great customer service

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9 05, 2011

Do Your Salespeople Really Understand the Meaning of Customer Service?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:09-05:00May 9th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

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Great sales people give away their hearts.

Sales is great customer service

I’ve been thinking alot about customer service lately and I’m convinced most companies haven’t a clue about what it is and how to deliver it. Of course these are my own thoughts and my own personal experiences but my hunch is that I’m not the only one with these experiences.

First of all, great salespeople have passion. Not only for what they sell but for life. It shows in how they build connections and network with people.

They have enthusiasm for all things good; and they spend time making “all things good.” Even things that aren’t good or things that go wrong or bump in the night. Consider the salesperson that finds out a big job is cancelled because the customer suddenly is taken ill and goes to the hospital. Rather than sitting around stewing and complaining about the commission loss, he/she runs to the hospital with the flowers.

When they speak, they smile and they have a twinkle in their eyes and it’s real. You just know they’re passionate. They’re passionate about what you’re doing or buying.

They are  aware of the world around them and how they fit. In other words, it’s not “all about them.” It is truly about the other person in their presence.

They think of customers first as friends.

They develop interests outside of their industry so they can connect with their customers.

They care about their community and make an effort to support what’s important; through these associations they build life long friendships.

They network face-go-face and on line. They know that social media will help them stay close to their customers so they take the time to learn new skills.  

They know it’s important to build “repeat and referral customers” so they find ways to stay in touch.

They treat their job as if it were their own business. They know it’s their job to market and follow through with their customers. They know that “consistency is better than good salesmanship.” Actually I think good salesmanship is consistency. (According to a study done by McKinsey, 70% buy because of how they’re being treated.)

Great salespeople don’t sell, pursuade, coerce–they educate.

They really care about other people, they are kind and it transcends the sales floor.

Over the past three months I have had many experiences as a customer, most “not so good” but some very, very good. I know the good experiences will stay with me forever.

They look for things to do and ways to satisfy their customers that are above and beyond what’s expected. I recently purchased a small camp and needed almost everything from heating to painting to cable services. My experiences were amazing–some great and some not so great.

The representative from Surbane Propane Gas who sees me pull into the driveway and says, let me help you unload your car-I can do it for you. (This was before the sales pitch, why, because he cares or knows it’s a good idea.) The other gas company didn’t even thank me for calling. I told Suburban Propane  I called them because when I was little the Surbane Propane delivery man pushed my mom’s car out of the snow. I was 9 at the time; who says kids won’t be customers?

My electrician who says, “Lis the house key is under the stone, the note is on the door to explain how to drain the water in the pipes, I put some cold drinks in the fridge for you and watered the new flowers you planted.” Why, because he knows it matters to me, did he charge me, no. Even if he charged me it would be okay. Wow, is he single?

How about the  advertisement for Angie’s List about the plumber walking the dog. The home owner is late to meet the plumber and the plumber walks the dog; it’s cute and gets the point across.  The plumber sounds like a thoughtful guy.

Customers will pay more money for great customer service not just ordinary stuff. My friend was sitting in the diner and told the waitress she was having a terrible day. The waitress said, don’t worry about a thing, I’m going to feed you and take care of you and I guarantee it will help.” My friend left a $5.00 top on her $8.00 sandwich. “I felt loved she said.”

The cable man who said, “let me clean out that gutter for you, I’m taller than you and it’s not a problem.  Along with, do you have your lap top with you, let me hook up your wireless router while I’m here.”

“I’ll build your dock at my house and deliver it. I know you’re near the lumber yard but think of all the clean up, lumber all over and your beautiful garden. I would hate to step on anything.” This is alot different  than “docks sure are expensive these days.” What does that mean?

The flooring installer who says, “I know you can measure Lis but suppose you’re wrong, that would be awful for both of us.” This is alot different than brand X who said, “we don’t care what you do, we don’t let customer’s measure.”

Great salespeople look for ways to give away their hearts to their customers. They know that being remembered by their customers after the sale will get them many more sales and many new friends.

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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12 02, 2011

Who Better To Love Than Your Customers?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:11-05:00February 12th, 2011|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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The way to get love is to give love. This year the Valentine Day themes are a little different. Instead of “loving you” many of the ads are saying it’s about “loving us.” In fact there is a US postal stamp which says “loving us.” Valentine’s Day is really about loving us together, not each of us separately.

How can you show love to your customers?

The components of love, respect, sharing, and caring relate to all of those in our lives.  More than anything it’s about being thoughtful to those who really matter. This is the time to remind ourselves about the importance of our customers.

Your business  can have  the greatest products in the world but without customers what do you really have?

If we don’t give our customers great customer service someone else will.Great service is paying attention, showing your customers that they’re special. If your customer loves good food, give  a gift certificate to a special restaurant.

Have fun gifts for your customers on Facebook. If possible, have lots of gifts for lots of customers. The gifts don’t have to be expensive;  it’s the thought that counts. Remember when you were in grade school and the teacher had us make valentine cards for everyone and what fun it was getting those cards?

How about a note to your great customers or posting roses and hearts to your Facebook page and telling your customers how much you love them?

Give your customers great products. Sure everyone is price conscious to some extent but showing your customers what’s new and great makes them feel special. Not everyone will buy the best but everyone will enjoy looking at the best.

Or a video email sent to your customers telling them how much you care?

Sending Christmas cards is sort of old, but taking a photo of you and the customer and sending it to them is very personal. Check out Sendoutcards, it’s very cool.

If you have a blog use  run profiles of your customers.

How about a monthly prize for the nicest customer?

Decorate your store with hearts, streamers and balloons. Of course give away those  candy hearts, the ones with  the wonderful messages.

Remember the internet and social media give you countless ways to show your customers you love them.

Remember the best way to be loved is to show others how much you love them. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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6 02, 2011

Stop Insulting Your Customers

By |2017-03-03T12:07:11-05:00February 6th, 2011|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |7 Comments

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cartoon with fuzzy image, drinking hot chocolate and sitting outside in front of a wood fire. Every customer service post says: “treat the customer the way you want to be treated.”

Have you read the newspaper lately or watched the news?  Maybe I watch too much TV but there are lots of nuts out there. Remember the last time you got bad customer service? Is it possible that the server was treating you the way he  wanted to be treated? I doubt it. He probably wasn’t paying attention which is even worse than poor service.  Remember 96% of customers who leave a business leave because of  indifference.

Don’t we treat people the way we want to be treated? We’re nice to some and not so nice to others. It’s a fact of life, not a great fact but it’s what people do. Some people don’t have very high standards.

Treating customers they way they want to be treated is what great customer service is all about. Call it the Nordstom way, call it “going out of your way”  but it’s giving the customer more than they ever thought they could get. Nordstom’s first rule, hire nice people. Their theory, “we can teach people to sell but we can’t teach them to be nice.” It sure is hard to teach people to be nice.

I was in my friend’s shoe store the other day when a sad looking woman came in and asked if my friend was throwing out any shoes; she didn’t care about the size she had lost everything in a fire. It was hard to understand her,  you could tell she  wasn’t from the United States.

My friend took the woman and her two children by the hand and without hesitation found each  several pairs of shoes. The woman said she had no money but could cook for my friend and bring her a special dish from her country  in a couple of weeks. I watched as the woman left with shoes and my  friend with no money. I said to her “you just gave away a day’s profit”, to which she replied, “what does it matter, winter is coming and they need shoes.”

A few weeks later the grateful woman delivered a wonderful meal to my friend’s house and now they’re good friends. In my mind,  this is the best of customer service. Of course we can’t always afford to do this but there are times when it’s the right thing to do. My friend has struggled with her business; the profit she makes goes into inventory. I don’t know how often she  has paid herself but  when you meet her you know she’s a special human being.  She’s just nice and never forgets what you like and your shoe size.

Last year for my birthday she sent me the most wonderful pair of boots that I knew she couldn’t afford.  I tried to give them back but she said Mama Lisbeth, you’ve given me inspiration to go on and I know I can make it. By the way as I write this my friend Celestine from Shoe Fetish continues to do shoe parties across the country. Check her out on Facebook.

To me this is the ultimate in treating customers the way they want to be treated; I felt inspired. I know a business can’t survive this way, but it’s nice to make someone else feel good. There’s also something to be said for Pay It Forward; if you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you rent it.

As Celestine juggles school,  family and her shoe store she finds time to meet people; it looks like the right people. She was on the Wendy Williams Show last week. I can’t wait to see the show, you go  girl!

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31 01, 2011

YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT BUT WHO CARES?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:11-05:00January 31st, 2011|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |3 Comments

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Was your mother always right?

“…people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” J.K. Rowling, Harry potter and The Half-Blood Prince

The other day I was involved in “an emotional” conversation with someone when in the back of my mind I heard my dad’s famous words, “your mother was right but who cares?” Immediately I burst into laughter. I guess my mom’s words were stuck in my dad’s head too and now I had turned into both my dad and my mom! It was at that point I asked myself, what am I really winning if I’m right.

As the conversation continued, my friend said the following: “If you can listen and give up being right, you might get what you really want…” What a powerful statement. Was I addicted to being right while sacrificing what I really wanted?

Does it really matter if you’re right or wrong? Why do we have so much invested in being right?Isn’t it funny how certain things stick in your head? My mom was famous for being right, which of course made the rest of us wrong. Even dad had mom’s number, he too was tired of being wrong. The truth is, the longer you live the more opportunities you will have to be both right and wrong. Most of us  don’t like being told we are wrong but we love being right.

Maybe it’s not such a great thing to be right.  Maybe winning isn’t always winning. Maybe winning is losing? These are interesting contemplations. We all know what it feels like to be around a “smarty pants.”

Does it really matter if you and I work on a problem, come to the same conclusion but get there different ways? Does that make one of us right and the other wrong? Why do people need to be right?  Is “being right” really about “right” or is it more about being “one up on you?” Smart people who are really smart are willing to listen to others ideas and don’t mind being wrong. People who always have to be right are defending more than their position, they’re defending themselves. Why do we have that overwhelming need to be right, does it go back to our childhood? Or could it be that we have low-self esteem or low self-confidence? Again it really doesn’t matter except that  people who are addicted to being right pay a huge price. In order for you to be right it means someone else needs to be wrong. Don’t thing there’s a price to pay, look at the faces around you the next time you take the dramatic stand to defend your “rightness.”

I know this is the long way to get to great customer service but sometimes the long road may be better because it gives you more time to think. Oh dear, am I succumbing to being right? As you can probably tell, it was difficult in my house to be wrong. The other day I was booking plane reservations when the agent told me for the 4th time that the only way I could change my reservation was with a penalty fee. I asked if she was sure that was the only way and she replied, “of course.” She was unwilling to look at any other possibility despite the fact that I had been told by another agent that the penalty fee could be eliminated. Eventually I had enough of her “rightness”, hung up the phone and got another agent with a different attitude. I also got what I needed  without penalty. Of course she was defending her position and I was defending mine. How could it be  the first agent didn’t know there were other options or didn’t she care? When it comes to the airlines, it’s every man for herself!

When it comes to customer service the customer needs to either win or feel like they’ve won. Customers aren’t always right but if you want them to be your customers it helps if you don’t make them wrong.  This doesn’t mean you have to give the store away but it may mean you have to give some of yourself away to focus on the outcome rather than your position.

How will you know what’s possible in life if you think that your way is always the best way? If you’re so busy making sure your agenda is heard, you may miss out on a better way or something you really want. If you want your life to change or have better relationships with your friends and customers you will have to be open to others opinions and ideas.

Five of the sweetest words you can say to a customer, “I can solve that problem.” Imagine how great those words sound to your customer?

Always keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.

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