Any person who conducts business with customers on the phone or in person plays a vital role in their organization. Each interaction with a customer is an opportunity to earn brand loyalty and create life-long customer connections. All customer-facing team members should be empowered by learning the critical skills necessary to create Business Friendly relationships.
Our Tone Matters!
Hopefully, all of your employees are equipped with the necessary information to answer customer questions and solve common problems. However, beyond the content of what you’re saying to a customer, the way you say it and how you interact with them makes a difference. In order to maintain their idea of professionalism, many employees may err on the side of being overly formal. This might look like the employee is ignoring the customer’s attempts at jokes or small talk, being short or cold in an effort to keep the transaction ‘on track’ and offering the bare minimum level of service.
Obviously, this can come across as rude and uncaring. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the overly friendly and overly familiar employee. This employee might get off track with the transaction due to unrelated conversation or may act too familiar and informal with the customer. While friendly, relaxed, and at times humorous, this type of behavior can easily veer into inappropriate territory.
Both of these scenarios can be equally off-putting. Learning to find the balance between the two is difficult but, with the right skills, certainly not impossible. And, given that 73% of customers reported to Harris Interactive that friendly customer service representatives made interactions more enjoyable and encouraged their brand loyalty, learning this balance is necessary for the success of your organization! A report from Microsoft echoes this sentiment, with around one in three respondents stating that a friendly representative is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience.
What is Business Friendly Customer Service?
Business Friendly is defined as the middle ground between being too cold and impersonal and the other extreme of being too familiar. Learning this delicate balance will enable employees to deliver service that makes customers feel valued and heard while maintaining the professionalism that is expected in customer service situations. Many customer-facing employees in organizations do not understand that it’s very possible to be both business-like and friendly.
In place of a stern, traditionally business-like demeanor, customers would prefer that service representatives are genuine and enthusiastic. This looks like:
- Smiling throughout the interaction – even when on the phone
- Employing an Attitude for Service
- Demonstrating that they care about resolving the customer’s problem
Being Business Friendly becomes especially important when thinking about the repetitive nature of some customer service interactions. While your employees may be dealing with their twelfth customer that day calling with the same problem, the customer will be making the call for the first time and will have little patience for poor treatment because the employee is “desensitized” to the problem. In situations such as these, the customer will feel ignored and demeaned if their problem is handled in an overly formal, scripted manner. Each customer wants to feel as if they’re the first person that the service representative has spoken to that day. A Business Friendly approach includes treating each customer as an individual with unique needs.
Unprofessional Service Techniques to Avoid
Business Friendly Service is the gold standard, but it’s unfortunately not the most common approach to customer service out there. That means there are numerous inappropriate and unprofessional behaviors regularly being used by service representatives in customer interactions every day.
These unprofessional techniques include:
- Pointing out customer errors
- Ignoring off-topic customer conversation
- Forgetting to smile while speaking to customers on the phone
In fact, one of the best ways to be Business Friendly is to smile when speaking to a customer. Though it sounds overly simplistic, if there’s no smile on your face, there also won’t be a smile in your voice. Customers can hear your smile through the phone. This one small change in the tone of your voice conveys to the customer that you’re genuinely happy to be speaking with them, even if they can’t actually see you, and is a low-effort way to make a big impact.
To learn the critical elements of effective communication that must be actively managed to ensure courtesy in business as well as the rest of the inappropriate techniques remedied by the Business Friendly approach, contact a Service Skills representative and request a free demo. Interested in learning more customer service skills and techniques? Check out some of our recent posts!