We all know what it is like to receive great customer service from companies such as Costco, Apple, and Starbucks. Providing it can be a bit more challenging. At A Place for Mom, the premier senior living referral service in the U.S. and Canada, we talk to more than 200,000 families each year and help more than 20,000 senior living providers. Delivering exceptional service to seniors, families and our senior living partners is a key pillar of our company values. As a member of A Place for Mom’s Customer Experience Team, I’ve found a handful of skills vital in order to deliver an excellent level of customer service.
1. Become an Expert
Almost all of the problems I deal with day-to-day are actually the same problem over and over. Someone may not know how to make use of our webpage, have questions about how partner with our company, or they might have questions about the contract. When any problem arises I will take the time to find out how often this issue arises and how best to resolve it efficiently. This way the next time a client asks about the same or similar issues I will be already prepared to solve their problem as quickly and concisely as possible.
2. Know the Language of Your Customer
In an age of digital communication details can easily be lost in translation; always try to ensure you are communicating needs and expectations clearly so there is no misunderstanding. In my current role I work with partners who have wildly different computer skill levels and vocabulary. Since most of our business is done online it is important for me to know several ways of describing what could be causing a customer’s problem; if the client is having trouble understanding, try changing your phrasing and repeat, even if it can sometimes feel somewhat repetitive and redundant.
3. Be Proactive
Customers may not always be aware of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes at a company to keep things running smoothly. When a customer calls with an issue I strive to carefully inspect their profile to see if anything else needs updating or correcting. Oftentimes the partner won’t be aware of a resource that can surely help their business and taking the time to educate them is a sure way to impress; by doing more for the customer than they expected I make sure that they leave the call feeling extra satisfied.
4. Follow the Problem From Start to Finish
Despite our best efforts not all problems can be solved in one phone call; work to make sure you stay on top of issues to help it get resolved expediently. Attentiveness will keep the customer coming back again and again for support, which is ultimately a good thing. One of my favorite customers asks for help once a month and it is easier to assist her because we communicate so often.
5. Practice Patience and Empathy
As always, patience is a virtue. Some customers may have been dealing with an issue for a long time and need to vent some frustration before they can let you help them. Some customers have none of the information at all and need the entire process explained. It can be stressful waiting for a customer to catch up when you know exactly what they need and how to help. I have found that sometimes what a customer needs most is time; It may take a while to absorb, but taking the time to understand your customers will help you provide the best customer service to your residents and their families.
In collaboration with our partner communities, we treat all families and seniors with care, dignity and respect, and empower them with the knowledge and support they need to make informed decisions. Using the skills I’ve shared will help you hone your customer service skills and connect with more families.
What characteristics do you find are important to providing great customer service? Share in the comments below!