Posted: April 09, 2013
"If you aren't serving the customer you better be serving someone who is."
Karl Albrecht, author
When you look around your company or the places where you do business ... would you say that customer service has gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse in the last few years? Most people report that it has gotten worse. In fact, the research from Everson Consulting indicates that service levels have stayed about the same over the past many years. What has changed is the customers' "expectations". Customers expect more than ever.
To manage, satisfy, and even delight your customer expectations, implement the 4 P's.
Your look, your feel, your mood, your manner, your words, your office. What are you "telling" your customers?
John Milne, a customer service expert in Australia, gave one example ... an all-too-common example of unprofessional service. Milne told me about Barry, an award winning franchise owner in an Australian city, who went to a specialty shop to purchase some materials for his four franchises. Although there were eight staff in the shop and few other customers, Barry could not find anyone to welcome and serve him. Amazingly everyone was pre-occupied, one filing, one texting, and two chatting. After a few minutes he left, went to a competitor's shop and spent several hundred dollars. The ugly thing is not one employee realized the loss to the business that day and every day in the future ... the loss in revenue and reputation.
No matter how good or bad a customer might be, you still control you ... yourself ... and your attitude. You can be positive with any customer, even if the customer is wrong. And more often than not, your positive attitude will rub off on the customer making him or her easier to deal with.
When appropriate, even humor can be effective. It can catch a customer's attention, put a smile on his face, and help him remember you for a long time after your interaction.
You need to show the customer that he or she isn't just another impersonal number. You need to make your customer FEEL like he or she is the most important person in the world to you ... at the moment you're serving him or her.
Of course, if you're in the customer service business, you know that isn't always easy to do ... especially when many companies are expecting fewer people to do more work.
Milne talked about that when he explained John's situation when he visited one of Australia’s leading department stores to buy a new pair of shoes. John looked far and wide but couldn't find a salesperson to help him. So John called out, "Hello, anyone home?" An experienced salesman appeared in the distance with the promise of service in his eye and saved the day. He found the perfect shoes and shyly explained that staff cutbacks had gone so far that twelve people had been reduced to two. Nonetheless, during their time together, the salesperson made John feel like he was extremely important to him.
You can do the same thing. Instead of being a negative, whining customer service rep who thinks, "Oh no, there comes another customer, just when it's time for our break." you can be the service rep who makes every interaction with a customer FEEL personal.
As much as you might pride yourself on being a multi-tasker, the customer can sense if you're really "present" or have your head somewhere else. Simply put, you cannot be reading your e-mail while talking to a customer on the phone, and you cannot be thinking about your upcoming date with an exciting new man or woman while interacting with your customer. You've got to be "present" in mind and body.
You can't control your customer, but when you implement these 4 P's of extraordinary customer service, you'll create satisfied customers ... and perhaps delighted and loyal customers as well most of the time.
Rank order the four P's of customer service in your department from one to four, with one being the best. Which item ranked # four? What are you going to do about it?
©2013 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off. For more information on his programs ... or to receive your own free subscription to the 'Tuesday Tip' ... go to http://www.drzimmerman.com/ or call 800-621-7881.
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