by Joshua Luke
Whichever industry or sector you are working in, the ability to satisfy the service expectations your customers have when you serve them is a highly significant factor in winning your customers over. Whether you are a head of a team leading a group of staff, an entrepreneur running your own business, or even a professional in your field carrying out your daily work, customer service whether external or internal is none other than satisfying your customers’ objectives. This means that serving and proposing the most optimal solutions for them within the perimeter of your business guidelines has become the ultimately goal in achieving customer satisfaction and thus service excellence.
1. Having the Best Interests for the Customers: Finding the Balance
The ability to bring and win your customers over to your side is no easy feat. To get them to trust you, you must win them over by letting them know you really have their best interests at heart. Some options can be good for your business or your company. However, these may not be the best options for your customers at the moment. Likewise, a few solutions may be good for the customers, but not for your organisation. Strive to propose solutions that are both excellent for the customers and your work, business and/or corporation. In the studies of neuro-linguistic programming, the element with the most flexibility exerts the most influence in any system. So, strive to come up with a creative solution that can be a win-win situation for all. But do note that as a gauge, do not propose more than three options to your customers for increased probability of success in ease of choosing. This is one sales strategy used in conjunction to enhance service excellence.
I do know that there may be once or twice where solution options are highly limited, and the customer is unhappy. In this case, I will propose that the customers’ interest will have to supersede organisation’s for this circumstance. Hear me out – the interest of your work, business or company may be compromised in this case, but you most probably would gain back a customer or at least not a dissatisfied and angry one! We do know that with the social media being the craze, we may not know whether this unhappy customer will take it to the social platform to vent his or her frustration. This may escalate things in the wrong direction.
To add on, if you are a service professional working in a company, do inform your superiors first and explain to them the whole situation and the reasons for your doings. Then record this as a case study for all to learn. When necessary, you can suggest to your management certain amendment to your company’s system to prevent such situations from happening. And if it’s your own works and business, do carry out reflection and look out for ways to not let the circumstance happen again. All these will surely help to enhance future service interactions.
2. Creating an Optimally- Conducive Environment for the Customers
Creating an environment that puts the customers at ease is the first step in constituting to a pleasant buying experience for him or her. When serving your client, make sure that the environment is conducive and non-threatening. Use sight, audio, touch and temperature points. Some examples could be a nicely lit, neutral to warm-coloured, cosy and rather quiet place of meeting or serving. Soft music works the part too. Comfortable and preferably softer-textured furniture which are strategically placed to promote ‘openness’ and interactions help greatly too. By doing so, customers will feel comfortable and will bring down their level of defence. This will surely lead to them letting their guard down and will be more responsive and receptive to whatever you say.
On the other hand, a low-temperature service environment will create a cold and unfriendly atmosphere, with customer trying to overcome the coldness. This will surely render the customer to be less responsive and receptive to your sharing and to your proposed solutions. Meeting or serving venues that consisted of loud music and uncomfortable furniture pieces will add to it. If all these cannot be avoided, a hot cup of coffee/tea, a brightly lit and warm smile with a base-toned and clear voice will help to win back certain ground.
3. Going Through the Service Process Together
Nothing frustrates a customer further than proposing an unworkable solution or non-feasible options. Do refrain from proposing any solution to the customer just for the sake of settling the situation fast and trying to get away from him or her. The customer can feel it. In all service situations, try all ways to work out suitable options for the client no matter how difficult. Add value by going the extra mile for your customer where possible. Furthermore, carry out cross-selling or up-selling strategically when the need arises (I termed these as ‘Multiple-Referencing’ in my customer service book). Do cross-sell and up-sell only when it is highly beneficial to the customer and his or her needs. If such further selling is only carried out to increase business revenue without giving it a though to how customers can benefit from it, the notion of hard selling may be gathered by the clients. This may be detrimental to what we are trying to achieve in Point 1.
The key to the best solution discovery is not what you have proposed, but which option the customer has chosen. Every proposed solution that you have given to the client must be fully comprehended and appreciated by him or her. Together, both you and the customer will then settle on the best option worked out by you and chosen by him or her. In this case, synergy is created, fostered and promoted, and the customer will also feel involved in the whole decision process. His or her ownership of decision-making will be evident. Your customer will feel that his or her voice is heard and taken into account. This will, by no doubt, enhance the solution-finding process, whatever it is, whether a complaint, purchase or an enquiry. I believe that when you are able to utilise and put into practice the three earlier-mentioned points of serving techniques, you are well on your way to exhibiting customer service excellence, where you will continually win your clients over to your side and have them with you for quite a long time in your work, business and company.
This article is adapted from ‘Fast Forward Your Customer Service’ book by Joshua Luke