Despite all the hype around technology, people are still “human”. They still want to feel important. They still want to be heard. Based on 30 years in the trenches, here’s my 10-point list of great customer service to boost your sales, expand your career and grow your business.
Use your Personality
I will never forget a place called “Ooh La La”. This small restaurant was packed every night for one reason and one reason only: the owner’s personality. He would come up to each and every table and show patrons just how happy he was to see them. He would complement, joke, smile, engage and he was getting rich in the process. The key here is to be sincere – just be yourself.
Be yourself and converse, not pitch.
Always Get Back to People
Nothing will destroy a business relationship faster – or a friendship, for that matter – than not getting back to people. It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, my Internet Service Provider always responds to my queries quickly.
Be there for your clients.
Make People Feel Special
One day when my friend Mike and I were brainstorming about expanding his moving company, we came up with the idea of leaving behind a nice bouquet of flowers after each moving job. His clients loved it, nice touch. The idea was born from recalling how impressed we were with the local garage always cleaning the inside of our cars, even though we never asked for it. The key here is to not tell clients in advance that you’re going to provide that extra something – just do it. And watch their reaction.
Unexpectedly, and pleasantly, surprise clients.
Respect People’s Time
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Today, people value their time as much as money, if not more so. I love staying at the Prince Hotel when I visit Toronto. The rooms are the same as every other hotel, but I can check in and out in under a minute – even when there’s a line-up. Once I am out of the hotel and on Toronto’s massive highways, I am greeted by digital signs telling me how much time it will take to get to the next exit.
Let people know how long things will take so they can plan. Save people time so they can get on with their life.
Use People’s Name
I have friends who never bother to use my name. It bugs me. I like hearing my name. My first name especially. We all do. The lady who runs the bakery down the street greets me by name every week. I won’t go to any other place because of that. (The muffins are good too). The key here is not to come across as condescending by using a first name too often or too quick. The best approach is to first ask for permission: “May I use your first name?”.
Remember and use names.
Look Out For Clients’ Money
A year ago, a crack appeared in my front windshield. It got bigger and bigger to the point where I could no longer see to drive my car. When phoning repair shops, only one of them told me that the cost of the repairs could be paid by my insurance company. Even though that would have been the case at every place, I went with the shop that told me that.
Reveal every opportunity that saves money for customers.
Be the Go-to-Person
I have a contractor who specializes in one aspect of IT. He admits that he doesn’t know it all, but rather than saying to me, “I can’t do that” he says “I can’t do that but I know someone who does.” This contractor is my go-to-person. I trust him to help me build my network and as a result, he’s become essential.
If you can’t help, find out who can.
Compete on Value
Having a competitive price is important. But if you can add value on top of that, you have a killer combination. That’s the approach used by B and H, a well-known audio-video supplier in New York. When this company packs something to send to your door, they pack it so well, there is no way your new camera will be damaged. (In fact, you’ll be lucky to find it in the box). That’s value. It’s peace of mind. They have good prices and high value. Their customers are as loyal as they get.
Good pricing AND good value equals good sales.
Be Honest About What is NOT Possible
Any time you go to a business and they explain what they cannot do for you, you know you’re dealing with an honest establishment. Satisfaction is about managing expectations. If you cannot do something, or won’t do it, explain why – and especially why it’s in the best interest of the client. People often want things without thinking it through. You’re the expert. Be sure to let people know the down side of things. Doing this provides credibility. If you say yes to everything, and tell clients everything will be just perfect – most will get an uneasy feeling. Everybody knows that nothing is perfect in this world.
Be an expert on what cannot be done, as well as what can be done.
Listen First, then Recommend
I fired one of my investment advisers because he never listened to me. Each meeting started with his views on the market or information on new investment products. I found myself always being interrupted. My concerns were never addressed. The best way to help people is to listen first, then recommend appropriate solutions. Not the other way around. Never assume you know what people are thinking or what they want. (You’ll be wrong 90% of the time).
Creating an environment that attracts sales is not complicated. It’s about understanding people and treating them the way you’d like to be treated. It sounds simple, and it is.
But it’s rare. That’s why you’ll stand out from the crowd and reap the financial rewards.