Customer service has evolved into one of the most prominent differentiators among businesses and across industries. This especially holds true in niches like the residential home service where customers may ask everyday questions about systems you recently installed or items you previously repaired.
That said, developing customer service skills are no longer just a sprinkle on top of a high-quality services sundae. They are equally pivotal if you wish to be the leader in your market.
Fortunately, today’s businesses can wield the Excalibur of excellent customer service by developing one important skill: empathy.
Yes. Not a trait, but a skill. Of course, most everyone is empathetic to some degree. A person’s heart would normally ache upon seeing a suffering friend or a whimpering dog on the street. However, they will likely not reflect the same to customer care. If employees learn to harness and extend empathy to clients, only then will your business grow and thrive.
Empathy is the foundation of all other important customer service skills and the building block of great customer service. We’ll examine customer service skills further and understand how you can implement them in the residential home service industry in a bit.
Understanding Customer Service Skills
In order to provide a positive customer experience, you must have the skills and traits necessary to address the customer’s needs. This is what customer service skills are for. Communication and problem-solving are generally viewed as the key aspects of good customer service. The only problem is, and marketers don’t tell you this, employees don’t naturally express effective communication and problem-solving even when they could.
There is a skill behind the scenes that initiates, motivates, and amplifies the need to convey communication and problem-solving — that’s empathy. All other customer service skills are anchored on this quality.
Think of empathy as the lynchpin of all other customer service skills because no other quality keeps customers warm and fuzzy inside. Empathy shows clients that you care about them and you have their felt needs in mind.
A customer’s felt needs are summarized in one acronym; MET (money, energy, and time). Humans are compelled to satisfy their felt needs, and your employees are no exception. This is why it’s important to train customer service skills to ensure your customer’s felt needs take priority, especially when things get emotional. People want to know that they will be taken care of by their chosen tribe (brand). To let them down when it comes to their perceived problems is a betrayal. That’s why cultivating customer care through empathy is the coveted skill in the industry.
Of course, that’s not to say empathy is the ONLY skill that matters for amazing customer service. That’s ridiculous. However, the research is clear that expressing earnest empathy to customers will boost your entire customer service experience and increase your customer service quality by multiples.
High-quality customer service skills are non-negotiable if you want to effectively engage new customers and retain previous ones. This is especially important in the residential home services industry where maintaining past clients is more cost-efficient than scouring the web for new customers.
If mastering empathy and developing your team’s customer service skills are the bolted gateway to your business’ success, Wizard of Sales® has the bolt cutters. Learn how you can invigorate your customer service experience when you book a call.
Who is in Charge of Customer Service?
All employees, one way or another, interact with customers. For this reason, it’s our goal to instill customer service skills in everyone in the organization.
There are a lot of intricacies involved in customer service that most companies overlook. For example, customer service reps deal with customers differently than a technician, which requires a different kind of training yet is still anchored on empathy. On top of that, many believe that hiring an experienced customer service rep is enough to carry the team’s weight but that’s not exactly accurate.
An experienced customer service rep in the beauty niche won’t perform as sensational in the HVAC industry without proper guidance. It’s like asking Michael Jordan to glove up and fight in the Octagon. Even if you put their G.O.A.T. in the ring, he’ll last a good 20 seconds against a professional mixed martial artist.
The same principle applies to customer service skills. Hiring an experienced and industry-tested customer service rep is a band-aid solution to a bigger challenge.
Ensuring everyone receives customer service training will equip them with the customer service skills to face any client with empathy and confidence. Moreover, this will empower employees because improved customer service allows them to DO MORE for clients, which will increase their sense of importance in the operation.
Exceeding Customer Expectations Should Be in Your CORE
There are so many nuances in human nature. Although most people are generally good people who don’t wish to do harm, strategically employing empathy is a learned behavior. As negative situations arise, more basic instincts kick in, and we have to practice what we do with those emotions once the chemicals flood our body. Customer care is not a natural response in tense or negative situations.
The problem with people working in the residential home service industry is that they are sometimes all too myopic, that is, excessively fixated on their respective responsibilities ONLY.
Can you imagine how a deeply worried customer would feel if a maintenance guy dismissed their concerns with this:
“Hey, I’m just a maintenance man, if you have any product concerns, feel free to bring it up to our customer service rep.”
Now, compare that to a maintenance man equipped with customer service skills. Instead of dismissively dropping a client’s concern, they’ll normally follow what Jeff Sexton calls The Aunt May Guide to Customer Service Excellence:
Hello, what seems to be the problem? I’m sorry that you have to deal with that, please rest assured that we have the guys who can help you out. Let me just double-check your number and address so I can bring it up to our customer service reps, and we’ll reach out to you ASAP.
See the difference? Although technicians rarely get called directly for concerns, it’s a good idea to have empathetic scripts that convince clients you have their best interests in mind (money, energy, and time).
Remember, whenever anyone in the team wears their work uniform, they represent the entire company. You want your people up to speed on how they can serve your customers better in every way they can through good customer service. No one is excused from learning customer service skills regardless of their rank — be it the CEO, customer service reps, accountants, or technicians.
Everyone is equipped with the emotional quotient to understand what other people are going through. It’s not rocket science. You can show your customers that you really care by extending empathy, whether or not you can solve the problem. This will help build your brand reputation and create a solid foundation for growth.
Research-backed Importance of Customer Service Skills
Customer service is now a major battlefield between various brands and solutions. If you want to get a leg up in the competition, instilling customer service skills for everyone in the team is a no-brainer. Below are some studies outlining the importance of good customer service for your business:
In a highly saturated and competitive space like the residential home service industry, it’s important to set yourself 600 ft. above your competitors. You can do this by offering unique and irresistible value propositions that your competition isn’t keen to dip their toes into. I call this creating your perfectly fair competitive advantage.
The only problem is that your value proposition will normally come at a premium price. Having exemplary customer service skills can help persuade your prospects to choose you over cheaper solutions. According to HubSpot, 68% of customers are willing to pay more for products and services if brands extend a good customer service experience to them.
Khoros says 86% of customers believe that good customer service can transform one-time clients into long-term subscribers. Salesforce Research corroborates the data by revealing that 89% of consumers are more likely to re-purchase if the customer service experience is positive. For the above reasons, residential home services with club memberships should work on their customer service skills to build long-term clientele relationships.
Conversely, if you fail to streamline your customer service process, you risk losing 58% of your consumers to your competitors, according to Microsoft. This means losing out on potential profitability and growth. Bain and Company says a 5% increase in customer retention can spike profit from 25% to 95%. While based on Invesp’s research, customer acquisition costs are between 5 and 25 times greater than retaining customers.
Always Know The Answer?
Don’t be mistaken. It’s impossible to always know all the answers to your client’s concerns. However, a drizzle of empathy will change your employees’ perspectives from NOT KNOWING the answer to DOING EVERYTHING TO KNOW in order to address the concern.
You may have heard of the saying, “when you’re in love with your customers, you’ll always know the answer.” On second thought, I made that up while writing this piece, but the point is empathy motivates your team to know the answers, and even if you don’t, you will still make customers feel that their concerns are heard and that they matter.
Because customer service skills are learned behavior, we need to have a coping mechanism to allow your employees to trigger the right reaction when faced with customer service issues.
This coping mechanism is so simple you will struggle to believe how powerfully effective it is. It is based on universal truths that research has identified as the 3 most critical aspects of a successful business. I call these 3 anchors the CORE Principles.
When your employees all operate from the same 3 CORE Principles, you deliver a consistent, customer-oriented relational experience (CORE). This fosters loyal raving fans, positive word of mouth, and 5-star reviews.
So, the basis for every decision your company makes should be passed through this simple mechanism to deliver a world-class buying experience.
We help people win in a trustworthy and grateful manner together.
Do you have questions?
The journey of a thousand customer service skills begins with one first step — empathy. If you have any questions or are looking for an empathy-driven customer service specialist who can lead the way, book a call with Ryan Chute from Wizard of Sales®.