The customer may not always be right, but they're always the customer!

That simple statement transformed yours truly from an "Oh it's MY problem because YOU'RE upset" kind of guy to a "Wow! I'm so terribly sorry we didn't perform as expected! Please allow me to make it right for you" one. In short, for your long-term success, it's imperative your customers are extremely satisfied with your customer service skills.

Let's talk about some areas you can focus on today that will make you a customer service superstar!
Attitude Before my transformation I didn't exactly jump for joy when a customer wasn't thrilled with our service. As a matter of fact, to be quite honest, I thought customers were more of a pain in the (insert favorite word here) than a pleasure. As a result, I had a stinky attitude and my poor team was inhaling the vapors!
Leadership I knew I had to kick my leadership skills up a notch for this one. So, I rallied my troops and got them to support the idea of sending out an anonymous survey to our customers ranking us on our performance.
Customer Service Survey & Buy-In After you've received the survey, gather the team around for a "green light" brainstorming session. If you're not familiar, these are "everything goes" as far as creative ideas are concerned. VERY IMPORTANT: NO ONE is to critique during this session! Ask for volunteers to drive the initiatives they like best.
The Apology
"I'm sorry"
"It was my fault"
"How can I make things right?"
The trouble is most of us never think of #3 do we? I have to share with you when I started asking "How can I make things right", my customer service ratings started to soar!

Communication The most important part of customer service is communicating effectively. Whether it's in person, over the phone, or especially over email, you should be really investing everything you have into the process.
Talking Rather than just babbling for the sake of getting something out, take time to carefully consider your word choices. For example:

"You're wrong" versus "I see your point and may I offer an alternative?"
"Why are you so mad?" versus "I completely understand and would feel the same if I were in your shoes"

Listening When your customers are talking to you, it's imperative you actively listen. Then, and most importantly, paraphrase back to them what you understood. If you missed something, you'll find out about it now versus later when it's too late.
Body Language Body language alone accounts for about 85% of all the communication that takes place. So, if you're saying "Yes, I understand we made a mistake" but your body language says "You're really getting under my skin right now" you've got a communication disconnect.

And lastly, always, and I mean always, thank your customers for their business! Without it, who needs you?

All my best,

Christopher Rausch
Don't miss Christopher's expanded article on this topic in the July/August issue of Mailing Systems Technology!