Don’t turn cus­tomers away

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE -

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 dave@prof­i­ty­our­


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