As someone who has grown up in Grande Prairie, I have watched my city go through its share of economic ups and downs. I’ve seen people lined up for job interviews as well as 3 people trying to do a 10-man job. Throughout all of this, I have also noticed trends in the customer service area. With Grande Prairie on another cusp of a boom, I thought I might point out a few things that seemed to escape us last time.
1. You Catch More Flies with Honey
Smiling while you talk with someone can completely change how they view that interaction. Delivering bad news? Keep the positive attitude while adhering to the serious nature of the conversation – a sympathetic ear goes a long way. Something as simple as saying hello and asking others how they are today sets the tone for a good conversation.
Extra credit: Smile while talking anywhere you are – in person and on the phone. You can hear it in voices whether you can see the person or not.
2. Internal Communication is Key
A ubiquitous example would be a phone company. I call this phone company and I get Betty who I tell my problem to. Betty realizes she can’t help me with my problem so she transfers me to Frank in Communications, who I then explain my problem to again. Frank looks through his computer and figures that I’m going to need Johnny in the tech department. After waiting for another 10 minutes Johnny answers, and yet again I explain my problem. After a bit more humming and hawing Johnny sends me back to Betty and at this point Betty who answers the phone and asks me “What seems to be the problem today?”
What could have been done differently? Betty could have saved everyone time doing a little more investigation, perhaps by calling the first department and asking if that’s where I needed to be sent to. Even if she doesn’t know how to fix the problem, finding the right person to help scores points in my book.
Extra credit: Implement the flow of information into your training processes to always be customer-centric.
3. Set Realistic Time Frames
We’ve all been on the other side of an “overpromise and under-deliver” situation. Life gets busy, deadlines get closer and pass. It’s hard to live up to the “I needed it yesterday” attitude that can happen all too often, so the easiest way to avoid a negative situation is to be honest – give a timeline you can actually meet. Clients will appreciate your honesty, and you’ll be way less stressed out.
Extra credit: If you can, deliver a day or two early for extra bonus points.
4. Be an Expert, Not a Know it All
Leave out the eye rolls and exasperated sighs if you’ve just heard the same question 13 times. Your customer cares enough to ask, so it’s a valid question. Help you customer make an informed decision. Revenues will increase and so will positive word of mouth. Customers aren’t there to inconvenience you, you’re there to convenience them.
Extra credit: If you have questions that are being asked multiple times, find a way to make it easier for customers to find the answer via a website, signage, or other method.
A positive customer experience stands out and gets you noticed. I make a point to come back to that same positive place over and over again. I feel valued and wanted, and parting with my hard-earned dollars becomes easier. A great customer experience can justify a slightly higher price or a slightly longer timeframe. It can also be what sets you apart from the rest of the pack.