Customer Service Skills – Avoid the #1 Problem

Customer service skills are on many business leaders’ minds, so I am asked to deliver customer service training frequently. I recently asked employees in a department store what they thought the biggest customer service complaint is – not just in their business but in any business. They guessed some obvious answers such as rudeness, defective products, being followed around the store, bad return policies, and even not counting change back. All of these are good answers, but they are not the biggest customer service issue. What is it? It’s indifference – who cares?

Recall how you have felt when you’ve been on eternal hold and heard, “Your call is important to us.”

“Your call is important to us.”

I shared a recent real-world experience with indifference in customer service skills. I went into a dress shop in Eugene, Oregon. I cruised around every aisle and browsed the sale racks in the back of the store. Then, finding nothing interesting, After about five minutes I headed back to the front door to exit. That’s when I heard, “Can I help you?” I felt like saying “Not anymore!” as I left. They needed some customer service training!

Indifference is the service complaint most customers have. I didn’t feel noticed or acknowledged, let alone served. It was too late to ask to help me when I was walking out the door. To give good customer service, don’t be indifferent to your customers!

  • Acknowledge people as soon as possible. Keep your eye on the front door so you can greet people as they come in.
  • Be careful of the tendency to give better service to those who look like they’ll buy, you can’t always tell.
  • Ask if they’d like help, or just like to browse. Don’t assume you know, because you don’t.
  • Compliment their selection, confirm your guarantees, and (if they pay in cash) count back that change.
  • Finally, thank them for coming in as they leave.

You are already an expert on customer service, because of your years of experience being a customer. Don’t be indifferent to the people who have the potential of increasing your business.