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Customer Service Is Not A Department....It's An Attitude

By Cynthia Grosso

In today�s competitive business world your company�s ability to earn repeat business may be directly related to the customer service it provides and directly proportional to  income potential. Customer service involves Everyone from receptionists, secretaries and  sales staff to middle management and up to the top-level executive.

This is because customer service it is not a department - it�s an attitude. The more successful your staff and the better their attitude, the more successful your business. Statistics suggests that your company is 87% people skills and only 13% product. Lack of training in this area is a critical mistake, as it is a key component in any successful business strategy.

The first impression of your company can often make or break the sale. Most customers� initial contact with your business doesn�t involve speaking to an executive or sales person.  Therefore, your frontline people should be taught the social skills of answering the phone correctly, knowing how to greet customers/clients and how to shake someone�s hand correctly.  Details as seemingly insignificant as using the customer�s name or simply knowing the proper way to address him or her are vital.

Today, successful businesspeople are not measured by merely academics or achievement. There is a new scale focusing on people skills, which is to a large extent learned behavior. People skills include the lost art of listening, social graces, presentation skills and relationship building. Current training movements are returning to these basics by emphasizing manners and communication skills.

Why is this important? Lack of manners, for instance, can come across as a lack of respect for others � a real turn off for business.

But customer service training is not limited to the basics. It�s also vital in handling difficult situations or customers, which can often turn a negative experience into positive word-of-mouth advertising.  Some suggestions on handling difficult customers include letting the customer speak, taking notes and recapping the main points with them and then following up with a letter of apology - if needed � stating the changes that have been made.

But many negative situations can be avoided if you teach your employees to go the extra mile. In addition, recognize people for work well done. But most important, set the example�customer service starts at the top, with you.

A number of training options are available if you think your company needs help in this area. Many consulting companies offer customer service training, as do some schools.  Trident Technical College will be offering a customer service etiquette training course this fall.

Cindy Grosso is a corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant who offers corporate programs on a group or individual basis. She is based in Charleston.

Source: Article published in The Charleston Business Regional Journal

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