Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005
We all want great service, whether we are buying our weekly groceries from a store, or want a billing hitch resolved at our local utilities provider. Whether it's getting our car fixed, or a great meal in a restaurant. So we can holler and complain about how poor customer service and satisfaction has become - or we can do something about it ourselves, when we have those one-to-one opportunities with a real person.
1. Be positive and confident
Busy sales staff are under pressure and they like to deal with people who are clear and know what they want - then they can get on with their next customer! So perk up, do your homework and have everything ready and clear.
2. Smile - a little!
By adopting a positive demeanour, making eye contact and being friendly, you will be one in twenty who is. Don't try it too much, or that will irritate too, but just nice, friendly and a little smiley will work wonders!
3. Don't Use Their Name
This will vary culturally. In the UK, sales people don't like to be called by their name at all. So be careful - if you know it fits wherever you live and shop, then fine - but observe and notice what is going to work and stick to it.
4. Ask for help
Use the words 'I wonder if you can help me' and then be clear about what you want. This links in with their emotions - ('someone needs me'!) - which is very powerful relationship-building for you
As you give clear information about what you need from them, make positive and supportive movements and sounds that encourage them onwards. This builds rapport and makes a relationship much more likely to happen. Because people like to help, the feedback indicates that is what they are doing and...they will like you - one more step forwards in getting what you want.
6. Ask Something Else
When they are answering your questions, ask them, once or twice, a little more about what they have told you. This shows that you have been listening and value their information. This powerfully builds the bond even more between you!
7. Open and Closed
By asking some open (what, how, why, where, when, which) and some closed questions (those which only need a 'yes' or a 'no'), you will vary the pressure they feel under. Being able to say 'yes' or 'no', as well as giving you lots of information, means that they get a few breaks and don't feel quite so 'interrogated'.
8. Say Thank You
At the end of their answers, whether you have reached a satisfactory conclusion or not, thank them for their help - make them feel valued.
It's great to invest time in spending a little time in 'chat' mode with your sales person. If they have time - you have to judge from their manner, whether they are in the mood to spend time with you. It varies from person to person, time of day and location. But it's worth being aware of.
10. Part Well
At the very end of the transaction, make sure that you add a smiley 'thank you' to the mix. Selling stuff all day is tough in itself, without all the extra clutter that sales people have to do for their organisation. So by 'making their day' you will be creating a relationship which will be valuable to you for years to come.
11. And For Exceptional Cases
Make sure that you are aware of their name, and write and tell their boss - better, their head office. This may or may not do you any financial benefit, but hey, it sure will make you feel great that you have 'made someone's day' by telling the rest of their organisation about them!
Being smart as a customer can get you benefits that you never expected. Being an awkward, 'clever' or downright obnoxious customer will never help you. By using these tips, you will receive more than you might expect, not every time maybe, but sometimes - and that has got to be a win.
About the Author
Martin Haworth, for a long time was a retailer and now is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, (http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com). For the advice Martin shares with businesses on Customer Service, checkout the 'Customer' pages. (Note to editors. Feel free to use this article, wherever you think it might be of value - it would be good if you could include a live link)