There's a big difference between hearing a customer and listening to them. It's not enough for businesses to rattle off answers to consumers. A better relationship will be built when representatives are able to listen, take in information and provide a thoughtful response.
With technology changing each day, offering individuals multiple options to reach out to a company – online customer services have grown in popularity – it's crucial for organizations to ensure that their contact with shoppers remains professional and helpful.
Judith Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications, wrote a Harvard Business Review piece describing her experience in helping a company develop their customer service skills. According to Glaser, she was hired to help sales executives beat out seven other competitors for a key contract.
The major issue was that the employees used what Glaser called "telling statements" 85 percent of the time, which left just 15 percent for questions. However, the sales team thought that they were conducting good, productive conversations. With a little guidance, Glaser said they were able to turn around the discussion.
"They started asking discovery questions and paying close attention to their customers' answers, which expanded their frame of reference and gave them new insights into needs and opportunities," Glaser wrote. "In so doing, the executives presented themselves as conversationally intelligent partners, not sales people. They won the contract."
Businesses can benefit in much the same way. Open communication skills that Glaser encouraged in her sales team will create a better relationship between companies and their customers. While machines and recorded help options can detract from this, an answering service will bring back the human aspect.
In addition to voice mail messaging, partnering with a third-party company will offer consumers the ability to use email or text messaging services. That way, at any time of day, individuals can have their questions answered in a helpful and professional manner.