There is a scene in the Tina Fey/Amy Pohler film “Sisters” that is hilarious. The scene takes place in the dressing room of a trendy shop where the eponymous sisters go shopping for dresses for a party they are hosting that night. They go to a boutique and try on a number of party dresses, but they are clearly clueless. Each dress the sisters put on is completely unflattering as they wear the dresses in all sorts of inappropriate ways.
The shop clerk watches them in deadpan horror and her face expresses what we are all thinking: each dress is worse than the next. The clerk, however, doesn’t help them put the dresses on correctly or offer them sizes that fit; rather, she says “that looks amaaaazing” in a completely flat tone. This character is the epitome of the lackluster clerk who clearly has been told to compliment the customers. No. Matter. What.
Service that is inauthentic, unhelpful or pushy is the stuff of horrible Yelp reviews and comedic movie scenes. But service doesn’t have to be like that. Businesses that take time to connect authentically to their customers will build a client for life. And businesses that ignore service in the sales moment are doing themselves great harm as sales are based on a human connection. Here are some easy ways to connect with your customers that will make the sisters of your business – service and sales – shine.
Establish Customer Quotas, Not Sales Quotas
Too many businesses focus on the number of sales rather than the number of customers. You must remember that customers make sales. Ask your salespeople to create relationships with every type of customer – not just the ones they already know.
Your regulars are your bread and butter, but first time customers are very valuable to your business as they are filled with potential: potential to be your best customer, your most loyal guest and your biggest fan. These are the customers you want to develop since they will sing your praises to everyone they know. Top businesses know that service isn’t about scoring a customer; it is about developing a repeat guest and taking time to understand his or her needs. Your customer, and his happiness, is what will make the sale each and every time.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Customer service experts always advise sales people to “listen to their customers.” But there are few people who really know how to listen well. Service is a conversation and asking questions will help inspire a sale faster than one-sided recommendations.
Questions that start with “how” or “what” are great ways to engage your guests. “How may I help you?” is a classic line as it is curious and open. Phrases like “tell me what you’re thinking of” or “what are you seeking in xyz product?” can help inspire a conversation that gives the salesperson real insight into a client’s preferences and expectations. This makes it easier to help them by narrowing down his needs and truly fulfilling their wishes.
Strive for Decency
Decency gets a bad rap. It is commonly equated to “average” or “standard” behavior. But decency has a power than must never be ignored. Decency in business is the urge to help someone when they need it whether it is opening a door for an arriving customer, helping a lady with her shopping bags or running after the gentleman who has left his credit card behind.
Asking your team members to show human decency is very much customer-centric as it puts the customer and his immediate needs first. True decency requires nothing in return. It is not barter. There is no expectation of reward or praise. Decency is a great way to wow your customers, as it is a little something extra, just when they need it and right when they least expect it.
Decency is easy to teach. Just ask your team to notice and act on what they see. I call this “I Notice = I Care” whereby the staff members notice their customer’s situation (that lady just dropped her glove) and offering a solution (picking up the glove and catching up with her to return it with a smile). This makes the guest feel cared for because your employee just noticed her specific situation, and noticing helps deepen the bond between the business and its customers.
Remember, service is the way we interact with customers and how we literally serve their needs. Sometimes the guest doesn’t need much at all from our business except a chance to browse the aisles, try on an outfit or linger at a café table. These are the guests you can engage with and develop so they keep your business front of mind for when they do require your goods or services. And that, is truly “amaaaazing.”
– Kate Edwards is a consultant, service expert, executive coach and author of Hello! And Every Little Thing That Matters; the customer service book that will transform your business (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
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