In today’s competitive atmosphere where customers have an extensive range of options, adhering to strict standards of professionalism just won’t cut it when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. Outdated business norms required that employees be formal and impersonal in the interest of increasing productivity and providing the same standard service to all. This is no longer true. In fact, this cold, impersonal approach is likely to cost you customers.
According to both RightNow and HubSpot, friendly customer service agents are the reason that 73% of customers feel loyal to specific brands. Similarly, Harris Interactive reported that for over two-thirds of customers, the friendliness of customer service representatives makes for a memorable experience that lasts beyond the initial interaction. Rather than being impressed with the speed or formality of the customer service agents, customers are drawn to feeling cared about and listened to. This distinction is one that seems obvious; however, hasn’t been taken on board by all companies just yet.
Concerningly, you may not know if your organization’s outdated standards of professional behavior are costing you business given that over 90% of customers who are unhappy with a company’s service will cease their use of the company without complaining or providing a reason, according to Kolsky. This means that organizations must be proactive in evaluating the service provided by their representatives and train their employees where necessary in the current best practice suggestions for customer service.
Adopt a Business Friendly approach
What is the alternative to traditional professionalism then? ServiceSkills recommends using the Business Friendly approach. This entails:
- Finding the middle ground between being cold and impersonal and overly familiar
- Adjusting your tone and attitude towards customers
- Balancing professionalism with friendliness and approachability
Finding this balance is easier said than done of course. When serving a customer, it might be easy to let friendliness slip into behavior or language that could cross the line into being inappropriate for the context. Luckily, using the three tips listed below can help you identify the middle ground that the Business Friendly approach calls for.
Use humor effectively
If you’ve worked in a more traditional business environment before, you might have heard that a sense of humor doesn’t have a place in customer service. Instead, you were likely encouraged to stick to only the facts being given by the customer in the interest of solving their problem efficiently. While it’s certainly important to meet the needs of the customer in a timely manner so you can move on to helping the next customer, humor, when used effectively, can absolutely have a place in a Business Friendly approach.
Prospects and customers are more likely to buy from people that they like. Humor can be used to build rapport with the customer and put them at ease. It must be used appropriately, however, as it’s possible to go too far. If the customer uses humor with you, reply back with gentle humor as ignoring their attempts to lighten the interaction could easily come across as rude. Additionally, keep in mind that it’s best to avoid any humor that could risk offending the customer.
Make it about them, not you
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who overused the word ‘I’? If so, you might have found this to be entirely irritating! Many customers do too. They haven’t contacted your organization to hear about you, so avoid the excessive use of ‘I’ whenever possible. Instead, make it about them – focus on what the customer needs and wants. This simple shift makes the customer feel heard and understood. It puts them at the center of the conversation, which is exactly where they should be!
Practice being positive
Part of being friendly is having a positive, uplifting outlook. This is particularly important when answering customer questions. Provide answers that are framed positively and delivered in an upbeat tone. Even if you’re having a bad day or things with the company aren’t as great as you’d like, the customer doesn’t need to know that information. All they need to know is that you can help solve their problem. So, stick to being positive and convey your eagerness to assist the customer.
Luckily for you, there are 23 other Basic Selling Skills that will help you master a Business Friendly approach and become an expert in customer service. To receive a free demo of these courses, contact a ServiceSkills representative today.
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