Everyone is on your payroll to support your customer regardless of his or her title. Several years ago, I wrote a book titled Listen Up, Customer Service. In researching for that book, I discovered the top ten sales and customer service requirements from the customer’s perspective:
- Treat me with respect. I am a customer, not an account number.
- Follow through on your commitments.
- Communicate with me about both the good and the bad.
- Talk to me without interruption.
- Answer my questions quickly … and get back to me when you say you will.
- Provide alternatives when we have a problem.
- Allow me to talk to someone in authority when there is a problem.
- Clearly state what I should expect from you.
- Be an expert about your products and services.
- Be a customer advocate.
People buy from people they enjoy being around. Your company image is important to hitting your customer’s emotions but if your customer has a bad connection with a person somewhere along the way, they will not come back.
It is my belief and observation that a few simple things separate the most successful businesses from the ones who are not able to survive in today’s competitive marketplace. Regardless of the economic condition, location, or past history, you have to have to answer these four questions – from your customer’s perspective for your long-term success:
- What does your customer see?
Every transaction involves connections. The connection could be over the phone, website, or in person. Your customers are judging your business by the connection that they personally make. If your customer is buying, they are buying from a positive connection that they have made. If they chose to go to a competitor, it is probably because a positive connection was not made. So, the basic question is “What do your connections look like?” Typically, people buy simplicity, expertise and value. How easy is it for them to spend money with your company? Is your staff trained to be an expert in all areas of your business? Are you offering a positive value for your company?
- What emotions does your customer feel?
People buy from people. The people working for your company are your customer’s most important connection. Customers judge your company based on the attitude of everyone they deal with – the receptionist, sales person, and even the person delivering the product contribute to a positive or negative emotion from the customer. If any person has a sour attitude, or doesn’t care about the customer, this will spoil the whole experience for your customer. People want to deal with nice, friendly, helpful people. Rarely will a customer return to do business with unpleasant people.
- What happens when things don’t go as planned?
Your business is based on trust. When you lose a customer’s trust, there is really no basis for continuing a business relationship. Of course there are times when there is a misunderstanding or maybe someone just dropped the ball. That is a great opportunity for you! When customers have an issue or misunderstanding, more than any other time, is your opportunity to develop a bonded relationship with them. You can work through any issue and you do not have to “lose” every misunderstanding. Treat your customer with respect, uphold his dignity, and offer a reasonable solution. If you maintain an attitude of “we can work this out” most customers will work with you and be glad to come back for more business. If you lose their trust, you will probably never see them again.
- What are your customers going to talk about?
Customers talk. They talk about bad experiences of course but they will also talk about good things that happen unexpectedly. They enjoy positive surprises. It does not have to be anything big, just a little something. Many people’s most memorable experiences, good and bad, are something that happened randomly and unexpected. Make it part of your strategy to create a positive surprise – little things count. In the Cajun country, they call it lagniappe – a little something extra. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a little something over and above his or her expectations? Who doesn’t appreciate a little extra help? The rule of reciprocity is: When you add a little something extra to make your customer’s experience enjoyable, they will spend more money with you. Try it.