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Customer Service Lessons Served Up From The World Of Tennis

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Both in business and in tennis, you can't succeed without improving your service game and you have to be ready to take advantage when the ball's in your court.

For a tennis player this of course means knowing your opponent -- instinctively understanding where to place your next shot to give you the best chance of winning the point. For an organization, this means knowing your customer and understanding their needs so you can serve them more effectively and efficiently.

As today's best players descend on Toronto for Rogers Cup, here are three other winning tips I believe Canadian businesses can learn from the tennis world:

Become an ace listener

Tennis may be the ultimate one-on-one sport, but listening to others is an essential ingredient to success. Look no further than tennis stars Novak Djokovic or Canadian Milos Raonic, both take in feedback, on and off the court, and are coached by former tennis greats Boris Becker and John McEnroe, respectively. Like these athletes, your customer service reps need to become legendary listeners too. In today's connected world, this also includes social listening. From tweets to likes to posts, customers are increasingly turning to online channels to connect with companies. Empower your team with modern tools like, an out-of-the-box customer service app that helps teams monitor and manage all customer service channels. And, in turn, you have to listen to what your customer service agents and sales staff are telling you -- what challenges are they facing every day; what would help them provide better service? Listening to both your customers and employees is the fastest way to give your business an advantage.

Keep cool under pressure

Whether you're a set down in a Grand Slam match or encountering a frustrating glitch while trying to resolve a customer service issue, it's important to stay calm at "break point." Any of today's top players maintain a cool demeanor under pressure, and you need to do the same.

If you're feeling stress at an important business dinner or networking event, channel your inner Roger Federer and methodically move forward towards your ultimate goal. One nerves-calming tip I suggest is putting both yourself and your customer at ease through "small talk". Not just for elevators and dog parks, small talk helps us connect with people and build common ground-- especially if you can show off those listening skills we talked about earlier by asking a pointed question pertinent to your customer's life.

Anticipate your next move

While tennis players are some of the most fit athletes in the world, it's the mental side of the game that's most important. Like a chess match, you need to know your opponent's tendencies in every situation and craft a unique game plan to defeat them. This is similar to customer service, where it's no longer enough to know what most of your customers prefer, instead, you need to have detailed information on each customer to deliver personalized experiences.

Consider leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) solutions so that you can collect and manage all of your company's customer information in one single place, allowing each member of your team to store and access a detailed customer overview all in one simple hub.

Not harnessing the power of new technologies is a lot like using a wooden racket -- you have no chance to compete. In today's digital world, customers expect you to know what they want before they even interact with you, and they certainly don't want to be treated like a number with form emails or re-routes to your company's voicemail recording.

Your customers want and expect your business to know them personally, to remember what interactions they have had with your company in the past, and anticipate their future needs.

And if you can't accomplish all those things, it's game, set, match, I'm afraid.

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Milos Raonic Defeats Vasek Pospisil, Advances To Rogers Cup Final
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