(PRWEB) May 8, 2005
Earning a college degree will serve you well in launching a successful career, but there is one area that virtually every educational institution ignores: customer service. That is unfortunate given the indisputable fact that customer service can make or break a businessÂor a career. While, initially at least, you probably wonÂt have control of a business, you will have control of your career and that brings with it the responsibility of filling in the gaps of your education with the knowledge and skills that will propel you forward.
To that end, I recommend that you spend at least a portion of your early careerÂmaybe part-time while a student or as you search for a job in your chosen fieldÂworking for a customer service leader. You will be amazed at what you will learn, the skills you will master that will be invaluable to you later on.
This advice is supported by a colleague, who runs her own home-based business and, who at age 50, also began to work part-time for an airline. Dealing with passenger requestsÂand complaintsÂand working with an eclectic mix of employees, she places great value on the interpersonal skills she has learned on the job. ÂI wish I had done this three decades ago,Â she says. ÂThe skills I have learned and the confidence I have gained in dealing with the public and attempting to provide the best customer service possible would have been an immense benefit throughout my career.Â
Those skills and that confidence could be a boon to your career as well. I recommend that you do whatever it takes to get a job with a service leader, a company that you know from firsthand experience puts the customer first. That job might only be part-time or temporary, but it will be invaluable as you pursue a career in your chosen field. What skills will you develop during that time? You will learn to:
Solve problems. Great customer service professionals are quick on their feet. They have the skills necessary to quickly analyze a situation and decide what needs to be done to solve the problem to the customerÂs satisfaction.
ListenÂreally listen. You canÂt help a customer unless you hear and understand what she has to say and respond appropriately. Listening can go a long way toward developing a strong relationship with customersÂand with coworkers. ListeningÂand showing that you are listening by making eye contact and appropriate responsesÂshows that you care about what the customer is saying, that you are empathetic to her situation or her needs, and it provides you the information you need to serve her.
Handle complaints. When a customer has a complaint, he not only wants someone to listen to him, he wants someone to take care of itÂand to do so in a timely manner. You must be able to quickly identify the problem and potential solutions. Then you must do whatever is necessary to rectify the situation and to send that disgruntled customer away with a smile on his face.
Practice empowerment. You will realize the importance of doing whatever is necessary on the spot to take care of the customerÂto the satisfaction of the customer, not the company. That might mean breaking company rules, but it will set you apart from your coworkers and mark you as someone who is willing to take risks in an effort to satisfy the customer.
Apologize. Even if you arenÂt responsible for a customerÂs problem, you must accept responsibility for it on behalf of the company and do whatever is necessary to resolve it. You canÂt let your ego get in the way or try to blame someone else.
Make customers feel valued. Little things mean a lot. Recognizing your customers with a smile and calling them by name go a long way toward building a strong customer base. Surveys show that customers decide where to buy on the basis of their personal experiences. The quality of personal relationships is what brings them back to a business time and time again.
Develop a positive attitude. Your attitude not only determines how you approach your job, your customers, and your coworkers, it determines how they respond to you. If you have a positive attitude, you will go far.
One of the most important things you will learn while working for a customer service leader is that there is great power in mastering the skills necessary to provide exceptional customer service. That power and those skills will serve you well. They will get you noticed and will quickly move you up the ladder of success, no matter the industry, no matter the job.
John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service, including e-Service, Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, The Customer is Boss, and Ca$hing In: Make More Money, Get a Promotion, Love Your Job. John also has developed more than 26 customer service training programs that have been distributed and presented throughout the world. His bimonthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge.