Communication is not just part of customer service; it is the most important part of customer service. That is because good customer service requires listening to a customer's needs and then telling her how you plan to meet those needs — in other words, communicating with your customer.
Every aspect of customer service is filled with communication between the customer and the company. While the most obvious customer service communication examples would be those between a customer who has a problem and the customer service agent assigned to help him, a customer does not need to reach out to the customer support department in order to communicate with the company.
Some of the many, many situations that involve customer service communication include:
- When a shopper enters a store and sees price tags, these communicate what the customer must pay for an item.
- When a client visits a company's website and reads about what services the business offers.
- When a bank teller makes small talk with an account holder who is depositing a check.
- When a company sends an email about a data breach to those who have been affected.
When you begin to recognize how frequently a company communicates with its customers, it is easy to see the importance of communication skills in customer service. The benefits of good communication with customers are numerous, but they may include:
- Leaving them with a positive feeling when interacting with your company, which will make them want to continue doing business with you even after they encounter problems and reduce the likelihood that they will leave you for your competitors.
- Letting them know that you understand the importance of meeting customer needs and are willing to do what it takes to keep them happy, improving customer loyalty.
- Giving them peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you will do whatever it takes to fix it, which may translate to customers being willing to spend more on your product or service.
- Making them comfortable with bringing their problems to your attention, which can help you rectify the issues before they negatively impact other clients or can even result in new innovations.
- Creating a feeling of trust by not only listening to their needs but also by being transparent with your customers about everything that may affect their experience, from pricing information and shipping delays to product recalls and data breaches.
- Associating your brand with positive values such as transparency, honesty and good corporate governance.
- Showing you value your customers and do not take them for granted, which could result in free word-of-mouth marketing when shoppers tell their friends about their experiences.
Many companies wait until a customer contacts them before worrying about customer service. This is a mistake, as it only focuses on one of the many types of communication in the full customer service experience. Businesses that truly recognize the importance of communication skills in customer service instead look at all interactions with their customers and try to make each step as effective and positive as possible.
When you want to improve customer service communication, do not just look at the end stage where an irate shopper gets in touch when things go wrong. Instead, try these suggestions:
- Start at the first stage of communication with your patron and try to do what you can to minimize the number of things that can go wrong before they happen.
- Clearly label products and services so shoppers know what to expect and what not to expect. Be transparent with your prices, warranties and service limitations.
- Use positive language when communicating with customers, whether online, in store or over the phone. Do not say, "We are out, and we can not send more until the 15th." Instead, you could say, "While there are not any in stock right now, I can place an order that will ship to you on the 15th."
- When you are aware of problems that may affect customers, be proactive about notifying them. Do not make them come to you.
- If something bad happens, always try to make things right for the customer, even if it costs you a bit more in the short term. A loyal customer is a great return on investment.