11 Unwritten Rules Of Customer Service

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One of my colleagues and I recently had one of those “newbie” moments in our new roles at FCR.  We both walked into our weekly staff meeting at the predetermined start time that was carved out in stone on our Google Calendars.  It was at the moment that we were informed that we were late.  What?  Late?

Photo Credit: ND Strupler via Creative Commons License

We quickly learned that “On Time” to a meeting at FCR means five minutes before the start time.  In unison we both said “Thanks for sharing” and followed that up with a “What other unwritten rules do we need to know about?”  On a side note, learning those unwritten rules that are engrained in your company’s culture are rather important to success in any job.  

One of our more tenured colleagues was so gracious as to forward a list of unwritten rules (so I guess they were in fact written) to us.  As I read through this list, many of the rules are just plain common sense and translate directly to the level of service we should provide to our clients and customers.  I’d like to share eleven of them with you and translate them to customer service:

1. Be financially frugal. Spend but spend wisely.

Customers and clients are entrusting our company with their money.  Whether it’s working with their billing or recommending new services, it’s essential that we are accurate and only recommend services that they actually need.

2. No one likes surprises. Call out any issues or concerns as they arise.

Customer don’t like surprises.  This is what the word proactive is all about.  Any time there is an issue with your service that might affect customers, tell them about it.  Social media has actually made this easier.  Many customers will check your social media channels before calling support about an issue.  Make a proactive announcement there.

3. Ideas are encouraged to be shared.

This speaks to the voice of the customer.  Customers constantly share their opinions about how you can improve your product or service.  Listen to this feedback and relay it to someone who can help put this into action.  Customers love knowing they’ve been heard.

4. If you don’t know, ask. Every business is different.  You have the job, we trust your skills and experience, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There’s no bigger waste of time in customer service than troubleshooting the wrong issue.  Take the time to really understand the issue at hand.  Ask clarifying questions and listen carefully.  As the expert on your product or service, you may have to answer questions customers didn’t even know to ask.

5. Use the values to guide your decisions and you will never go wrong.

The company values are there to ensure that we deliver a consistent level of customer service that ultimately helps us achieve our vision and mission.  That spells success for our company, colleagues, and customers.

6. Flexibility and Adaptability are required

Customer service is all about improvisation.  Customers come to us with a variety of problems and the ability to adapt is a major key to resolving complex issues.

7. Pick up the phone versus sending an email.  Have a conversation first.

It’s so easy to draw out a conversation on email, chat, or social media, but don’t be afraid to expedite the interaction by calling the customer.  Phone is still the easiest channel for building rapport and getting to the root of the issue in expedient fashion.

8. Always assume positive intent

It’s so easy to get into a “customers are idiots” mindset.  That dooms every interaction to fail.  Assume the best, be the expert, and patiently guide your customer to a resolution.

9. Kindness matters. Everyone matters

This is a great segue from number eight.  Treat your customers the way you want to be treated and give them the feeling that their call and their business is the lifeblood of your organization–because it is.

10. No true hierarchies here, everyone is available to communicate with at any time.

No one in the organization is too important to speak with a customer.  Whether you’re on the frontlines or a member of management, be approachable to your customers.  It never ceases to amaze me what a powerful driver of loyalty it is when a customer feels heard by management.

11. Arriving 5 minutes before a meeting is being on time

And back to my original point, early is on time.  This shouldn’t be as big of a challenge for me as it is.  We should never make the customer wait on us.

What are some of the unwritten rules either in your organization or in the way you treat your customers?  Leave us a comment or share on Facebook or Twitter.

jeremy-watkin-profile

Jeremy Watkin
Head of Quality
FCR

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

16 Comments. Leave new

If someone brings a concern to your attention, it is important to that person. Even if you think that it is not. Treat their opinion with respect.

Reply
Arianne F
11/19/2015 7:11 am

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be genuinely interested in the customer.

Reply
Jeremy Watkin
11/19/2015 10:16 am

Yes! How could I miss that one?

Reply
Jeff Toister
11/19/2015 8:08 am

Gotta love the five minutes early rule. Many companies do the opposite. They make it acceptable to be five minutes late. They even refer to it as (insert name of company here) Time. What a waste.

Reply
Jeremy Watkin
11/19/2015 10:16 am

Ha. I think you mean “Hawaii Time.” Great point, Jeff and thanks for the comment!

Reply

Kindness matters, especially with upset customers. Being able to actually listen to an angry and/or upset customer, not react in the same fashion, and STILL show empathy, understanding and kindness goes a really long way in turning a negative into a positive in most cases. Owning up to a mistake made goes a long way also. Thank you for sharing these important points.

Reply
Jeremy Watkin
11/21/2015 10:36 pm

Great points, Brandi!

Reply
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