Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Business Coach: 7 Customer Service lessons towards generating "Wow" customer experiences

By Virginia Mburu


Mwakazi, the Passionate Entrepreneur and owner of Makao Interiors Ltd continues to prepare for his meeting with this famous property developer this side of Africa .......

From the last episodes, he has learned negotiation skills, the mistakes to avoid when bargaining and now wants some lessons on how to make this interaction  a “wow experience” . He remembers the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-35  and the various characters in it. 

A man in  dire need just as his customer who needs  his services  so as to create a masterpiece, the Priest and the Levite who were  not willing to assist and the Good Samaritan who went out of the way to assist the man in need.

This parable was narrated in response to a question “who is my neighbour” but several lessons can be learned on how to treat our customers or is it client?

Lesson 1.....Have an active customer service policy plus the right process and technology
Verse 30- 33 - “In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

This Good Samaritan must have had a ‘help any person in need’ policy otherwise he could have adopted the same “I do not care” attitude of the Priest and Levite.

Have the right people to interact with customers. Have everyone understand what a ‘wow’ interaction is. They should be quick, accurate, courteous, empathy, patience, adaptable, clear communicators, have a good work ethic, have a thick skin etc.  Make it a point to hire front office personnel who can smile within 30 seconds, can easily recognize voices and recall names.

Are you demanding excellent performance from Customer Service Personnel?.. Then, it is imperative that you have excellent processes, systems, equipment, environment etc. Equip and train your employees about the business, products/ services, communication, the customer service process and the technology in effect. Let everyone in the business know the standards of customer service expected and how they contribute to the achievement of the ‘wow’ interactions.  What about the employees appreciating that it is the customer who pays their salaries/wages?

Lesson 2.....Did you ‘see’ the customer?
The Priest, Levite and Good Samaritan all saw the injured man. They did not just look at him- they took note of what had happened to him... they all saw that he needed help.

How often do you walk into a store and the attendants just glance  and go back to whatever they were doing and act like they do not see that you need help?

It is important to quickly respond to the presence of a customer. Make eye contact.

Lesson 3.....Make them feel special
 Continued verse 33 “......and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

The Good Samaritan cared for the injured man and he was drawn to his predicament.  Possibly, he took a little more time to observe the injuries, to empathise.....

Let the customers know they are welcome and you are willing to serve them.  What about a genuine, wide and sincere ear to ear smile that makes your customers feel extra special?

Lesson 4.....Give them your undivided attention
Verse 34 “He went to him.......”
While the Priest and Levite evaded assisting the injured man and crossed to the other side of the road to continue with their journey, the Good Samaritan went to him.

Go to your customers, greet them, address them by name where possible. Introduce yourself and then proceed to find out how you can be of help. What can you sincerely compliment them on? 

You can start a general conversation about weather, current happenings etc. to develop rapport and trust. Let your words and body language be congruent- no looking around to see who else you would rather be attending to!

Lesson 5.....Engage them to find out what they want 
We are told that the injured man was half dead. He may not have been able to articulate his needs but your customers can!

Genuinely care for them- first for the person keeping in mind that we buy for emotional reasons and then rationalise to back our decision.  It will help that you go the extra mile to make it easy to buy from you. Show that you respect them. Make use of the courtesy phrases- please, thank you, may I etc.

Probe customers to identify out where they are, where they would like to go, what is stopping them from getting there, what it’s costing them to be in the current situation, how do they plan to get to the desired destination etc.   Listen actively to discern the stated and unstated needs.

While at it note that current customers expect to be treated differently from prospects. Find out if they have bought previously---reason why a Customer Relationship Management System is critical. Make it possible to share customer information with the next person the customer will interact with.

Lesson 5.....Educate them
The Good Samaritan had an unconscious man to deal with and thus there was no one to discuss the diagnosis and prognosis with! You do!

Having identified the stated and unstated customer needs, now it’s time to educate. How does your product or service benefit them first as individuals and then as a business? Is it ease of use, time saving, productivity improvement, cost reduction, improved sales, improved welfare etc. How will it get them to their desired destination?

Lesson 6.....Time is life or is it money? Act fast
Verse 34 continued “.......and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii  and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

Some needs must be handled immediately. This is what the Good Samaritan did and he gave generously. He immediately administered first aid to the injured man, provided ambulance services, booked him a room in an inn, nursed him overnight, paid a cash down payment and wrote a promissory note to cater all extra expenses!

Agree on contract terms and act fast as time is essential. For you...For the customer...Make the transactions quick. Limit mistakes, misunderstandings, process gaps, system hang-ups etc. that eat into transaction time. Give customers as much as you can within desired profitability margins and considering other constraints such as time, personnel and available resources.

Lesson 7.....End on a high note
Customers gauge how pleasant or unpleasant an experience is based on how they were handled during peak times and at the end. I am sure the injured man was wowed by the actions of the Good Samaritan!

Over to you Passionate Entrepreneur
How do you ensure you are ‘wowing’ your customers and prospects?
How do you ensure you end on a high note?
Who was the neighbor in this parable?

Share your experiences, suggestions or questions in the comments section below. Who knows- You could probably be the customer who will benefit from the “WOW” interaction!

Whatever you do, make sure it results in less work, more money and positive impact.

Update

Talk to us... we will assist your business improve customer satisfaction through the “My Customer Lifetime Value Optimizer" program? Click here for more details...... Do you know  an entrepreneur who would benefit from this coaching?...Please  do share  the link......
Virginia Mburu
The Work Less, Make More Money Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach
Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year. Access some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons on www.biasharacoach.blogspot.co.ke