Insights from a Customer Service Agent

5 Things I learned about working in Customer Service at a Grocery Store

Working in customer service is no easy task, and making sure the customers always leave happy is much harder. When I started as a customer service representative 3 years ago, I was told to just smile and be polite and everything should pan out with every customer. But that’s not always the case. Here are the 5 things I learned from working customer service at my local grocery store.

1. Know your Company’s Policies:

You should never go into customer service expecting to just wing it. Every company, no matter what it is, has its sets of policies to abide by. Those policies help keep the company’s mission, vision and values while still aiming towards satisfying its customers. Not all policies are strict rules, some policies help guide us on how to leave the customer feeling like they were treated fairly even though they may not leave happy.

2. Be prepared for Anything:

When you realize that every day will be different, your day will go smoothly. As I said earlier, working customer service is no simple task. You will deal with different people with many different personalities. Over the years I’ve had some of the nicest customers but then there are those who will yell at you because they are not getting what they want. I’m certain that not all customer service jobs will have the same types of encounters but it is always best to keep an open mind and be prepared for just about anything. Always remember that you are there to serve the customer!

3. Ask For Clarification:

Most people come to customer service knowing what the problem was and knowing what they want to gain from the call or visit to the customer service desk. You can’t always assume that you know the best way to take care of a customer because every customer has different needs and ways to ask for what they need. Sometimes asking questions is the best way to go but sometimes asking too many questions may irritate an already upset customer. So, just get a feel for what the customer wants and try to take care of the issue while still following your stores policies and procedures.

4. Be clear with the Customer:

Not only is asking for clarification from the customer important but also being clear with them is an essential part of customer service. It is always a good idea to repeat the problem back to the customer. That way the customers feel like they are being heard and you know exactly what you are dealing with in order to take the necessary steps to solve the issue. Another thing to remember is that you do not want to leave the customer wondering about what is going on. Keeping the customer informed through the process improves the overall customer experience.

5. Know when to Apologize:

It’s important to understand we are representing the company, what it stands for, and that customer satisfaction is the goal. When I first started working customer service, I took every problem that the customers had as a personal issue. I would get irritated whenever a customer came to me upset about a certain issue because that often meant that I had to apologize to the customer for any inconvenience that they may have experienced. The customer’s anger may not necessarily be caused by us but it is our job to deescalate the situation and help to the best of our ability.  An apology may not entirely solve the issue but it will give the customer a sense that they are being understood and that you will try your best to help.

Final Thoughts

Over the years of working in customer service, I have learned many concepts that can be applied to my personal life. Not only have I gained some insight on effectively dealing with the public but also how to interact, communicate and deal with all sorts of people outside of work including those closest to me.

Two Must-Have Areas of Excellence for Budding Entrepreneurs

Back to Basics:  Two Must-Have Areas of Excellence for Budding Entrepreneurs

By Guest Author, La’Wana Harris

 

The world of entrepreneurship is one of constant change, risk and opportunity. We brave the tides of customer trends, innovation and market place conditions— and we love it. However, the opportunity to succeed as an entrepreneur doesn’t come easy. There are conditions that apply to small, emerging businesses that don’t apply to other sectors in the business world. There are a few “musts” that entrepreneurs are required to practice to stay float amongst the odds.

 

Let’s review a familiar scenario. You’re on the phone with a specialist who doesn’t know what they are doing. After being transferred multiple times you finally request the manager. You’re excited to resolve your issue when the manager says, “I’m sorry, I need to transfer you to the department that handles these requests.” We’ve all been there.

 

As entrepreneurs, most of our customer interactions are first impressions for our brand. We don’t have the luxury of having a preceding reputation that can withstand an interaction like the one described above. We must deliver every time we have the chance. Here are two ways to ensure that you always deliver excellence.

 

1. Whatever you do, do it well

This is Business 101 right?  It should be. Yet many entrepreneurs on their quest for the “next big thing” fall into the trap of pursuing speed to market and low cost instead of value.  You don’t have to be an expert in everything—just the thing that you are doing.

 

As entrepreneurs, we must ensure that everyone who represents or supports our brand is well trained and fully competent.  No doubt all organizations strive for the same result, but we don’t have to look far to see that many are failing miserably.  In an environment where excellence in execution and delivery is often the exception, we as entrepreneurs can establish a competitive advantage by simply taking the time to ensure that our brand is associated with knowledgeable, competent professionals.

 

Excellence begins with you.  You are leading from the front as an entrepreneur and this requires a commitment to two key competencies: self-awareness and self- development.

 

Self-awareness:  There are really good options available to learn about yourself and how you “show up.”  It really doesn’t matter if you choose a tried and true tool like Meyers-Briggs or one of the more recent assessments like Insights.  The impact is the same.  You get to learn about yourself, your preferences and most importantly your potential blind spots.

 

The insights you gain about yourself and your preferences allow you to improve your ability to adapt and connect with others.  You will also acquire valuable feedback that will help you flex your communication style resulting in improved interpersonal skills.  Finally, the application of the key insights and enhanced interpersonal skills will lead to strong relationships with your employees and customers.

 

Self-development: Staying abreast of industry changes, market trends and the latest technological advances seems almost impossible in the current era of information overload.  However, we can overcome this seemingly impossible task by adopting a few simple best practices.  Our credibility and impact will soar as we dedicate time for ongoing training and development.

 

As entrepreneurs we are accustomed to operating in “get it done” mode.  This natural propensity fuels our success as a business owner and it can also hinder our ability to slow down.  One best practice that works well for me is my commitment to the “Sacred 20.”  Block 20 minutes on your calendar everyday to learn and grow your capabilities.  You may review something that you have done in the past to refresh your knowledge or explore something totally new.  Either way it will be time well spent!

 

2. Excellence in customer service must be resurrected

How many times a day to you find yourself interacting with people who appear to be stuck in jobs that they hate?  There seems to be a secret training class on how to not deliver good customer service based on the high number of customers who report being surprised when they receive good service.

 

In fact, there’s a whole litany of sidesplitting examples of poor customer service. Many of which have contributed to some of the most famous satire.  Real life experiences with inept employees or business owners are usually not funny at all and result in loss customers.

 

We also have an amplifying factor in the importance of resurrecting customer service.  Social media outlets have given customers an immediate platform for voicing their opinions—and the world is listening.  Many businesses have found themselves in crisis mode following a bad review going viral.

 

Who could ever forget the scene in Pretty Woman when Vivian (Julia Roberts) strolled into a posh Rodeo Drive boutique in search for some “appropriate” attire?  Vivian points to an outfit on the mannequin and asks, “How much is this?” The sales woman replies, “I don’t think this would fit you.” “Well,” Vivian says, “I didn’t ask if it would fit. I asked how much it was.”

 

The clerk even went as far as saying, “I don’t think we have anything for you.  You’re obviously in the wrong place.”  The looks Vivian received as she asked about the cost of the outfit coupled with the condescending tone in the store clerk’s response resulted in the loss of a huge sale.  This spelled bad news for the boutique’s bottom line.

 

Vivian’s story, while fictional, is not a far stretch from many real-life customer experiences. The good news is that entrepreneurs can set the stage for resurrecting customer service within our respective industries.  Cloud Cherry shared some great tips to help you along the path to excellence in their  “Top 11 customer experience resolutions you need to make for 2017” infographic.

 

There are many more keys to success as an entrepreneur.  Focusing the fundamentals such as doing what you do extremely well and establishing a service culture will help you develop a sustainable competitive advantage in the increasing demanding entrepreneurial marketplace.

 

To learn more about La’Wana, visit lawanaharris.com