10 Customer Service Tips for 2015

As January rolls around again, it's time to reflect on the highs and lows of the last 12 months and plan for the year ahead.

Whatever happened in 2014, think of 2015 as a clean slate—a new, shiny, fresh-out-of-the-box year, which you can make your own. Here are 10 customer service tips to ensure that you—and your customers—have a happy new year.

1. Aim to inspire.

You don't have to be Superman to inspire; you just need to make your staff feel valued and demonstrate that you appreciate the value of their work.

Unsurprisingly, most workers aren't motivated by the thought of the company's shareholders making more money, so simply showing your team an upward profit margin on a graph is hardly inspirational.

Instead, consider the value of what you give your customers. Whether it's that the product or service your company sells has had a real impact on their life or just that your excellent service has made their day, it's the human element that is really going to motivate your workforce.

2. Ensure goals are attainable.

You could set 20 goals for your team this year, but if only a few of them are realistic, you'll create a demoralizing work environment.

Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows how to strike the right balance. The study, conducted by a team at Florida State University, demonstrates that setting a goal that is a range, rather than a specific number, has a huge impact on whether the goal is met.

The research looked at weight loss groups, and found that asking people to lose between one and three pounds per week was more effective than asking them to lose two pounds.

This works because the range makes the goal seem more attainable, but the option of achieving more adds an element of challenge. The same principle can easily be applied to call center targets.

3. Find the right bottom line.

Along with employee- or team-specific goals, you need to establish a customer service ethos that acts as a bottom line for what's expected from your team.

This should not be result-oriented, but rather relationship-oriented. For instance, this could be trying to say something in each call to make the customer smile or laugh or just calling the customer by name.

4. Manage customer expectations.

Customer service is all about expectations. Whether customers are new or returning, it's likely they will have an impression in mind about the service they will receive. It's the job of your agents to ensure their expectations are met—and preferably raised.

This is where a good service-level agreement comes in, along with the proper training for your staff so that they know exactly what's 

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