I'm a Customer Service nut.
By that I mean I can't be part of a single buying or selling interaction without being highly attuned to the customer service I receive.
Here's a for instance. Currently I have a company car on lease which I have to exchange towards the end of the year. I'm very happy with my current car and would happily get the same thing again but it doesn't fit into the drive of the house I've just moved to so I'm in the market for something different. This means I've been making the rounds of various dealerships on my short-list.
Maybe it's because I'm in the customer service business, or maybe it's because I grew up with a father who was a car salesman or maybe my customer service radar is particularly sensitive, but man oh man, I have been continually taken aback by how poor some of the customer service I've received during this car-buying adventure. Here I am - a live customer who has to get a car by October.
I'm not window-shopping; I'm for-real shopping!
My father used to bang on and on about finding common ground with every customer who phoned or came in through the door. "Don't try to sell anyone anything until you've found that common ground," he used to say. He also said, "Never let anyone leave without getting their details."
The first two showrooms I went into, I felt I was infringing on the salesmen's time - one chap took me out to the car I was interested in, opened it and then left me on my own without telling me anything about it. The second one was finishing his lunch and every morsel of information I threw at him he managed to let drop to the floor never grabbing hold of a single one as it was clear he'd rather be eating than selling.
In each case I left the showrooms without anyone taking my contact info. They have no way to reel this fish in.
In great contrast, one dealership I went to not only took my details, showed me all the features of the car and made a follow-up call, they did that above and beyond thing. My husband was with me and commented on a rather impressive automobile logo which was printed on fabric; he made an off-hand comment that maybe he could get the details of the printer. The people who were there at the time said they didn't know but would find out.
And sure enough, first thing Monday morning we got a call with the printer's details.
Now that's what I call customer service.
What each experience said to me was that how I was treated when I walked in the door was how I would be treated from then on.
What are the customer service lessons here?
Find common ground and build on it. Common ground could be as anything from comments about the weather to where you're each going on your next holidays. Everyone except the most withheld person gives out clues that if you are attentive you can pick up on and 'run' with.
Do more than is expected. Like getting us the printer's details, there is always something extra you can do. What's that terrific axiom? Under promise and over deliver. Offer something before the customer asks for it. In a couple of showrooms I visited I had to ask for the brochures and in one, the salesman was so distracted and there was no obvious brochure display that I left without one.
It's all about relationships. If you develop trust early on that's the beginnings of establishing a relationship. The relationship is far more important than the sale. Going back to my dad, he not only built a loyal clientele who returned when they needed a new car, they introduced their children and grandchildren to him as the years went by when they needed cars. People liked and trusted my father because he made human connections rather than just going after the sale.
Customer Service is not difficult to do; if you don't like people, you're in the wrong business. If you do like people and would like to get better at it, there's loads you can do to develop your customer service skills.
Check out Impact Factory's Customer Service courses.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory