On a general level, customer service is about meeting the needs of customers and, ultimately, ensuring customers have a positive experience with your company.
A crucial part of creating a positive experience for customers is addressing problems they face and providing solutions as quickly as possible.
From my perspective, I also think that one of the greatest things about being in customer service is brightening a customer’s day by helping them wrap up an issue quickly!
But how does one become a good problem solver?
Let’s begin with a simple definition of problem solving skills. One definition I like to use is from Pamela Skilings, who describes problem solving as your ability to identify issues, obstacles, and opportunities, and to develop and implement effective solutions.
So, let’s start with improving your identification of issues, obstacles, and opportunities:
1. Read between the lines. Sometimes identifying the problem is easy. Sometimes it isn’t. When a customer doesn’t clearly articulate the problem they’re dealing with, you’ll have to use context clues and ask specific questions to form the complete picture.
2. Repeat the problem in the customer’s language. Don’t assume you know what the customer is talking about – be sure you know. You don’t want to misunderstand the problem right from the start. Recite the problem back to the customer using language they understand. Sometimes, we automatically use industry jargon when speaking with customers, which isn’t always the best way to communicate with them.
Finally, let’s tackle how to implement effective solutions:
1. Build your knowledge base. Adding to your knowledge of the services or products your company offers can make your interactions with customers more pleasant and efficient. When you don’t have to direct customers to a more knowledgeable person, their interaction with your company will be shorter, and they’ll be more satisfied.
2. Solve the root problem, not just the immediate issue. There may not be a root problem in every case. But if there is, address it and solve it. If you don’t solve the real problem, the customer may experience further problems in the future – problems which could have been prevented. Providing a great customer experience means being proactive and keeping clients happy in the long run. Take the time to solve the problem causing the problems!
You may already know some of these tips, but putting them into practice while you’re under pressure can be difficult. Just remember, practice makes perfect!
Author: Phyllis Gillman
As a 29-year customer service veteran in the insurance industry, Phyllis Gillman has spent more than her fair share of time helping clients and customers. In her long stint in the industry, she’s answered over 700,000 phone calls.