Do You Really Listen?

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!

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