Don’t turn customers away
Afew days ago, I gave a customer service session to the employees of a local toy store. Having seen in the news that ToysRUs is closing down and that many retailers are in trouble as a result of competition online, I was surprised to hear from the store owner that this year he has the largest inventory in the store’s history. However, as I talked with his staff about what they do in terms of customer service, the reason for his confidence became evident.
Yes, we gabbed about what makes great customer service, the challenges of offering impeccable customer service in the toy industry, how they engage their customers when they came into the store, and what they do to exceed customer expectations when it comes to service. However what struck me the most was how these employees felt like personally when they were able to give an incredible level of customer service.
One said “When I am able to get someone talking about the toys or games of their childhood and the positive memories that evokes, I see them smile and it feels so wonderful!”
Who knew that offering exceptional customer service would make the provider of that service feel as good as being on the receiving end? But what happens when customer service goes wrong?
Recently my friend Paul told me about an incident that happened to him. He went into a business to buy a quad.
“I had the money in my pocket, Dave, and I was ready to spend $8,000 of it on a brand new quad for heading out into the bush,” he said. “I knew the model I wanted, I had done my research and I was just going into the store to buy it.”
But when Paul got to the store, something went wrong. He told the sales person that he wanted to buy the quad, and then the sales person started talking.
“You don’t want those tires you need these ones. You should have this accessory and that accessory.”
To which Paul said “No thanks, I will just take the quad as it is.”
“But you really need these special tires, you have to have this accessory, nobody buys a quad without this...”
At which point Paul walked out. Perhaps the sales person was just trying to offer good customer service but the store lost an $8,000 sale and a customer. The sales person lost a commission and caused the business to lose face.
Paul did buy a quad. He bought it used and he got what he wanted for less money.
So what makes for great customer service? Customers are coming to your business to get something that creates value for them. This might be speed of service, quality of product, high level of service, delivery, ease of use or something else.
One customer might be expecting speed of service. They just want to purchase something quickly and leave. The next one might need some very detailed information about a game that no one else can possibly know.
When they receive that information, they will be happy. Another customer is coming in because something in the store reminds them of happy memories of bygone days.
There is a magic moment that happens when we are able to deliver that level of customer service that our customers want. Everyone wins. If we can understand what our customers expect from us, it is easier to meet those expectations, but we need to be able to communicate effectively. The salesperson who lost the sale when Paul walked out of the store without buying the quad, was unable to notice that Paul was getting agitated when they were talking and merely wanted to buy the product and leave. He didn’t want chit chat. Customer service is all about making a connection with our customers and building a relationship by giving them what they need in that moment.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is a professional small business strategist and coach. Dave is the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Reach him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.