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Posted by on in Customer Service

When we’re talking about exceptional customer experiences, a banana certainly can.


 FullSizeRender1I dined at Parker’s tonight (yes, they invented the Parker House Roll) in the Omni Parker House in Boston. The service was perfect, the food, chosen from the pre-theatre menu was delicious. They even served me mixed berries instead of a dessert from their menu and packed it up for me to go.
 
Everything met my expectations for a fine dining experience and I was completely satisfied, but, truthfully, as much as I enjoyed it, it was not an experience I would write about.
 
However when I was walking out with the berries in hand the whole evening changed. Michael, the maître d, stopped and chatted with me for a minute. He noticed the fruit and asked, “Would you like a banana with that?” Well, as it turns out, I did. So Michael went to the kitchen and came back with a banana and a bottle of water. He remarked that bananas are a perfect fruit—no need for silverware!
 
I’m not sure if bananas are the perfect fruit, but Michael was the perfect maitre d. He found an opportunity to surprise and delight. I won’t soon forget the kindness he showed me.
 
I often say, “Exceptional customer service is created through small acts of personal kindness.” Michael understood this and achieved it through the gift of a banana.
 
How can you delight your customer? What is “the banana” that will surprise and delight them? Make sure you give a little extra so that your customers will talk about your great service.

Posted by on in Customer Service

 

no robots please small Standing at the front of the line at my city’s office to pay my property taxes. Next to me at the counter was a man who was also paying his property taxes. The woman behind the counter working with him had her nose buried in her computer. He said to her “My mother just died and I have her house. I will need to pay her taxes also.”

 As you picture this scene, what do you imagine the city worker said in response?

 “Oh my, I am so sorry to hear that.”, or, “I lost my mother last year, it was really hard for me”, or “I hope you are okay.”

 If you thought she offered any of those kind, thoughtful expressions, you would be wrong.  She never even looked up from the computer. She merely said “Well there will be other paper work you will need to fill out.”

 The man who had just lost his mother looked shell shocked by her lack of human kindness. Not only was this lacking in basic humanity, it demonstrates what is lacking in customer service today.

The secret to great customer service is “be a human.” There are many ways to “be a human.” When you are a human rather than a worker drone you have the opportunity to connect with your customer. You may want to notice when a  customer mentions something personal.  All you need to do is pay attention and respond appropriately. Our customers drop information at our feet and all we need to do is pick it up and respond. Consider these examples:

A customer says, “My dog chewed up my bill, I will need another.” You might respond, “What kind of dog do you have?”

A customer says “ I have to go pick up my daughter at dance class after this.” You might respond, “What kind of dance does she do?”

A customer says, “The traffic is terrible out there. It took me twenty minutes to get here” You might respond, “I know the traffic just seems to get worse and worse these days.”

Great customer service comes from small acts of kindness.

Remember, all it takes is to “be a human”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Recently a video appeared showing Cameron Dietrich, a diver, helping a Sea Turtle get free from a fishing line. The turtle immediately swam away once freed. Moments later the turtle returned as if to say thank you to the diver that helped him.

It made me start wondering: why aren’t we as good at saying thanks as that sea turtle?

My guess is that we have many good reasons why we don’t say thank you as regularly as we could: “I don’t have the time”, “I don’t know when to say thanks”, “I don’t know how to say thanks”, and so on.

Here are some ideas to help you understand more about thanking people:

Why is it important to say thank you?

There are four big reasons to say thanks:

  1. Because your mother told you to.
  2. Because people like to be appreciated.
  3. Because it conveys a sense of respect
  4. Because saying thank you allows us to stop and appreciate the kindness of others.

Who should you say thank you to:

  • Your current customers
  • Your potential customers
  • Your employees
  • Your fellow employee
  • Your family, friends and kind strangers

What to say:

The folks at The Thank You People website has an awesome list of words you can use to say thanks—and many thanks to them for this helpful information:

Here are a few of their tips:

  • Thank you for your time. It's something we never take for granted.
  • We appreciate your time and attention.
  • Thanks for stopping by. We appreciate your interest in our business.
  • We enjoyed sharing ideas and business opportunities with you

When to say it:

  • When someone contacts you or visits your business
  • When someone purchases your products or services
  • When someone went above or beyond
  • And make sure it is as timely as possible.

How

  • Say “thank you” in person on the phone
  • Write an email that says thanks
  • Write thank you on a bill or receipt
  • Write thank you on a door hanger
  • And the BEST way to say “Thank you” is to hand write a thank you card or thank you postcardAnd thank you in advance for sharing this with others.

And of course, thank YOU for reading this. If you have other great ideas around saying thank you, let me know.

Posted by on in Uncategorized

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”said George MacDonald, the Scottish Novelist.

We all know that trust is essential in sales. But, often, trust feels like something that is hard to earn or quantify. In the bookThe Trusted Advisor,Green, Maister and Galford, found a way to deconstruct how to instill a feeling of trust with clients and customers.

Here is their trust equation:

< Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
Self Interest >

In other words, the more credibility, reliability and intimacy is established, and the lower the perception of self interest, the more your clients and customers will trust you.

Let’s break this equation down so that we can really understand what we need to do to earn the trust of our clients and customers.

Credibility
In order to be perceived as “credible” you need to consider how you communicate.

Visual:
We form impressions very quickly and they tend to last. What would be the first words that a customer might use to describe you simply because of how you look? Are you dressed and groomed appropriately for the job you do?

Vocal:
Do you end your sentences with a rising voice? If you do, you will sound as if you are asking a question, undermining your sense of credibility. Imitate how newscasters commonly speak by dropping your chin at the end of each sentence. It will make your voice sound more credible.

Verbal:
Do you share your expertise through writing blogs, articles or newsletters? Does your LinkedIn profile have recommendations from current and former clients? Are you active in social media? Do your tweets share your knowledge with the world?

Reliability
This one is simple. Do what you say you are going to do. Show up early for meetings. Send information when you say you will. Follow through on commitments.

Intimacy
This is really the most emotionally based component of the equation. Intimacy is about the level of safety a client or customer feels about sharing important information, and, how transparent you are in your communications with them. Asking how an issue or decision might impact a client or customer personally is one way to start building professional intimacy.

Even if you are extremely credible, 100% reliable, and have professional intimacy, when a client or customer feels that your recommendation will benefit you more than it will them, you will still not be trusted.

This means that you must always focus on what is best for your client or customer. The more your recommendations or solutions are client-focused, not you-focused, the more likely you will earn someone’s trust. The goal should be to become a trusted advisor. Sales people sell, but trusted advisors help people make buying decisions.

All this means that you need to STOP SELLING. Remember, as Jeffrey says “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” Follow this trust equation to help your client or customer consider you a trusted advisor and improve your performance, and ultimately, your bottom line.

as-you-wish“Do onto others as you would have others do unto you.” That’s the Golden Rule. Seems like an unarguable truth for customer service. In fact, when I am helping people improve their customer service, I frequently hear this quote as an example of how to provide great customer service.

In reality, if applied verbatim, the Golden Rule can kill great customer service.

Think about it from your own perspective. Do you REALLY want people to treat you the way THEY want to be treated? Most likely, not. For instance, if I was treating you the way I want to be treated, you might get a big hug from me and be followed around and chatted you up until you leave. (Which for some of you would be sooner rather than later, I imagine.)

If my husband was providing the Golden Rule, he might ignore you until you asked him a direct question. Again, this would work for some of you but certainly not all.

The Golden Rule is somewhat self-centered. It assumes that the way YOU want to be treated is THE way to provide great customer service for everybody. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, because as humans we are so very different from each other in style and preference.

Tony Allesandra has it right. He created the Platinum Rule "Treat others the way they want to be treated."

This outward focused philosophy guarantees great customer service by making each customer interaction uniquely personal.

Here are some personal differences you should consider:

Pace. Is the person someone who needs time to process, or are they quick to respond?

Task or Relationship Based. Does your customer want to spend time chatting about the weather or do they want to get right down to business?

Eye Contact. Does your customer prefer eye contact or do they avoid it? If they don’t like eye contact don’t stare at them with the hope they will suddenly start giving it back.

Body Language. Does your customer have their arms folded or is their body language open?

Proximity. Is your customer a “close talker” or do they keep their distance?

There are millions of ways that we are different from one another. Make it a goal to minimize the differences between our customer’s preferences and our own. Sometimes I get the pushback “I don’t want to be a phoney.” Think of becoming a Communication Chameleon. Chameleons match their surroundings without becoming a different animal. You can dial your style up or down to match your customer without being untrue to yourself.

The more you live the Platinum Rule "Treat others the way they want to be treated," the better service you will provide. Being observant and modifying your behavior to match your customer will ensure your customer perceives that they have gotten great service. Start using the Platinum Rule today.

 

blog-giftRecently I decided that I no longer wanted to pay for a service that I felt was overpriced and I also under utilized. When I called the business to end my contract with them they asked "Would you be willing to stay if we could give you a lower price option?"

Now, this might have been a welcome offer, but instead I found myself getting angry. This business tracks usage so I know that they knew I was under utilizing their product. They also knew that they could serve me more affordably  with a different package. In my mind they were taking advantage of my not knowing all the options that were available to me. I didn't take their offer. I stopped doing business with them totally and I will not go back. Perhaps it makes good "business sense" if you remember that they made a lot of money off me for five years. But whatever "extra" they made off of my ignorance, they lost my business in the future and maybe more importantly my good will.

Compare this to Sprint. I have a Sprint Card that I only use sporadically. It too was expensive. I was thinking do I even need this anymore? But before I cancelled I got a card from them that explained that I might be eligible for a lower rate. As it turns out it was about 1/3 the cost. I felt that Sprint was looking out for my best interest. I jumped at the lower rate.

Interestingly enough, I still barely use it, but I feel so loyal to Sprint that I will keep it. I felt that Sprint was being loyal to me and I wanted to return the favor.

Could you be saving your customer money? If so, do you let them know about it? Let me be clear I don't mean the "We can save you money if you buy or phone service along with our cable internet and tv." I mean I looked at your account and I see ways that I can save you money.

Think of it this way:

When you save your customer money you often save your customer.

Posted by on in Customer Service

As you greet your next customer, remember that 2012 is going to be the year of the customer. What does that mean to you? It means that now, more than ever, you will need to do everything you can to make sure your customer is happy. We will share tips and techniques on how to make sure that you win and keep your customers.

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