entails discovering the needs of the customer, accepting customers request, looking for service opportunities and emphasizing on enhancing the process. Building strong relationship with the customer also involve making the customer to feel special, being aware of his/her culture, and understanding the customers needs or requirements (Lucas, 2012, p. 10).
Tackling Customer Perception
Customer service also encompasses awareness of the customers’ perception of the organization and doing everything possible to avert the negativities. There are numerous factors that affect the perception of the customers, such as physical qualities, societal behaviors, affiliation to certain groups, and stereotypes. During the conversation ask Fatema of what he/she and others thinks of the company and its services in relation to its competitors. Note down the positive and negative aspect of the company and its services and assure the customer of the company’s response. The response is saved in the company’s data base among other responses, analyzed and appropriate steps are taken to avert the negativity and improve the image of the organization and its services (Lucas, 2012, p. 11-12).
Customer service entails expression of internal value more than just analyzing papers. There are many things which an organization can embrace to foster an atmosphere where employees are given power to act in order to satisfy customers. Customer service excellence is neither an accident nor an exception. It involves strategies, commitment and support from all the division in the organization. Customer service includes verbal communication, non-verbal communication, listening, and customer service and behavior. Customer service helps in building a long term relationship with the customers and improving the organizational image and service delivery.
Brown, S.A. (2000). Customer Relationship Management: A Strategic Imperative in the World of E-business. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Chung-Hoon, P. (2003). A framework of dynamic CRM: linking marketing with information strategy. Business Process Management Journal, 9 (5), 652 – 671.
Lipka, S.E. (2006). Handbook of business strategy: Twelve steps to CRM without eating an elephant. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 95–100.
Lucas, R.W. (2012). Customer Service Skills for Success (5th Ed). New York: McGraw-Hill publisher.
Parvatiyar, A. (2001). Customer Relationship Management: Emerging Practice, Process, and Discipline. Journal of Economics & Social Research, 3(2), 30- 34.
Wilson, D. (2002). An Integrated Model of Buyer-Seller relationship. Journal of Academy of Marketing science, 3, 335–345.