When I was planning to update my business cards, I read how I initially described myself as a “CUSTOMER SERVICE SPECIALIST.” I thought with 25 plus years of providing Customer Service advice, I had become a specialist in this field. I took some time to reflect and thought “Just WHAT is a CUSTOMER SERVICE SPECIALIST and is this term easily understood?” I then realized what I offer is a service to HELP Businesses and changed my title to CUSTOMER HELPER because that’s what I REALLY do. I simply HELP my CUSTOMERS by providing advice to HELP THEM better satisfy their customers. CUSTOMER SERVICE SPECIALIST “sounds” more impressive but really, what do I really offer? My customers can better understand this as the title is simple AND the focus in on HELPING CUSTOMERS rather than on me, as it should be. How can you simplify the terms you use to describe yourself or offerings for ease of understanding for your customers? Many businesses may mistakenly use jargon that they are familiar with but may be lost and confusing to their customers. Always consider and create words and methods to simplify the message you project. Be sensitive to WHO you are talking to and modify your words to their level of understanding. Remember most people would rather have simplicity in their lives vs difficulty. Do your best to simplify anything in your business that can best assist all you serve, staff and customers alike.
Do you like receiving gifts? I am sure you do as we all do. Do you like receiving unexpected gifts? From strangers? Yes, I’d be leery too receiving a gift from a stranger but not if they were a new customer who has taken the time to choose my business and given me the opportunity help them improve their lives. Personally, I take it as a gift every time a person has chosen to inquire about using my services. A business, should consider every person who contacts their business as a gift as well, giving them the opportunity to help them find the products and services they need to improve their lives. Employees too should consider every customer as a gift as they enable them to have a job and earn money. Consider EVERY person who contacts you, visits you, visits your web page, etc. as a GIFT. Appreciate and thank them as such for the opportunity they have given you to improve both of your lives.
Do you really listen to what your customers need? Do you really listen to what your staff has to say? Or do you just listen to what you want to hear? I’m in the camp that holds 80% of people do NOT really listen to what others need. Is it a lack of focus, self-absorption, time constraints, or all of the above?
I consult for a world class, multi-unit, national company that offers gasoline, car wash, oil change, interior cleaning AND delicious dining options at all locations. All staff are given extensive training in performance of duties, customer service and sales. Bonuses are rewards for reaching sales goals daily, weekly, monthly. All follow a script to offer “extras” to increase sales. Excellent in theory, but here is where they break down. More often than not in the effort to reach sales goals and adhere to company policy, staff does not LISTEN or OBSERVE customer needs or wants when making their sales presentation.
For example, at a weekday lunch hour, when customers may be on a tight time schedule, staff will spend 2 minutes per car still attempting sales that causes lineups. I can have $6 in my hand for the lowest price wash and say, “this is all I have” and still be offered higher priced wash options. I could have just washed my car an hour ago and the sales advisor will say “By the dirt on your car, we recommend the most expensive wash.” The company’s sales goals outweigh the customers’ wants. They just don’t listen. At times they are helpful, and fortunately, as the business offers such good value, they are successful.
Look at your business. How do you try to Up Sell? Do you really listen to your customers and suggest something that may help them, thus demonstrating integrity, and building trust? Or do you just think “sales, sales, sales” and offer the product you want to sell no matter what? For example, in a restaurant I would definitely suggest a warm drink on a cold day or a delicious bowl of freshly made soup. Would I suggest a 64oz cold draft on sale to a group of elderly women? NO, NO, NO. Train staff to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN before they attempt a sale. STOP and pause to be ready to LOOK at how customers are behaving and to LISTEN to what they have to say BEFORE you suggest something to HELP THEM.
Trust me. Compared to 80% of your competition, the goodwill and relationship building you will gain by CARING enough to actually LISTEN should result in gaining a long-term customer!
As a child, when my dad took us shopping, he would be upset when he pulled into a parking lot and the owner and staff had taken all the best spots. I would think, “What’s the big deal? If the person OWNS the place, he can park where he wants. The others work there.” Older and wiser, I grew to understand why my dad was upset. Sure the owner has the right to park wherever he wants. After all he does own the business, BUT who is making it possible for the owner to be in business? CUSTOMERS. Shouldn’t customers be able to park in the best spaces to allow convenient access to the business? Similarly, customers should not have to wait minutes to be served while staff members finish personal phone calls or conversations. Improperly packed bags, that spill or are difficult for a customer to carry, is another example of not putting your customer first. Privilege is something that belongs to your CUSTOMER. Never forget that without them, your parking lot would be empty, and you would have lots of time to make those personal phone calls.