Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of individuals participating in a Mohawk College City School Program, “Customer Service Engagement Workshops”.
The ask was for me to share my customer service story, specifically; how customer service skills have helped me in my career. I shared how my education/training in customer service started when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My dad, an avid gardener, had my sister and I go through our neighbourhood selling baskets of tomatoes lovingly harvested from his 200 tomato plants! I quickly learned the value of a smile. The bigger the smile the more tomatoes I sold, the bigger the tip I received!
A few years later I advanced to babysitting. I grew my little “business” to include a whole neighbourhood of families. Then, in high school and university, I continued to hone my customer service skills by working in retail and hospitality. There is no better place to learn how to serve customers than in these two sectors. I don’t think enough credit is given in the recruitment process to the transferrable skills that one can acquire in these industries.
Customer service skills are comprised of hard and soft skills.
Hard skills like communication skills (verbal and written, listening), problem-solving, decision making, understanding and applying company policies (but never using the word policy with a customer!) Soft skills like emotional intelligence, patience, attentiveness and empathy. To name just a few.
Most importantly though, your heart has to be in it. We at MCE can help with the skills. We have courses like “Creating Amazing Customer Service” and “Dealing with Difficult Behaviours.” We can help with tips and techniques for calming irate customers. We can even work with managers to establish customer service standards.
However, it is important to remember, that for any one individual or any organization to be successful, customer service has to be a priority, a value and, of course, in everyone’s heart.