Customer Service: The Magical Phrase
by Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro
We recently completed a two week cruise of the Mediterranean on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. After embarking in Barcelona, we cruised over two thousand miles to five countries and eight ports of call. Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, this dream vacation resulted from years of saving and months of planning. We were not disappointed.
From the Coliseum in Rome to the ruins of Pompeii, we were dazzled with scenery, sites and history. We listened to tour guides, ate Gelato, and swam on the Italian Riviera. We mustered, tendered and ate way too much. And much to our delight, we enjoyed the finest service I have ever experienced.
The attitude on board ship was “no problem.” With a crew meticulously trained, it was clear from the moment we boarded that whatever our interest, request or problem, they were there to serve. This was no easy task as the ship accommodates more than two thousand guests; each with their own agendas, preferences and anxieties. There are tourists who lose their cameras, their itineraries and their children during the course of the day.
At one point I purchased tickets for a boat trip to shore that were not needed as it was included in another excursion. Though the ticket said “not refundable,” I sheepishly went to the counter to inquire about a refund. The answer? “No problem.”
Craving guacamole one afternoon, I arrived at one of the restaurants looking for the avocado treat. Though not open, one of the chefs raced back in the kitchen and brought out tip and chips. When I thanked him, he said, you guessed it, “No problem.” In spite of several thousand guests who also had various needs, issues, and requests, we were made to feel special.
The “no problem” attitude can work well for any business. What small things can you do for your customers to make it clear you value their business and the relationship? Here are some ideas:
• Adopt the “no problem” attitude. Train your staff to use that phrase on a regular basis regardless of the request or the inconvenience. In a sometimes hostile and argumentative world, it is refreshing to do business with people who don’t argue about the small stuff or make a transaction more difficult than it needs to be. The phrase works well to make it clear that the customer comes first.
• Accommodate as much as possible. I frequently observe customer interactions that appear to be nothing more than a verbal shoving match. Staff may argue about a detail that really doesn’t make any difference just to win the skirmish but lose the war. Don’t make the customer feel that you are doing him a favor by taking his money. He won’t be back.
• Ban the “P” words. Nobody cares about your policies, procedures or protocols. They only care about what you can do for them. Nothing will annoy a customer more than hearing that what they want is not allowed because of policy and procedure. Standard operating procedures are for your benefit, not the customers.
• Under promise and over deliver. Exceed expectations and you will create customer loyalty. People have come to expect poor customer service these days, and those businesses that focus on quality stand out. Go the extra mile and do the unexpected. Customers will remember the service.
• Train staff in customer relations. Jeffrey Gitomer refers to it as buying all the staff Chap Stick. Staff will need it for kissing all the customers. Make it clear to all employees that their paycheck comes from the customers, not the payroll department. If the customers weren’t spending, they wouldn’t get paid.
• Maximize the first encounter. It is said that you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is especially important for businesses. Who is answering your phone? Do customers encounter a friendly voice or a burned out robot? This critical position needs to be trained and retrained so that each and every encounter is positive, friendly and helpful.
• Don’t forget the follow up. Service doesn’t stop once the transaction is paid. Stay in contact with your customers through newsletters, mailings and phone calls. Offer them helpful resources that position your company as the experts. The next time they need your service, you will be the one they call.
Adopt the “no problem” approach for your business. Let your customer know how much you appreciate them and their confidence in your goods and services. Long term relationships are the key to growing any business. Make sure that you are thinking of the third and fourth transaction when you are making the first.
Barbara Bartlein, The People Pro may be contacted at http://www.ThePeoplePro.com barb@thePeoplePro.com
FREE E-mail newsletter, sign on at http://www.ThePeoplePro.com. Barbara Bartlein, is The People Pro, and President of Great Lakes Consulting Group, LLC, which helps companies sell more goods and services by developing people. She can be reached at 888-747-9953, by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at http://www.ThePeoplePro.com