Gone are the Mad Men days—and the customer service skills that went with it. As technology, marketing and sales evolve, so do customer service skillsets. Unfortunately, some of those old school skills would still serve us well today. For generations that don’t remember an era before smartphones (and store apps!), mobile payments or even credit cards, it can be difficult to fathom exactly how great customer service happened. How can you provide stellar service when you don’t have immediate access to customer profiles compliments of CRM software?
Businesses can and should train their customer service reps to abide by company standards. Those standard are up to you! Try bringing back some of the charm and personalization of older eras, and you’ll be surprised by how customers respond. Here are a few “lost” customer service skills due for a comeback:
- Remembering a customer’s name and preferences without the help of technology. Obviously this is dictated by the size of the business and customer base, but you know how special you feel when a barista or bartender knows your name and order? The same goes for any type of business. Encourage your sales reps to make an effort to remember names and orders/preferences, and reward the top performers.
- Wooing clients. This can’t be done with every business and client, but if it’s doable then it’s often well worth the effort. Taking the time to get to know clients one on one can work wonders for some businesses. This can be especially helpful to startups, and it’s always worthwhile to hone your schmoozing skills.
- Looking a person in the eye. Such an act can seem terrifying to younger generations. What do you look at when there’s no screen buffer? However, practicing good eye contact that’s not too long, not too short, and never with a screen as a distraction is a basic human skillset that will serve you well in all facets of your life.
- Active listening. Listening is hard work, and not something we’re born with. Actively listening and digesting information, not simply waiting for the person to finish talking so you can have your turn, is what builds relationships faster. If you want to really connect with your customers, practice active listening with your reps. A good activity is to ask them to partner up, sit side by side with eyes closed, and take turns (timed) simply talking with no response allowed beyond, “Thank you for sharing with me.”
- How to have a business relationship coffee date. Wooing clients with martinis and happy hour might not be deemed professional anymore (or feasible for all customer service reps!), but anyone can certainly go to coffee with a colleague or perhaps a B2B client. The art of conversation, social etiquette and simply being with one another is one that takes constant practice.
- Giving genuine compliments. Often, we give compliments because we want someone to like us. Consider something you truly appreciate about a customer, hopefully beyond the physical (i.e. “I love your new haircut!”) and tell them with authenticity. Everybody loves compliments, and genuine ones are hard to come by.
- Punctuality. Unfortunately, this really is a dying skillset. Always aim to arrive five minutes early (you can arrive earlier, but don’t “show up” until five minutes in advance—otherwise, that’s rude, too!). Leave the excuses behind and always assume there will be bad traffic or another obstacle.
Customer service really is about serving the customer. What does service mean to you? How can you embody it above and beyond the basic job description? For employers, hiring customer service reps with a true desire to serve your clients is step one. The next steps may require some extra training!