Article provided for The Plumb Club by Kate Peterson, PC Performance Concepts
Customer service begins the moment a consumer approaches your store—even if it’s on the phone or over the Internet—and from that point on, your service effort should never end.
Always remember that today’s consumers have multiple options for where to spend their money. They’re also increasingly cautious about how they spend it. If you deliver exceptional service, you create loyalty, and customers will gladly give their business to you. If you take people for granted, they’ll take their money someplace else.
Exceptional customer service involves six steps:
1. Greeting customers and making them feel welcome.
2. Letting them know they’re important to you.
3. Listening to them in order to understand what they want.
4. Determining how you can best help them.
5. Genuinely assisting them to fulfill their needs and wants.
6. Assuring them that you value their patronage.
The essentials for service are similar to those for selling—and they warrant every bit as much effort. A customer who needs a broken clasp repaired deserves the same quality of attention as one who’s shopping for a $10,000 ring.
So, let’s look at the steps required to deliver exceptional service.
Step 1. Make customers feel welcome.— Customers make an impression on you during the first few moments of interaction. Your appearance, body language, and tone of voice contribute to this critical first impression. Customers look for confidence, friendliness, and sincerity, and when they see these things, they decide, “I like this person, and I want to do business here.” On the other hand, if you communicate doubt, apathy, or insincerity, you’ll get resistance. That makes it essential to learn how to greet customers in a positive manner and begin the cycle of customer service in an exceptional way.
Step 2. Let customers know they’re important to you.—In a jewelry store, it’s easy to get caught up in all the “stuff” there is to do. But if you’re too focused on routine chores, you can make customers feel like interruptions. Exceptional service results when you recognize that your customers are your lifelines to success. Ultimately, they’re the reasons why your job, your store, and our entire industry exist. When you value customers accordingly, your behavior will reflect it. You’ll strive to serve them sincerely. They’ll sense the esteem in which you hold them. You’ll truly satisfy them, and they’ll return to do business with you again and again.
Step 3. Listen to customers to understand what they want.—Whenever you approach customers, break free of all other preoccupations and focus exclusively on them. Your top priority should be gaining the information that will help you serve them. In order to do that, you need to develop the ability to listen actively. Patient listening, genuine concern, and careful observation will help you pinpoint customers’ true needs and exceed their expectations.
Step 4. Determine how you can best help customers.—People usually come into your store with a definite purpose in mind. So, don’t ask if you can help them. They think you can, or they won’t be there! Your job is to enter into a conversation—to build a relationship with the customer—that will allow you to determine how you can best serve their needs. Asking the right questions and processing the responses carefully will convey your intentions to find a solution.
Step 5. Genuinely assist customers to fulfill their needs and wants.—Service usually starts with a specific function, like inspecting and cleaning jewelry, and you need to perform such requests promptly within your store’s policy and procedure guidelines. But remember, too, that you’re in the business of selling. Never assume that a customer wants just one form of service. Always offer your expertise to help fill a need for personal occasions. Keep in mind that customers have wants as well as needs and seek opportunities to fulfill those wants.
Step 6. Assure customers that you value their patronage.—Think carefully about how you want customers to feel when they leave your store, and keep that goal clearly in mind throughout every encounter. Last impressions are crucial to developing repeat business. So, make sure the ones you leave are positive. Thank your customers sincerely for doing business with you—or simply paying you a visit—and let them know they’re truly appreciated. And don’t forget to invite them to come back and see you again soon!