Impressing Your Customers - Proper Etiquette for Customer Service

In today's competitive climate, those of us in the service industry continue to improve on our customer service #techniques. "Exceed Expectations," "WOW Them," "Create Value," "Offer Additional Services," "Find out what they want and then tailor your presentation to their needs." We've all heard these great buzz phrases that motivate us to win over our #customers. But isn't there one simple piece left out of the puzzle? One single thing that, without it, the purpose of our efforts are as transparent as glass?

You can and most likely will be a good service provider if you do all of the things mentioned above. If you follow all of the traditional methods taught by the best in our business, you will succeed and you will earn your bonus and pay raises. But if you want to be the best and stand alone in the huge field of competition, you will "Get the Feeling." You will truly care about your customers and show it.

That's the secret. To be the best at customer service today, we must really mean what we say, feel it and show it. I'm not referring to the "Stand up and greet your customer when they enter your office". I'm talking about imagining that the person walking in your office is your best friend or your favorite relative and they need help. How would you treat them then? Wouldn't you stand up, say hello in the warmest way and really mean it when you say, "How Can I Help You?" Isn't that what really makes people feel good? Isn't that what makes people relax and trust you? It's not the pleasing aroma of your freshly baked cookies or the soft music in the background. Those things are only props in the grand production we call creating an optimal atmosphere. A play with beautiful props, a gorgeous theatre and good-looking actors only entices people to see the show. Whether a director or producer has consistent future success is measured by the performance of the actors; are they convincing or not? Specifically, if an actor who doesn't "live" the part and doesn't believe in what he or she is doing, the audience will see through the actor and doubtfully pay to see a show with the same actors or director again.

When you have broken through the barrier of building rapport, which in it's purest form is what I have described above, you will have a different perspective on dealing with customer concerns and the ever-important follow-up. When a customer brings a concern to your attention, you instantly take it personally, feeling badly that they are uncomfortable. You take a personal stake in making certain their needs are satisfied because they are as important as your best friend, right? If you truly feel this way, exhibit with facial expressions and body language how concerned you are with their needs, they will more likely trust you and believe you will help them. For example, in many cases when a customer approaches the manager about a noisy neighbor, we handle it in a similar way. We invite them in our office, listen to their concern and then ask them to put it in writing so we have a paper trail. We then send a letter to the alleged noisy neighbor and hope the problem stops. Many of us also follow up with the concerned customer a few days after the letter was sent out.

When you really have the customer service "feeling", you will go further and use the same amount of time and energy. First, you will take notes of the events while your customer describes them and get a signature at the bottom of the notes to confirm. Then, you will show them how you feel. You will put yourself in their shoes and describe how this concern would affect you too. You would get to know at least two things about them personally to 1) change the subject to lighten the air for a moment and 2) be able to refer back to these aspects of your customer later to make them feel really special since you remembered such things about them. You earn almost instant trust and remove that fear many customers have which we, on the other side of the desk, cannot relate to as they come into "The Manager's Office" to make a "complaint". You must truly want to help your customers and build on that feeling. Once acquired, your customers instantly feel your sincerity and trust you. Can't you see this scenario in front of you; and how making this enhancement to your already good service skills will set you apart from the rest? I can.

Excellent customer service is not a skill you learn. It's the result of wanting to help someone. Try it, you'll feel a renewed freedom in your job and personal satisfaction that at the end of the day, you didn't just do your job, you helped someone who trusted you. And that feels good.

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