Creating relationships and adding value to the lives of our customers are the main factors that lead to sales and a better bottom line. So what do today’s consumers need in order to develop trust with business owners and keep coming back? Check out these three secrets to customer service success.
Customer Service Tip #1: Understand fault versus problem.
When considering customer service, it’s always better to take a proactive stance. But team members will sometimes find themselves on the reactive end of issues. It’s essential to help them know that problem-solving at the moment can lead to a better experience for all.
I love Winston Churchill’s quote, “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Something goes awry, and it isn’t the team member’s fault. They didn’t cause the situation that is causing the customer to feel upset. But because the customer is upset, it becomes the team member’s problem to solve.
A great example is the parking lots at Disney World. There are literally thousands of parking spaces, and customers walk around the parks all day with their children and inevitably forget where they parked. They’re tired, their kids are tired, and everyone just wants to go home. But they have no idea where they parked. It isn’t a team member’s fault, but it allowed one savvy team member to solve the problem.
One day, a train operator had a brainstorm. Every ten minutes, he wrote down what lot and row he was in, so he had a timelog of where he picked up passengers throughout the day. As a result, when parents weren’t able to find their cars at the end of the day, all they had to do was show the ticket to the train operator. He could tell where they parked by the timestamp on their ticket!
Was it the train operator’s fault that Disney customers kept losing their cars? No, but he made it his problem and added value as a result.
Customer Service Tip #2: Tune in to your customer.
It’s all about the customer, after all. Be observant and listen to the message behind their words. There could be a difference between what they’re looking for and what makes sense for their needs. Remember, you are the experts ready to add value to their day.
Think about yourself as a customer.
- How do you expect the team member to react when you have a complaint?
- Do your best to listen to the complaint and determine how to help. Always do your best to remain calm.
- Do you need some time to browse, or do you want someone to help you immediately?
- Does the customer immediately make eye contact? If so, they may appreciate your attention right away versus someone who walks in and slowly begins to browse.
When getting ready to make a significant purchase, a customer may need your expertise but may not understand what questions they should ask. When this is the case, jump to customer service tip number three!
Customer Service Tip #3: Ask probing questions.
We’ve all heard the phrase the customer is always right. But what if they don’t know what they don’t know? How can team members guide the customers to the right purchase by seeing each moment as an opportunity to help a customer find exactly what they need?
When a customer walks into a brick-and-mortar store, they may have an idea of what they’d like to purchase. But many times, they don’t know what they don’t know. So instead of asking the overused, “Can I help you?” to which they most often reply, “No thanks, just looking,” it’s better to ask a set of questions that guides them to the purchase they didn’t know they wanted to make.
The last time I purchased a television, I had a great experience due to the team member’s probing questions. I went to a couple of stores, and I had no idea what I wanted. I ended up in a local store where they asked me great questions:
- How big is the room you want to put the TV in?
- What do you watch on TV?
- What else do you use your TV for? Games?
Due to the experience, I came home with a new TV with surround sound and an appointment for them to come and set it up. It cost much more than I expected to pay, but I was happy with the whole piece, and it was because somebody asked me questions that helped pull out what I wanted.
A cornerstone to success in any business is your customers (especially your repeat customers). Become a problem-solver, a keen observer, and ask the right questions. And just like that, you’ve built trust and a new working relationship by adding value to your customers’ experience.