What is your focus when it comes to customer service?
Book the call? Get the sale? Get the money? Or, WOW the customer?
I worry that too many companies in our industry are too focused on pricing and profits and not enough on experience and service. We know that booking the call, getting the sale, and making money are important – without them, you have no business. But, those things come as a byproduct of creating a world-class experience for your customers.
With giants like Amazon and Google creeping into our industry, taking advantage of our margins and changing the way people interact with our companies, we must be focused on creating an experience that customers fall in love with. We must make it about more than just price, brand, and quality of equipment or service.
So, now, let’s dive into HOW. How do you empower your team to create a world-class customer experience repeatedly, ensuring that your CSRs’ last phone call of the day sounds as good as the first of the day, or that your technicians’ last appointment is as extraordinary as their first?
Principles that Create Autonomy
You need to start by adopting a set of principles for your team to embrace, then train your team to act autonomously in accordance with those principles. In this way, you are not only giving them an end goal (WOW the customer), you are providing parameters within which they can know how to achieve that goal.
Principles guide your team to action, but also provide them with flexibility to determine their actions based on the situation they find themselves in. Here, I will give you eight master principles which we refer to as the Pattern for Excellence. These principles can be applied in all situations and will empower your team to act autonomously to create a WOW experience for your customers. The principles of the Pattern for Excellence are:
1. Be Positive: create powerful, interpersonal energy. Your passion and energy for your work should be electric and contagious. People should feel delighted to engage with you and your team and feel your positive energy. People gravitate toward the positive and away from the negative.
We don’t know what the best solution for the customer is unless we ask. We also don’t get their business unless we ask.
2. Be Confident: be prepared to WOW. You want your team members and your customers to be confident, and that confidence comes with preparation. Preparation comes with practice and constant self-assessment; i.e., listening to your own calls, practicing difficult call scenarios, getting to know your product and industry better.
3. Listen: become present first. Whether your business is B2B, B2C, or B2G, all consumers are people! They have an emotional need to be clearly understood before they are presented with someone else’s agenda. Ensure that whenever your team interacts with a customer, they listen first. Ask questions to understand what the customer is going through, and rephrase their plight so that you can show you understand them clearly.
4. Care: respect individual worth. In addition to being understood, customers have an emotional need to be cared about. The goal before every sale is to connect with the customer and gain their trust. We show we care when we express empathy with words and phrases like “oh no!” or “that’s terrible!” Or, in cases where the issue at hand is less alarming, simple assurances that we can help show you care as well.
5. Say “Yes”: give beyond expectation. It’s imperative that you assure your customers that you can help by saying “yes” and that you focus on what you can do to help. Too often, we will hear a CSR say “sorry… there’s nothing we can do” to customers who want a price over the phone or want an appointment during a time slot that’s already filled. But the moment you say no is the moment they begin their search for another company – another company that will also likely make it about what they are not able to do. Say “YES!”
6. Ask: progress through service. We don’t know what the best solution for the customer is unless we ask. We also don’t get their business unless we ask. Questions like “when would you like us to come out?” give you an idea of their time expectation, give them some semblance of control, and put you in control of the conversation. Many CSRs are great at answering every question the customer asks, but they never ask their own questions to get the call booked! Questions like “when would you like us to come out?” or “I have an open appointment at two o’ clock this afternoon, may I book that appointment for you?”
7. Be Valuable: consciously create value. Sales expert Jeff Gitomer declares that “price only matters in the absence of value.” Before you present any sort of fee to the customer, always make sure you create value for them. Let them know why it is a wise choice to go with you, what makes you different from the competition, and walk them through the service you will provide so that they can see clearly how valuable it is. Then, you are in position to present the fee. Go above and beyond to create value for the customer.
8. Be Grateful: honor our stewardship. Always express sincere gratitude to your customers. Let them know what a pleasure it is to serve them and that you are glad they called. People become loyal when they know they matter.
Put Principles to Action
When your team follows a pattern of principles like the Pattern for Excellence in all their interactions, they will WOW your customers. They will become more autonomous, and they will begin to focus more on the experience your customers have than the money your company is making. Make your focus on customer experience – not just booking the call and getting the sale.
For more information on how to WOW your customers, visit www.egia.org/cbs-customerservice for a complimentary Customer Service training package courtesy of EGIA Contractor University.
Brigham Dickinson is president and founder of Power Selling Pros (www.powersellingpros.com), a leading coaching and training firm dedicated to teaching businesses to WOW more customers. Brigham is also a founding faculty member of EGIA Contractor University (www.egia.org/university).