“To launch a business means successfully solving problems. Solving problems means listening.”– Sir Richard Branson
Customers may come to you after hearing ‘good things’ about you but they will only remain with you when they actually experience them. To grow your business you need a consistent set of loyal and profitable customers and for loyal customers your company must be there for them consistently and be adept at problem solving. A good part of customer service is being able to solve your customer’s problems effectively and speedily. It starts with getting on board your customer service team – an efficient and empathetic set of people who are able to see a problem and do whatever it takes to resolve it. So how do make sure that your customer service team will be adept at problem solving?
- When you know your customers, you will instinctively know how and through which channel they would like to be served. Don’t make assumptions based on prior knowledge or data. Go with the current trends and carefully select your customer service teams. There is no point hiring someone with a great voice to answer email requests and similarly it would be unwise to hire someone who has poor conversational skills to answer the phone or manage online chats. Ensure that you choose the appropriate skills and personality types to service the customer through varied channels. However whichever channel the customer service agent is put on the one common trait should be enthusiasm and a feeling of belongingness to the company and its brand. They should be able to convey the brand’s identity through their demeanour. The people you hire must support your brand and make it look good. The other common trait would be a desire to help making them naturally adept at problem solving.
- If you want the ‘right fits’ for the job, ensure that the job description and candidate profile is clearly and unambiguously stated upfront. If you are not clear about the job requirements you will land up with the wrong applicants and miss out on the ones that would fit the actual job perfectly. Also being transparent and honest even about the challenges and pressures of the job will get you honest and disciplined people, who will come on-board with respect and trust for your company. When describing the challenges in the job during the interview, you would be able to assess how a certain candidate would handle the situation, and the right answers will get you the most appropriate candidates for the position. One of the most obvious challenges of customer service is being able to solve issues and so if you wish to recruit a customer service team adept at problem solving, start by hiring the right persons by clearly stating what the job entails.
- Many candidates lie about a number of things on their resume, just to ‘look’ good. So while checking out the resume you could assess the candidate’s accuracy skills by an error free resume. However, whether or not they are adept at problem solving or speaking articulately is not something that can be made out from the resume. While the contents of the resume may be the primary reason for shortlisting a candidate for an interview, it should not be the decider.
- Proper technique and pertinent questions can give the recruiter a fair idea of whether the candidate has a passionate, courteous and empathetic disposition. Would they be able to handle irritated and angry customers in a cool and composed manner? What are their reasons to work in customer service – a desire to help and assist or use their skills or problem solving or because they have no other job options? For example someone who actively engages with social activities and volunteers for charity events would be kind of person best suited for customer service and would also be adept at problem solving. When you pose questions and challenges to the candidates, they may not always give a standard ‘right’ answer but their overall attitude and attempt at answering the question would normally suffice to let the recruiter know that they are right for the job.
- Hiring people for this critical function must never be done in a hurry. Take your time to formulate leading and open-ended questions, the right answers to which will get you the right kind of candidates. Having the right people on your customer service team will ensure that your company succeeds with its customers over a long period of time. The right people will form a team that will not only respond effectively to queries but also be adept at problem solving for customers – a very crucial part of customer service.
- If you have a customer service team adept at problem solving and query responses, they would be able to manage customers via any channel. Teams in customer service must be a combination of people who would be great at problem resolution while others are great at putting those solutions across through either written or verbal communication. As long as the customer sees one united front and their problems are being solved, your company will continue to remain as a preferred business partner.
- Being adept at problem solving does not imply that the all the customer’s problems must be sorted out the moment they blurt it out. It means knowing how much time a potential problem will require to be resolved and letting your customer know about the expected resolution time. Being adept at problem solving means recognizing the nature and urgency of the problem and approaching its resolution with appropriate speed and efficiency. Under all circumstances, keep your customer informed of what is being done about the problem.
- Remember to have a process in place that monitors the kinds of problems raised, the time taken to respond, time taken to resolve and the kind of resolution provided. Also keep tabs on whether the problem arose again either with the same customer or a different one and work towards completely eliminating the cause of the problem. Reports reveal that when a customer’s problem is resolved in an efficient manner, they are more likely to be loyal and provide more business than if the problem had never occurred. Make your customer service team adept at problem solving to build and enhance your loyal customer base.
- Problem solving alone does not suffice. Keeping a record of the problems occurred, the resolutions provided, the techniques used and the questions the customer asked all prove to be useful data for future training purposes and also identifying root causes. Tracking data so also helps to identify any common problems and trends for which suitable action can be taken. This data proves immensely beneficial for new recruits during the on-boarding and induction process.
To be known as a company adept at problem solving, you should ‘be there’ for customers even after the problem has been resolved. Customers tend to get very cranky, for good reason, when they encounter a problem. Sometimes a problem caused by your company’s products could cause them a great deal of inconvenience and may be even losses in their own business. Be there for the customer even after you may have provided the solution to ensure that the problem does not reoccur or give rise to a fresh problem. Provide them with additional information so that they can pro-actively anticipate problems and save themselves from any more issues. Consistently provide updates and fresh information on your website and social media sites. Keep the troubleshooting documents current and equip your customer service staff with current technology and all the information they need to be adept at problem solving and putting customers are ease.
When you have a great customer service team adept at problem solving, your reputation as a dependable company spreads leading to more business. Being able to handle the heightened negative emotional states of customers is not an easy task but doing so effectively has rich and abundant rewards. Make your representatives and your company the solace and respite that customers seek in a crazy and frenzied business world and you can be sure that your efforts will not go unnoticed either by your current customers or prospective ones.