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Excellent Customer Service with CLEAR Formula – Part I

Posted by Nara Venditti on November 9, 2009

World-class customer service undermines a company’s long term survival, especially in today’s service oriented economy. Not surprisingly, a study by The Forum Corporation showed that 65% of customers switch providers because of inferior quality of customer service. A company may have excellent products and a well trained technical staff but if it fails to provide more than adequate customer service, it may not sustain its business. Each phone call, e-mail or face-to-face interaction that frontline employees have with customers presents an opportunity to reinforce a positive company image. However, the basic interpersonal skills to achieve this are not typically taught in school and academic life offers little opportunity for the art of dealing with people. During my many years of working in the customer service field I found that teaching CLEAR™ approach helps improve soft skills. C – Communicate L – Listen E – Empathize A – Ask R – build Relationships In the Part I we will cover the first letter “C” that stands for Communicate. Words are powerful tools that affect and determine the outcome of the business dialogue. They can trigger positive or negative feelings. In business, the words we speak (verbal communication) are one component of communication. Separate from technical substance, courtesy and understanding are crucial to good customer service. The service professional that can use words appropriately will have a clear advantage in the service interaction. A simple “Is there anything else I can help you with?” will be music to the customer’s ear when asked at the right time during the service transaction. Non-verbal cues encountered in face-to-face situations are another component of communication that can be more revealing than what is said. Body language can often convey confidence and sentiments to the attentive reader more so than words. Some of the more obvious cues in non-verbal communication are the smile, eye contact, hand shaking, personal distance and physical contact. For instance, in the US, an acceptable distance between conversing individuals is between one and a half to two feet. Less can trigger discomfort and anxiety and distracts from the subject. Except for the British, Europeans tend to stand closer while engaged in conversation. A good acceptable distance in Japan is about four feet. The essence of \ non-verbals vary across cultures and your service professionals need to be aware of them. Learning to recognize, interpret and react to body language cues becomes a powerful advantage. Stay tuned for Part II, and in the meantime do not forget to practice the “C” letter principle when communicating with your customers.

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