“89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience” – GARTNER RESEARCH

Good customer service can have a big impact on your bottom line.

There are plenty of fleet management and fleet fuel card companies, but only a few that offer top notch customer service.
You often hear it said that it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. And it’s true: The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 68% of customers leave because they are upset with the treatment they’ve received. Over the next six weeks we are going to cover 18 of the top customer service skills in a 6 part blog series.

Part 1.1 AUTHENTIC CUSTOMER SERVICE – SKILLS

Skills required for operational and technical actions are called hard skills or skill sets. Typically, you learn hard skills in the classroom with training material or on the job experience. By contrast, soft skills are the traits that make you a good employee, such as etiquette, listening, communication and getting along with other people.

Soft skills have to do with the personal side of customer service and may affect a customers emotional side of the brain. Research shows the right side of the brain is home to emotions, intuition, creativity, art and music, whereas the left side of the brain affects language, reasoning, analysis, logic and math.

Customers can be affected by how you greet and listen to them, including the warmth and sincerity in your voice over the phone or in person. Soft skills can have positive, negative or indifferent reactions and at the end of the day, customers will definitely remember how you made them feel. The difference between a good customer service employee and a remarkable customer service employee is the ability to get raving reviews about the help and service the customer received from your company.

Part 1.2 EMPATHY

What exactly is empathy?

According to Study.com empathy is the ability to understand and connect with someone’s feelings. In customer service, empathy is the ability to affirm a customer’s feelings and indicate that you can understand their pain or frustration, even if you cannot fix it.

Our account manager here at impacfleet.com told me a story about the frustration a professional fleet driver had when their fleet fuel card was not working properly after several failed attempts to activate the fuel pump. I definitely feel the frustration thinking about the situation.

As the fleet driver holds up the line at the gas station, he is thinking about how he still needs to make the final delivery for the day and how pressed for time he is. Again, after several more failed attempts he decides to call our customer service department and in doing so he immediately receives a friendly greeting.

As the driver explains the problem with the fleet credit card our customer service representative immediately shows empathy, sensitivity and understanding and continues to listen, taking an active interest in his concerns while building rapport with the driver. Now that the fleet driver is feeling more at ease the process to gather the necessary data can begin and the problem can be quickly resolved, professionally and without incident.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until you show him how much you care.” -Damon Richards

Part 1.3 GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

Here at impacfleet.com we really take the time to get to know our customers and learn all the details of their account and nine times out of ten we know who is calling as soon as we hear their voice on the other end of the line.

“Good, Old Fashioned Customer Service.”

Do you recall the “good old days” when the corner diner welcomed all their customers by name, doctors actually made house calls and everyone greeted you with a friendly hello? Blending old fashioned expectations with the modern customer is as simple as that. Friendly greetings, genuine interest in your customer’s well being and a true appreciation for their time and money spent with your company can go a long way.

Stay focused and present, listen to what your customers are talking about and most importantly take time to learn about their business and the services you provide. Any barista worth his stock knows his everyday customers’ preferences – from their special flavor to how much froth they prefer.

For those of you that really want to stick out from the crowd, always add a little emotional element to every interaction – a calm voice, friendly smile and of course fast, efficient and knowledgeable service.

“Old School Values Still Rule.”

Old school communication skills is good practice and good business and don’t worry about showing your appreciation. Have you ever heard anyone complain about feeling over-appreciated? And always address your customers by name, this makes them feel valued and acknowledged. If you have a hard time remembering names try using repetition. When your customer calls in or you’re introduced for the first time be sure to use their name and again during your meeting or conversation and again when you finish up your call. If you have forgotten someone’s name, instead of not using their name at all, ask him or her to remind you, and then repeat the repetition process again.

“Old School Meets Technology.”

Impac Fleet Customer ServiceIf you cannot meet in person, use technology to improve the customer experience and create that personal touch. Meeting face-to-face using platforms like Skype, Facetime, ZOOM and GoToMeeting is a great way to add that old school touch without the time and expense of travel.

You can also record live sessions with your colleagues or customers and create engaging and informative training content or review your conversation later instead of taking notes.

If you plan on using the recording for training, make sure you get permission from everyone involved in the recording. For regular face-to-face meetings simply let everyone in attendance know that you will be recording the meeting and always offer to make it available to anyone that would like a copy.

“Conclusion”

This concludes part one of our six part series on “How Great Customer Service Skills Impact Fleet Managers. If you enjoyed our article please share and subscribe to get email updates from this discussion as well as future articles. Please check out our blog page for real time fleet tracking solutions and other industry related articles.