Dealing with Customers

Antonia Blankenberg
Note by , created over 1 year ago

Best Practice in Customer Service Note on Dealing with Customers, created by Antonia Blankenberg on 07/25/2017.

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Antonia Blankenberg
Created by Antonia Blankenberg over 1 year ago
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Page 1

Body Language

Body language is an important part of customer service. The body language we use decides to a large extent the quality of our communication and play an important part in making the customer feel welcome in the establishment.   It's important to have open body language when dealing with customers. This is done by removing barriers such as crossed arms and held objects, showing the customer that you are open to communication.   Standing with good posture also allows the customer to see you as an aid. Slumping in a chair or leaning against a wall while interacting with a customer are sure signs you are not interested in the them. Your pose or posture should express attention, friendliness, and openness. Lean forward, face the customer and nod to let them know you are interested.   Something that is often forgotten is eye contact. Keeping eye contact with the customer allows you to directly address them and show that you are interested in their questions.   A smile and polite conversation can immediately disarm a disgruntled customer. Your facial expression sets a positive tone before you even begin speaking. A relaxed or pleasant facial expression is the ideal most of the time.   Remember to leave adequate space between you and the customer. Invading their personal space can make them feel threatened and uncomfortable.   If you are using hand gestures when speaking, ensure that they are not offensive to people from other cultures. If you are not sure, don't use them.    Personal grooming has a big impact on your customers. Dirty hands, messy hair and poor dress can mean the loss of an otherwise happy customer. When interacting with customers, ensure that your uniform/outfit is clean and tidy.

Page 2

Greeting Customers

It's extremely important to make a customer feel welcome in the establishment. Make sure to greet them with a friendly introduction and ask if they need any assistance.   Though it's simple, saying "please" and "thank you" to a customer can make a huge difference.   Speaking clearly and loudly is important, especially if a customer has trouble hearing.    The correct use of verbal communication when dealing with customers is essential. Always convey friendliness and amicability in your tone of voice. Don't raise your voice in frustration or anger no matter how difficult or tiresome a customer may behave.   Make sure to show empathy towards the customer's needs. If a customer feels that they are unwanted or misunderstood, they may leave upset.    Show enthusiasm in the workplace. When the customer sees, feels and hears your enthusiasm, they'll be much more likely to return.

Page 3

Active Listening and Questioning

Active listening is a way of fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ what is said. This method of listening is often used in counseling because it ensures that what is being communicated is fully understood. Active listening also means you can solve a customers problem quicker, resulting in a high level of customer satisfaction.   There are a few traits of active listening that can be used in customer service:   After a customer talks about an issue, it can help to recite back the key points of what they're saying to ensure that you've understood them. This can be done through direct repetition or paraphrasing. For example: "If I understood you correctly, you (restate what you believe the customer said), is this correct?".   Avoid distractions when you're talking to a customer. At this particular moment in time, regard the customer as the most important thing to you. This makes them feel welcome and allows you to focus on the issue at hand.    Don't interrupt the customer. People like to talk and don't like to be cut off. Once customers exhibit a willingness to talk, you should focus on the information they want to provide rather than trying to interject your own opinions.   When asking a customer a question, try to avoid closed questions (questions that only have a yes or no answer). Instead, ask open questions, giving the customer a chance to communicate what they need. For example, instead of asking “can I help you with anything?”, ask "what in particular are you looking for that I can help you with?".   Don't just listen to the customer's words. Also focus on the tone of voice, inflection and body language. These can be as telling as the words themselves, because they reveal how the customer feels.   Automatic reflection/mirroring of any facial expressions used by the speaker can be a sign of attentive listening.  These reflective expressions can help to show empathy. 

Page 4

Dealing with Customers with Additional Needs

Persons using mobility aids or with mobility impairments: When walking with persons who use crutches, bracers, canes or just walk slowly, adjust your pace to theirs. Enable people who use crutches or canes to keep them within reach. Offer assistance in a dignified manner with sensitivity and respect.   Wheelchair users: When speaking to a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, sit in a chair and place yourself at that person's eye level to facilitate conversation. When talking to a person who uses a wheelchair, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion who may be along. If you don't know how to handle the wheelchair, ask the user and follow instructions. Be aware that some wheelchair users may choose to transfer themselves out of their wheelchairs (do not move the wheelchair out of reaching distance).   People with speech impairments: Don't be embarrassed when a person who has speech impairment addresses to you and give your whole attention with interest. Do not pretend to understand if you do not. You may want to ask short questions that require short answers or a nod of the head. Stifle any urge to complete a sentence for the customer.   Blind/ Visually impaired persons: When greeting a person with visual impairment always identify yourself and introduce anyone else who might be present. (Should the person not extend his/her hand to shake hands, verbally extend a welcome) When offering assistance (to sit, for instance) allow the person with visual impairment to take your arm (at or about the elbow.) This will enable you to guide rather than propel or lead the person. Giving a verbal cue is always helpful, let the person know when you need to end the conversation. Guide dogs are highly trained and should never be pet, fed, talked to or called without the permission from the owner.   Deaf or hearing impaired persons: When talking to a deaf or hearing impaired person speak clearly, naturally and at a normal pace. Only raise your voice when requested. If the person uses a hearing aid, try to speak in an area with few competing sounds. Attract the customer’s attention before speaking. The best way is a gentle touch on the shoulder or gently waving your hand. Speak directly to your customer as you normally would, not the person who may accompany them. Place yourself facing the light source and keep your hands away from your mouth when speaking. Brief, concise written notes may be helpful if all else fails.   People with understanding/ Learning impairments: Be natural and speak clearly. Do not use complex sentences. Be supportive and friendly. Answer all questions making sure that you are being understood. Treat adults in a manner befitting adults (treat mentally/learning impairments adults as adults, not children) Don't provide assistance further than needed/required.   Persons with other impairments: There are numerous impairments that do not fall under the general categories, many of them are not immediately perceived or might be hard to be realized, as chemical sensitivity, allergies that can occur from exposure to the sun, through the air, food or water. The best sources of information about their needs are the customers themselves.

Page 5

Things to Avoid

Making the customer wait for long periods of time to talk to you   Speaking loudly or condescendingly to customers or colleagues   Making faces, frowning, acting distant, not smiling   Focusing on another task while addressing or servicing a customer   Giving negative or short responses to customers (see table below)