In the realm of customer service the important of product knowledge cannot be understated. Unless there is a complete and all-round understanding of the products and or services offered, it will be unlikely that you will be able to veer your customer’s decision towards buying or even considering your offerings. Product knowledge will make your customer service team sound confident, competent and efficient. Their conviction in the company’s offering will be reflected when they interact with the customer leading to higher possibility of a sale and customer satisfaction. Knowing all there is to know about the offerings of the company will make it easier to recommend it the customer and also provide customized solutions based on their needs.
Product knowledge is one of the key responsibility areas for the customer service teams. It is the aptitude for understanding the company’s offerings thereby enhancing the prowess of the customer service role. We would go as far as saying that all employees must have a basic understanding of their company’s product or service but the customer service team along with the other front end teams must have thorough product knowledge. The more you know, the better you get at delivering customer service excellence.
“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” – Kevin Stirtz
It is a given that customer service staff must be skilled – having product knowledge is one such mandatory skill. Knowledgeable staff members are naturally enthusiastic and as humans we are more easily convinced by happiness and enthusiasm. Customers are happier to interact with staff that is passionate and eager to divulge details about the products or services and how these will benefit the business of the customer. This passion is a positive reflection on the company as a whole allowing customers to trust the company with an investment. It is for this reason that companies and their leaders have become famous and enjoy the trust of their customers.
“We will ensure that associates continue to possess unsurpassed product knowledge and maintain their dedication to customer service and respect for their colleagues and for the communities in which they work and live.” – Arthur Blank
The main aim of customer service is to make every customer experience memorable and positive. Great customer service builds and enhances the customer’s relationship with the company. Superlative customer service comes from the staff that has a positive attitude, empathetic outlook and politeness all strengthened by knowing exactly what their company does and has to offer. Remaining updated on all the aspects of the product or service will allow you to answer most of the inquiries at the first instance. Product knowledge will help you to refrain from using jargon and assist in explaining to the customer as lucidly and coherently as possible. The customers are relying on you to understand the product or service and would appreciate every little amount of help you can offer. Be honest and upright and don’t hesitate to admit that you don’t know something, which may happen if the product is extremely technical. Tell them that you will find out and revert or get a subject matter expert to respond. Make sure either of these things happens within the time frame provided. Your customers will thank you and respect you more. Customers don’t expect you to be an authority on everything, they only need to know that you value them and care enough to resolve their problems. Product knowledge is an asset and will allow your company to forge ahead of competition.
Gaining and upgrading knowledge of the product may not be easy for the non-sales customer service staff. Time and training must be afforded if your customer service staff is to competently field any product or service related queries.
– By applying previous knowledge or personal experience of a product or service
– Read the material available such as brochures, promotional communication and catalogues
– Attend training conducted by the internal sales teams
– Looking up information available on various media on the products or service offered
These are just some of the ways to gain product knowledge for use to service your customers with a high level of expertise. Explore the other possibilities and methods of gaining product knowledge to be utilized in customer service. When you know well the offering of your company, it would be effortless to present the features as being immensely vital and useful to the customer. When you know – what the product does or can’t do, its USP, its competency as compared to a competitors offering, benefits gained by other customers by using your product or service and the advantages for the customer’s business – you would be displaying product knowledge. These may be just the very basics of product knowledge, but go a long way in engaging a customer long enough to get them interested in your product or service. Displaying lack of knowledge just makes the customer feel that the company as a whole is incompetent and he or she is dealing with blockheads. You can be sure your customer or a prospective one will run away. Fast. Customers are now smarter than before and will easily see through the sham of trying to fake knowledge and will not hesitate to tell you so. With loads of information now available at the click of a button, customers are better informed, more sophisticated and more discerning. Don’t even think of fooling them with a pretence.
Product knowledge will even help in raising the level of customer service currently provided by your company. Equipped with product knowledge, customer service staff will see a perceptible rise in:
1. Communication abilities – when you understand a subject and have an in-depth knowledge of it, you will be able to convey that knowledge to anyone. Irrespective of language command and the kind of customer, the passion and enthusiasm for the offering would be apparent and serve to influence the person listening
2. Excitement amongst buying circles for the offering. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to buy after hearing happy and passionate knowledge display? Any initial doubts about the product are sure to be wiped out from the mind of the customer. Enthusiasm is infectious – pass it on to your customer through product knowledge.
3. Develops confidence in the company and its offerings. A confident front end team will seal the deal and easily overcome the first obstacle of a customer’s initial apprehension.
4. Allow you to skilfully allay any doubts a customer may have. Customers will continue to probe and ask pointed questions on the product or service, which can be answered immediately and to their complete satisfaction only with superior product knowledge. Being able to articulate clearly the benefits and high points of the offering will serve to satisfy the customer.
Gaining product knowledge is time and energy well-spent and plays an indispensable role in making the customer service staff great at what they do. The training and knowledge requirement for front ending staff is different from your other staff members. They need specialized training to deal with all kinds of customers and their varied questions. Managing the dissemination of product knowledge and other skills must be a key deliverable for the supervisory and manager level staff members.
We have learnt from our experiences that good attitude, people skills, communication skills and product knowledge work in conjunction. Mastering all of these provide your customer service staff with the necessary tools to ensure customer satisfaction. They also serve to enhance the company’s reputation, increase sales, reduce complaints and issues and provide growth stability to the company.
“There is a problem when you think there is a contradiction between sales and service, when they are inextricably linked. The fact is, if you are consistently making money, it is almost always a sure sign that you are adding value to the other person, to the buyer.” – Spencer Johnson & Larry Wilson