Hank Darlington 2016-09-09 03:20:36
How to deliver great customer service We keep reading about how important it is to try to deliver exceptional customer service to the folks coming through your showroom doors. But, just what does “exceptional customer service” and “exceptional customer experiences” really mean? We do know that your showroom customers expect more and typically will pay a premium to have their expectations met and exceeded. We also know exceptional customer service will give you a competitive advantage, will help you deliver true value and will cultivate customer loyalty. I believe too many of you don’t understand that delivering excellent customer service is one of the key ingredients for repeat business and it’s that special personal relationship between one customer and one sales consultant that provides the link between customer satisfaction and customer referrals. The service delivered by your frontline sales consultants must be viewed as the first step in the journey for customer loyalty. A simple definition of exceptional customer service might be, “Exceptional customer service involves understanding the product and service being sold, going beyond customers’ expectations, fulfilling explicit and implied promises to customers, showing respect and interacting with customers outside the parameters of business transactions.” This exceptional customer service thing is very hard to measure because standards rise with each initiative or innovation designed and implemented by your competitors. What might have been exceptional or even acceptable three years ago might not be acceptable today. When I do a business management workshop I talk about how to make your business unique. I start by asking the audience, “How many people believe their business is truly unique?” Almost all the hands go up. I then ask, “What do you believe makes your business unique?” Almost everyone responds, “We give exceptional customer service.” I follow up by asking, “If everyone feels that they render exceptional customer service, I have to ask, “What’s really unique about that?” I don’t believe a majority of the DPH showrooms in America do deliver exceptional customer service. I believe it’s only mediocre at best! If you don’t agree with this statement, I would love to hear from you and compare observations. Here’s a challenge. Name three businesses (any kind of business) in your geographic area that in your opinion render truly exceptional customer service. Chances are you’re having a hard time even coming up with one or two. Why is it so hard to achieve this thing I’m calling exceptional customer service? First, by its very nature, the relationship is onesided — the customer has all the power. Second, the customer has more choices today than at any other time in consumer history. Not only do customers have more choices locally, but the Internet has given them nearly infinite choices globally. The consumer is no longer shopping at only local stores. Third, with the rise of social media, customer service metrics are transparent and universally available — often in real time. A bad review or negative comment posted online will echo in the halls of cyberspace for months, if not years. ELEVEN OUTCOMES For these reasons and others, exceptional customer service is more important than ever before. Here is what you might expect to happen when you ramp up your customer service. The result of rendering exceptional service can be any combination or all of the following: 1. Happier clients; 2. More loyalty, which means more sales from existing customers; 3. Higher sales per transaction; 4. Word -of-mouth referrals from happy customers who become your evangelists; 5. Happier employees; 6. A customer-service-focused company usually also is employee-focused; 7. Lower employee turnover; 8. Price becomes less important; 9. Sets you ahead of competitors who may have similar products and pricing, but offer a lower level of service; 10. Your reputation. People will want to buy from you and work for you; and 11. More sales at a higher margin, which means more money to the bottom line. I hope that you would want each of these things to take place at your showroom. Now let’s talk about how you might make this happen. Here is a list of tips/keys on how you can help make exceptional customer service happen at your business: ■ Manage first impressions. They set the tone. This would include your advertising, website, social media, your location, hours of operation, selection of products, showroom layout, how sales consultants dress and the first impressions they present. ■ Manage last impressions. This includes how you follow up the sale with thank-you notes, gifts, emails, satisfaction surveys, etc. ■ Always be on time for appointments, quotes, delivering the product, handling problems, etc. ■ Always smile. It’s better th an a frown or an expression o f apathy. Look like you’re really pleased the client has come to visit your showroom. ■ Always be accountable. Except responsibility and don’t blame others. Don’t pass the buck. ■ If a problem comes your way, own it! ■ Show up early. ■ Stay late! ■ Be proactive. Make things happen. ■ Be a great rapport builder. ■ Aim for perfection, even if it’s not realistic! ■ Return calls, texts and emails immediately. ■ Be enthusiastic! It’s contagious with clients and coworkers! ■ Care! Don’t just act like you care, really care! ■ Show appreciation to your clients. Thanking customers in a meaningful, sincere and thoughtful manner on every customer encounter shows you care and appreciate their business. ■ Managers and the showroom team must develop an exceptional customer service strategy. ■ Communicate this strategy to the whole team. Set the bar high and make customer service the key principle of your showroom. ■ Hire the right people. Look for good attitudes and smiles. Hire for attitude and train for skills. ■ Create a culture whereby your associates are treated as family and they will, in turn, treat your customers the same way. ■ Make sure you thank and acknowledge your employees and reward them appropriately. ■ Think about customer needs before they do. Exceptional customer service means knowing the people who buy from you and why they do so. ■ Train your employees. Don’t assume employees understand your expectations when it comes to greeting clients, answering the phone and dealing with customer complaints. Be specific in how you expect them to treat the people who do business with you and monitor them until you’re sure they have it right. ■ Be accessible. When customers have questions or problems (opportunities) they want to be able to speak with a human being quickly. Don’t make them go through layers of voicemail or wait long for a response or resolution. ■ Solicit and review feedback. The best way to know whether your customers are happy (really happy) is to find ways to solicit their feedback. Once you get it, review it and address it. So there you have it! A couple-dozen quick and easy tips. Circle the ones you like. Take them to your team and discuss. I would suggest you only focus on one or two tips at a time. Once you’ve mastered these, move on to the next one or two. We should all know that exceptional customer service is the key to winning the hearts, souls and wallets o f your customer base. Having a memorable experience is what your customers want. I’m asking you, what could you do differently or better to improve the service you provide to your clients? Good selling! Hank Darlington, owner of Darlington Consulting, is a 2004 NKBA Hall of Fame inductee. He can be reached at 916/852-6855 or darlingtonconsulting@ gmail.com.
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