Great customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business or professional interaction. Creating a satisfying, enjoyable experience for a customer is often the difference between success and failure. While great customer service is easy to spot, it is much harder to work as a professional.

As a teenager who started my first retail job, I quickly received a crash course in basic customer service skills. My employer showed me some videos about customer interactions and more. Much of the knowledge I gained about customer service came from first-hand experience with customers. When I started my first post college job, I found myself taking advantage of many of the skills I had previously developed, as well as a few additional tactics specifically tailored to my position.

Many new professionals may not have had experience with customer service in a previous position. The absence of a basic understanding of good customer service can be detrimental to an individual’s career in any profession. Simply understanding some basic principles can help a new professional ensure that customers leave interactions satisfied and happy.

The first step to good customer service is to give a personal introduction. Your name and how you can help are crucial to setting the tone for the conversation. It also helps to calm the customer down and make you more accessible. Go to any restaurant and watch a waiter deal with the guests. You always take the time to introduce yourself and make a friendly report with the customer. Although this step may seem insignificant, it is in fact the basis for any great interaction with customer service.

It is also important not to trivialize the customer’s problems. As a professional, I often receive questions that I have answered several times over the years, but I take care to treat each interaction as personally as possible. Although I have dealt with a similar problem with another customer, it is disadvantageous to assume that my current customer has exactly the same problem. Simply put, the problems are different and require personal attention. One way to ensure that you receive personal attention – even for the most common problems – is to listen actively. Allowing the customer to express his problem or concern without cutting him off, and repeating his problem to ensure clarification, are ways to ensure that you promote active listening and great customer service.

When interacting with customer service, it is important not to assume that the customer has a certain level of knowledge. When troubleshooting clients, it is important to start with the basics and work. I use a list of simple questions that I ask every customer who is dealing with a problem. Covering these basics – which can be as simple as reloading a website – ensures that all possible solutions are covered before moving on to more complex solutions.

Ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction is the goal of every customer service interaction. Going the extra mile to ensure that a problem is solved or a question answered can make a significant difference. At the beginning of my career, I often covered the basics and simply tried to solve the client’s problem, but over the course of my career I realized that it was important to ensure that the problem didn’t recur. Revealing the cause of the problem or providing the knowledge that the client is self-sufficient provides an additional level of service that makes all the difference in a professional interaction.

Unfortunately, there will be times when a customer’s problems cannot be solved over the phone or by visiting a store. In these cases, an escalated response may be required to solve the problem. Bridging a product, sending a technician or refunding are appropriate responses to more serious problems. In providing a more escalated solution, it is critical to provide a timeframe and guarantee a response.

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