I was chatting recently with a fellow advocate of customer service excellence – the lovely Paul Warner of When I Was a Kid (a great traditional and wooden toy company) about what makes people fantastic at providing customer service, and why so many sadly fail. Paul is perfectly qualified to have such an opinion – his toy shop has won awards for customer service and recently Paul appeared as subject matter in an article in the Guardian about providing random acts for kindness for customers! He really does always go the extra mile for customers (and people in general, they don’t even need to be customers to be on the receiving end of kind act from Paul or a member of his team!).
I’m always talking to my clients about putting yourself in the customers shoes – trying to see what your customers are experiencing from their view point – it can be a bit tricky and we can only guess, as of course we are all hard-wired with our own personalities and life experiences. However only if we try to see from another’s prospective can we have the chance to make the experience the best it can be for them (and not us!).
Paul, myself and many of you who like and get ‘people’ will find that this sort of thing comes very easily – it’s a natural way for you to behave – an inherent part of your personality. In fact, Paul and I went on to define customer service as pure common sense. It is so obvious to you what the other person wants, needs or would like, that you just know what to do or say to make them feel that they are special and you really care! Well maybe the ‘common sense’ tag comes from being a natural at this sort of thing – as thinking more deeply about this subject, it is definitely common sense, but also about being incredibly emotionally intelligent too.
The article in the Guardian went on to expand about the importance of customer service in today’s business arena – it really is so vital as business owners that you get fantastic at providing excellent service for your customers or they will go elsewhere. You must create a relationship with them and a reason to stay with you. Getting customers to buy on price alone will just put you out of business in the end – it’s a fact.
So are you a business owner with oodles of common sense and deeply emotionally intelligent? Time to look in the mirror and be really honest here. If not, find someone in your organisation who is, and put them in charge of relationships with your customers and watch how they fly (and do wonders for your business too)!
If you need any help identifying your customer service stars, please get in contact – I can help you spot and develop the right person to make customer experience a huge success for your organisation. You know it makes sense!
This simple post on my facebook page this week got the most likes:
“Creating WOW is not always doing something snazzy or delivering free gifts – the simple things really matter like listening, smiling and caring – solving a problem for someone makes a big difference and shows you heard them and you cared enough to help.”
Many people agreed with this sentiment – and actually what you are often giving people in this scenario is the most precious gift of all – your time! It’s so important for you to understand the problems your customers and clients are facing – as once you understand this, you can make efforts to help. It doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to be expert in everything, you might be able to recommend an article, a website, an expert or a friend who can help. Sometimes it’s just simply listening that helps – so that the other person can share, air and hopefully feel better or start to find a solution themselves.
While everyone will appreciate the WOW gesture – the bottle of fizz or the lovely bunch of flowers – the gesture that truly helps fix some problems or issues is the one that will be remembered for far longer. And just to prove my point, I was once talking to someone at the Entrepreneur’s Circle about how I had too much to get done, and a couple of days later a copy of Dan Kennedy’s No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs fell through my letterbox. It was a great read, it sits on my bedside table to remind me all that I learnt from reading it and of course where it came from 🙂
In my chocolate workshop business, I take a lot of bookings for hen parties!
Now, I can just imagine the imagery this is conjuring up for you right now, excited girls out to have lots of fun, be a little wild perhaps and maybe make something ‘naughty’ in chocolate. But let’s take a moment to step back and put ourselves in the shoes of our customers…….
The person contacting me regarding the booking of a chocolate hen party is often the best friend, relative or even the bride-to-be herself. She is not thinking, “whoop, whoop I’m already at the party”, she is really concerned that all her close friends have a really good time, that in the lead up to the wedding absolutely nothing goes wrong, everything is as perfect as can be. It’s really important that someone understands the level of nerves and stress connected with organising a wedding and related events, and that someone really cares about making it very special!
So my first objective is to make the booking process as smooth and easy as possible. I reiterate how much I care about making the party really magical for them, and how much I enjoy welcoming everyone on such occasions – really reassuring the person that they don’t have to worry, I will do my utmost to give them a really good time. They often have demands that I can’t meet, but I don’t bombard them with the things I can’t do for them, but gently suggest alternatives for them without compromising what they want to achieve. Don’t make it their problem – solve problems for them! I also show testimonials from other hen’s that have enjoyed the experience just to reinforce that feeling of security. Get in the spirit of the celebration and really understand what you would want if you were in their shoes……
Oh and by the way, I’ve not yet been asked to supply anything rude in chocolate – my parties tend to be the event that the mother and future mother-in-law are invited along to (with some serious late-night partying later at the nightclub for some, once the mums have gone home with their lovely bags of chocolates 🙂 )