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Employee skills necessary for excellent customer service

We all know that extraordinary customer service is what sets a business apart from their competition. This is important in all kinds of businesses, large or small, retailers or wholesalers, service based or product based businesses, etc. Hiring employees with the right skill sets is all important. Following up with training and development on an ongoing basis are necessary to stay fresh and up to date. Following are skills necessary for employees to “Wow” the customers.

1. Patience — Delivering great service to customers is often challenging. You should possess the ability to communicate with the customer and take the time to understand their needs.

2. Attentiveness — The ability to really listen to the customer cannot be overemphasized. Paying attention to customers’ needs and taking in feedback is the groundwork for innovativeness.

3. Good communication skills — When relaying information to customers, keep it simple. Be clear and leave nothing to doubt. Listening and being perceptive is the basis for understanding your customers and will keep them coming back.

4. Product knowledge — Your front line employees should be well trained in the products you sell or services provided. Every single staff member should know your product “front to back” in order to assist customers in purchases or solving problems and answering questions.

5. Efficient management of time — You should be willing to spend the time necessary with the customer but at the same time there is a limit to the time you can take because of the demand from other customers. If you don’t know the answer it is best to get assistance from another employee who can help.

6. Art of persuasion — To develop the highest level of customer service you need to hone your persuasion skills. Selling is the key to success and you need to develop the ability to convince the customer that the product or service you are selling is right for them ( as long as it is). If your products are high quality it will not take “arm twisting” to make the sale.

7. Perseverance and tenacity — The kind of service people talk about and desire to find requires tenacity and perseverance. Refusal to accept the “status quo” will set apart the outstanding employee from the mediocre. A good work ethic and the willingness to do what needs to be done is necessary to satisfy the customer. Don’t allow discouragement to take over.

8. Ask for the business — Many people in error think presenting the product is all that is necessary. Not so. You must ASK FOR THE BUSINESS in order to close the sale.

9. Be willing to learn — If you are not willing to continue learning you will be left behind in the dust. You can always improve by investing in ongoing skill development. Whether it is selling skills, product knowledge, marketing expertise or industry updates you never arrive to a place where you know it all.

10. Be genuine and sincere — Believe in your business, and it will be easy and fun to provide good customer service. Customers are smart and will pick up on a lack of belief and sincerity in your interaction with them.

We are so fortunate in Brookhaven and Lincoln County with the large number of businesses who provide outstanding customer service. Businesses who have employees who really love what they do and care about providing excellent service is what makes them successful. However, it is a continuing process to hire and train employees who understand the importance of good customer service. There are businesses I don’t shop in because of rude employees and the obvious lack of customer care. At the same time I choose to shop in stores where I am treated as an important customer and where employees go above and beyond in the level of customer service provided. Little things go a long way and memorable experiences are what results in repeat customers. Customer service is not dead, but is alive and well at many well run, successful businesses.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.