How to Perfect the Art of Customer Courtesy
“Kindness and courtesy are at the root of a positive customer service experience.” – Shep Hyken, Customer service and experience speaker.
An aggrieved customer calls a business’s customer support line to make a complaint about a product. A customer service representative (Let’s call her Meghan) picks up.
Meghan: Good morning. This is Meghan from ABC Software. How may I help you today?
Customer: I recently purchased your software, and it just won’t boot! I spent a ton on it, and it doesn’t work!
Meghan: I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having trouble. Can you help me with the specifics of the problem, please?
Customer: I’ve done everything that needs to be done here. Every time I try to install it, my computer crashes.
Meghan: Oh, that does sound frustrating. Sorry about the inconvenience. Let me connect you to an agent who can resolve this for you at the earliest. Thank you for your patience. We will do everything we can to fix this for you.
Politeness and courteousness are at the heart of a good customer experience. Notice Meghan’s patient and courteous customer service here even when the customer was getting agitated. In a cutthroat business environment, civil customer service is one of the most valuable and differentiating assets a business can have.
A polite conversation can soothe a customer’s worries and assure them that you are putting your best foot forward.
What is Customer Courtesy?
Courtesy is one of the seven critical elements of effective communication. The most impactful communication is:
Customer courtesy is the simple act of being polite, considerate, and friendly with customers when interacting with them. This includes acknowledging their value, the tone of conversation you use in all interactions, and the empathy and respect you show while solving their issues.
Being friendly with a friendly customer is easy. But it’s implementing the seven elements of effective communication listed above that can transform a conversation with even the most difficult or agitated customer to a better experience.
The essence of good customer support and excellent customer service skills is to be polite, empathetic, and courteous with frustrated customers. Civil customer service, therefore, involves trying to create a positive customer experience for everyone.
The courtesy you show customers when interacting with them has many positive spillovers for business. It can make customers feel valued and heard. Instead of feeling like an end product, customers feel cherished. This helps build long-term customer relations.
An American Express survey found that 68% of customers equate an excellent customer service experience with a pleasant conversation. In comparison, only 42% of customers think quick response is enough to qualify for a good experience. The same survey found that 69% of customers said they would spend more with a company that provided good customer service and customer support.
Businesses who help customer support representatives, and all employees in general, understand courteous and polite interactions are likely to benefit from good faith and loyal customers.
5 Reasons to Develop a Courteous Customer Service Culture
- Courteous and polite customer service directly impacts the experience a customer has with a business. It is the easiest way to make a good first impression among customers.
- A good customer experience means that you are likely to get more business through word-of-mouth recommendations. The American Express survey quoted above mentions that 9 out of 10 customers share service experiences.
- Customer courtesy is the bedrock for nurturing long-term customer relations, improving retention, and building a loyal customer base.
- Being courteous to a customer can reduce the chances of issue escalation to supervisors.
- It can improve overall company culture wherein courteous and polite conversations become the norm not just with customers but also among co-workers.
7 Ways to Up Your Customer Courtesy Game
While many believe that courtesy and politeness are inherent customer service skills, that is not always the case. There is always room to improve your communication skills and the quality of customer service you provide. Here are some handy tips to enhance customer courtesy:
- Treat All Customers Equally
The best customers are the ones with whom being friendly and courteous comes naturally. This is because they have an amicable demeanor that makes reciprocation easier. The real challenge, or rather the top-notch customer service skill to aim for, is to be polite and understanding even with the most aggressive, frustrated, and angry customer.
While it may take extra effort to satisfy an angry customer, the rewards are also higher. When their issue is fixed, they will likely remember your patience and leave with a company’s positive image.
- Actively Listen to Your Customers
Good listening skills can go a long way in creating a good customer experience. A courteous customer service representative who isn’t taking note of the customer’s problem is not of much use.
Actively listening to your customer’s problems and taking their intent is an integral part of customer courtesy. One way to show customers you are listening to them is to gently egg a conversation forward with encouraging phrases as I see, I understand, Sure, Go on, etc. Once you understand their requirement, you can then find a way to solve the problem.
- Include Courteousness in Every Form of Communication
Customer courtesy is not only the responsibility of front-facing customer service representatives. Every communication you have with customers needs to be courteous. This includes emails, chats, phone calls, and sales engagements.
For instance, in-person interactions will need attentive representatives, maintain eye contact, exude a warm and welcoming attitude, and make customers feel comfortable. On the phone, it would involve a polite tone and assuring language. Written communication will need to focus on the right choice of words.
- Keep Conversations Natural
Being courteous does not mean being formal. A customer service representative can be informal, friendly, polite, and professional at the same time. A conversational tone is likely to make a customer feel more at ease than a contrived script. Talking in the first person, making appropriate jokes to lighten the mood, and sharing a meme or GIF at the right moment can elevate interactions.
- Make Interactions Personalized
Personalized conversations automatically feel natural. One way to improve personalized customer service is to keep track of a customer’s history with your business. It can provide the proper context to add a level of courtesy.
For example, an internet service provider who knows the exact location of the customer reaching out and any past complaints may be able to explain the reason for an issue better. Giving the customer clarity about maintenance downtimes, lousy weather, or a poor modem connection can solve the matter faster.
- Make it Easy to Reach Your Customer Support Team.
Language is not the only form of courteous service. There are other ways to be polite and respectful of customers. Respecting their time and effort is another way of showing how valuable they are to you. Making customer support a complicated, bureaucratic process can be frustrating and lead to a poor customer experience.
Make it super easy for customers to reach you. Have a 24/7 customer support line, live chat, customer-facing chatbots, and self-service tools that reduce wait times and provide a seamless experience.
Extend your courtesy by keeping customers updated with their progress so they’re always informed. Be it the final stages of their purchase or even their delivery or onboarding process.
- Empower Your Customer Support Team
Courteous customer service is only possible when your support team has the right tools to do so. Even your best customer reps are human. If your business does not have the proper organizational workflow to help easy customer support, they are bound to fall short.
For instance, a poorly connected customer database that requires agents to toggle among different tools can delay support functions. This, in turn, can frustrate the agent, and they may end up sounding flustered with customers. Empower your agents with chat scripts, canned responses, and the proper training to provide impeccable service.
Commit to Courtesy
It is relatively easy for customers to deduce whether a business is genuinely invested in them or putting up a front. An effort towards improving customer experience will never go unnoticed. Courteous and friendly conversations, empathetic responses, and a sincere commitment to solving their issues can go a long way in fostering long-term customer relations.
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