Providing Quality Customer Service

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1 Providing Quality Customer Service What is Customer Service? For all school district employees to provide the best customer service possible, we must first understand customer service. There are many acceptable definitions, but the one key phrase is satisfy customer needs. Quality Customer Service, as defined by Lloyd C. Finch, is: Quality Customer Service satisfies customer needs, real or perceived, in a consistent and dependable manner. This is very important; it s not your perception of how good the service is that counts, it s the customer s perception. Customer Service that we as employees provide our customers is simply about doing our job by providing great customer service in a professional, courteous and friendly way. It s all about employees being team players within our schools and departments that include respect for our work environment, our customers and ourselves. Let s find out how your customer service skills rate by answering the following questions 1. Who are your everyday customers? 2. How do you answer the phone? 3. Do you have a consistent customer friendly greeting? 4. Are you smiling before you pick up the phone? 5. How long do you keep a customer on hold? 6. Do you do your best not to transfer a call unnecessarily? 7. Do you announce the caller when you transfer? 8. Do you own the customer and do your best to provide the information they are requesting? 9. How prompt are you to acknowledge a customer entering your office? 10. Do we make people feel welcome when they visit your office? 11. What parts of my body keep communicating even when I m quiet? 12. How hard do you work to present a good image of our district? 13. How trained are you to deal with people having concerns about your school, department or the District? 14. How do you make your services visible and available to schools, departments and our customers? 15. Are employees considered customers?

2 Now take a few minutes and rate how you perceive yourself. In addition, give this to 2 4 other customers to rate your customer service performance. There is a possible score of 100 points, each item worth a total of 10 points. Ratings from 4 customers Standard (Total of 10 points possible for each standard listed below) Eye Contact/Pleasant tone of voice Friendly phone greeting Own the customer and provide them information/answer their questions immediately Indirect Communication (body language) Attitude Accessibility Ability to conceal frustration with a customer On bad days, you can still find ways to be positive. Ability to handle unreasonable complaints Provides consistent customer service, regardless of the customer. (parents, students, employees or community members.) My Rating #1 #2 #3 #4 Total Score (Possible Score: 100 points)

3 Tips to achieve Quality Customer Service 1. Have a great attitude You have little or no control over many things in life, but you do have control over one essential quality: your attitude. Employees who make an effort to have a positive and cheerful attitude typically reach many of their goals and usually are happier and more fulfilled. 2. What Customers are looking for: Friendliness Be polite and courteous to your customer; greet them with a smile both on the phone and in person. Fairness Treat everyone justly and impartially your customers are everyone parents, students, district employees, your boss, the community. Understanding Listen carefully to the customer and their questions without interrupting and ask questions for clarification if necessary. Information Own your customer; get the information for the customer instead of passing them around. 3. Professionalism Be courteous; give the customer your full attention; make them feel heard, understood, liked, respected, helped, appreciated and respected 4. Accuracy Be careful and complete 5. Responsiveness Be timely under promise and over deliver 6. Be a fantastic fixer Apologize, listen and empathize, fix the problem quickly and fairly, offer atonement, keep your promises and follow up. 7. Always use customer friendly words or phrases when talking to a customer on the phone or in person. This is what I can do Here s how I can help I ll find out I m sorry WHAT TO SAY I ll be with you shortly I ll call you back I ll try my best Can I put you on hold? No I don t know I m busy You want it when? NEVER SAY That s not my job Calm down Call me back Hold on a minute

4 Use this information when answering phone calls Answering Calls: Points to remember First impressions are established as soon as you greet your caller. This impression of you will carry over to the rest of the organization. The following chart will help you to realize how important your telephone conversation is: First Impressions FACE TO FACE CONTACT OVER THE TELEPHONE 7% comes from what s being said 13% comes from what is being said 38% tone of voice being used 87% tone of voice being used 55% body language used How you say things over the telephone is much more important than what you say. Here are a few things we all know but sometimes tend to forget: Keep a positive helpful attitude Be alert; concentrate on your callers and their needs, not yours. Sound natural and enthusiastic. Be confident, make callers feel at ease. Speak distinctly and expressively. Don t rush, especially when providing telephone numbers. Get necessary information before transferring a call. Listening is all important. Smile when you speak. It s hard to sound nasty with a smile on your face. Begin with a greeting Palm Beach County School District, name of school/department, your name and greeting (how may I help you) Avoid cutting off the customer in mid sentence because you think you know what they want. What are your priorities? Internal or external calls? Internal callers and external callers rely on you for correct information. Let s work on coaching internal callers into using sources available to them other than you. (Web site, online Phone Directory, Google search, etc.) Don t do other things while assisting the customer (eat, read the paper; carry on a conversation with your co worker). Identifying Calls Identify your company when you answer Palm Beach County School District, department/ school name, your name and greeting (how may I assist you?). Listen and identify the nature of the request.

5 Directing Calls Remember, one of the biggest complaints that callers have is being bounced around the organization. You play a big part here by taking ownership of the customer s request and answering their question(s) or directing them to the right person or department. Are you using your resources? (Web sites, online phone directory, Google search, etc.) Whenever possible, avoid putting a caller on hold, but if you need to, be sure the caller is able to hold. It is important to let your caller know that you are putting them on hold in order to obtain information. Before completing a transfer, give the caller the correct number, name and or department for future reference. If they have to call again, a step has been eliminated for everybody. Handling unhappy callers: Don t take the call personally; the caller is not upset with you he/she is upset with the situation. Remain calm. Stay impartial, don t become defensive. Speak softly, be patient, understanding and deal with feelings as you acknowledge the problem or concern. Acknowledge the situation and show concern. Improve your listening skills: Listen to the entire question or comment before responding. Interrupting people while talking is a BIG turnoff. Tuning people out in order to formulate your response results in confusion. Becoming emotional with the caller only results in bad feelings. Ask open ended questions (What Can I do to solve the problem?). Summarize to make sure you understand the problem. Provide a clear method for reaching a solution Do something extra to show that you care. Follow through Give reference to student handbook, or web site for additional information. You may need to walk the customer through the directions you provide. If all else fails you may have to say I will be glad to give your message to Mrs. XYZ, at which time you repeat a condensed version to the caller to verify that you have written the correct information. Consult with your supervisor. POSITIVE/NEGATIVE WORD CHOICES: Words that damage: I can t do that It s not my job You have to. You neglected to You must What s your problem? I ll try I don t know Positive Word Choices: Will you I can when you Here are our options How can I help you? What can I do for you?

6 Which would you prefer? Although I m unable to answer that question, I ll be happy to find out for you. LISTENING SKILLS ARE LEARNED, LIKE READING: Listening and identifying caller s needs effectively, using agreement listening and paraphrasing to verify details. Barriers to Listening: Reacting too strongly Judging the speaker Refusing to consider new ideas Day Dreaming Faking Attention Benefits to Effective Listening Effective listeners are able to concentrate and find the most valid information in whatever they hear. You will enjoy others and they will enjoy you. Care for your callers by using the six friendly replies: Acknowledging caller on the telephone and replying in their question. Appreciating caller by saying things like: I appreciate your patience. Assuring caller by giving the caller confidence that you can address their request. Passive listening provides feedback that you are listening: verbally saying I see or Mmm Hmm. Agreement listening: Use to direct the conversation back to business matters by first agreeing with whatever the customer has said and then regain control of the conversation by saying something like: How can I help you today? Paraphrasing verifies details of the situation: Restate what the caller said first and then say, Is that correct? Communicate in a professional and friendly manner. We communicate on two levels: Feelings Business Building rapport and trust Fulfilling requests Providing information Solving Problems Pay particular attention to your verbal skills. Rate of Speech (Follow the lead of your caller) Speak clearly using a friendly tone of voice. Speaking too fast forces you to repeat yourself and you lose impact. Too slowly, may make the caller think that you believe he is slow to understand or that you are prolonging the conversation.

7 Having a positive and helpful attitude can make everyone s job easier, including your own. Attitude affects service and poor service costs everyone. The right attitude can improve your relations within your organization. The wrong attitude can keep you from achieving your best.

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