Let your customers know that you have expertise. Some small talk is okay. Common courtesy dictates that you greet your customer but, get to the point. Why are they there? Don’t waste your customer’s (and frankly your own) valuable time with small talk. Be sure that they value you for what you know as well as for what you say or sell. Your business cards, your brochures, flyers, any public material should also reflect your expertise.
Check your image. If you want to be known as the best, be sure everything you do reflects this image. Step outside your business (literally and figuratively) and see if your image is the “best on the block”. Look at your business cards and your marketing material. If you are selling high-end then reflect this high-end image. Listen to telephone conversations with your clients – is it first class or coach? What image does your customer see, hear, smell, and touch?
If you cannot help a customer, say so! You cannot be all things to all people. You cannot do everything and no customer expects you to. The true proof of professionalism is the ability to say no. Customers want good, trustworthy solutions. Be certain to stay current on your information and prepared to help by referring them to other competent, qualified businesses if their quest is outside your field. They will trust your referral if you are respected for your expertise.
Be accessible. Your customers are dependent on you. They would not have contacted you if they didn’t have a need. This dependency is an advantage but also a responsibility. If you are accessible, you will raise their comfort level, raise their satisfaction and ultimately increase their loyalty.
Listen to your customer. Let them do the talking. Only when you have an accurate picture of their issues and concerns are you prepared to meet their needs. (Did you know that “listen” jumbled is also “silent”?) It’s hard to listen when you’re talking.
Get to know your customer. If you assume that you know what your customer needs, chances are you will sell what you want them to have not what they need. The two may match occasionally but for you to deliver true customer service; you need to do more than just “talk the language”. What is required is grasping the issues facing the customer and recognising the problems your customer is facing. Then you can truly bring an expert solution to the table. This can be played out in a few seconds in a busy retail environment or over years in a more specialised consulting firm.
Help your customers trust your business. Take the time to know them and let them know how you can help bring a true solution to the table.
By Marcia Bagnall