Columnists Brad Huisken Customer Service

Customer Service

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In many cases in today’s retail environment the only thing that separates one jewelry store, or company, from its competition are the salespeople and the customer service that they provide. I’ll make a bold statement here:

I believe when people come into a jewelry store today they are not necessarily looking for jewelry. What they are looking for is a place and a person from which to buy jewelry.

People have been in search of good service for decades, if not centuries. Prospects and customers will continue to patronize the salespeople that provide exceptional service to them. Good, bad, or indifferent, the service that you give when selling has a direct effect on your success in sales. The rewards of exceptional customer service are high – personal trade, completed sales, referrals and repeat business.

The goal of a salesperson, with every presentation, should be to achieve personal trade, repeat business, and referral business. It is a goal of the customer to find their friend in the jewelry business. The customer of today is looking for a salesperson that they can trust, recognize and depend on for their future jewelry buying needs. The only way that the goals of the customer, the jeweler and the jewelry salesperson can be met is through providing outstanding customer service. The only way your sales and profit goals can be met is to meet the goals of the customer!

I am not talking about the type of customer service that provides just the minimum. I am talking about a proactive customer service program that is designed to absolutely delight the customer. The days of simply satisfying customers are over. A satisfied customer may only get you a sale for today. A customer who is delighted will earn you a customer for the long term. A warm, sincere thank you and an invitation to come back along with sending thank-you notes are the minimum of what your customer service program should provide.  It is essential that you adhere to the following thirteen customer service standards should you wish to maintain a strong, consistent and exceptional customer service program.

Customer Service Standards

1. If you say it, do it. Nothing will upset a customer faster than not fulfilling a promise that has been made. If the cable television installer says that they will be at your home between 10:00 am and noon, you expect them to be there. When they don’t show up you are upset and would probably switch cable companies, if you could. You must be sure that every promise made is a promise kept. I realize many customer service issues are not the fault of the salesperson.  For example, the vendor may not deliver on time; the repair shop is running behind, and so on. The customer, however, holds the salesperson responsible for these problems, and rightfully so. A sales professional needs a check and balance system to ensure that if a shipment is delayed or a promise cannot be kept that you, the salesperson, notify the customer well in advance.

2. Satisfy every customer. At the very least we need to ensure that every customer we have is satisfied. In reality a professional salesperson will attempt to take every customer to the next level, which is creating a personal trade customer. A customer that is simply satisfied will get you a sale for today. A customer that has become one of your personal trade clients will become a customer for life.

3. Keep personal problems out of business. Everyone has personal problems. I know that 90% of the people out there really don’t care about your personal problems, and the other 10% are probably glad that your life is more miserable than theirs. All kidding aside, customers want to enjoy the experience of buying your products and services. The last thing that they want to hear about are your personal issues. Do the best you can to avoid talking about your personal problems to your customers and your fellow salespeople.

4. Use their name. Customers love to be addressed by their name. Using their name gives the customer a sense of acknowledgement and a feeling that they are important to you. Using a customer’s name also provides a sense of personalization to the entire sales process. A customer would much rather buy from someone that they have a personal relationship with than a stranger. At some point during the presentation you need to ask for the customer’s name. One way to do that is to simply say, “By the way, my name is Brad.” Most people generally respond by giving you their name in return.  If not, you can just ask them for their name by saying “And your name is?” Once you get the customers name, be careful not to over use it. Three or four times during the sales presentation should be plenty to make them feel comfortable and to enable you to remember the name.  Remember how it makes you feel to walk into a business establishment and be greeted by name... important!

5. Dress for success. Customers want to deal with professional looking salespeople. You should always look your very best, neatly groomed and dressed appropriately. I would avoid outrageous clothing and hair fashions. I am not saying you have to wear a suit and tie, or a dress in every situation, however, many of you should. I suggest you always look and dress in a way that will not offend anyone. Should your company have uniforms, wear them neatly. If dress casual is accepted, that is fine as long as you look the part of a professional jewelry salesperson.  Be conscious of personal hygiene.

6. Give them your full attention. Always give customers your full, complete, and undivided attention. You must find a way to concentrate on every word that the customer has to say even if there are outside distractions taking place. In sales your job is to find out everything the customer does or doesn’t know about your product or service. To miss one word or a phrase just might be the difference between making a sale and losing a sale. The conversation between you and your customer is far more important than anything or anyone else at that point in time. Make them important to you by giving them the attention they deserve.  Preparation is so important because you don’t need to be thinking about what you are going to say while the customer is talking to you.

7. Never interrupt. Never, ever interrupt a customer for any reason. Remember what the customer has to say is far more important than anything you have to say. To cut the customer off and not allow them to say every word will lead to misunderstandings and incomplete communication. Additionally, it is just downright rude to interrupt anyone, especially a customer that wants to spend his or her money with you. Success in sales comes with your ability to hear and not necessarily your ability to speak. I find the major reason salespeople interrupt customers is because they are busy thinking about what they are going to say next, rather than letting the customer tell them what the next thing is that they want to hear.

8. No fast-talking. If you are talking too fast the customer may not be able to understand what you are saying and you risk losing the sale. The customer isn’t likely to say, “Hey listen, I didn’t understand you.” In most cases they will simply leave. The customer may say something like “I’ll be back” or “I need to think about it,” but in reality they are on their way to your competition. Nobody wants to feel as if they are being talked down to or made to feel ignorant. Remember that many customers feel that salespeople are basically con men, and if you talk too fast, you’ll just be confirming in their mind that you’re one of those “fast-talkers.”

9. Sell with enthusiasm. Project enthusiasm in your presentation, and it will have a direct effect on the amount of enthusiasm that your clients will have about your products and services.  It is easy to fall into a rut when you show the same products and services over and over again. Sometimes your excitement about the product or service may be lower than it is at other times.  It is important that you remember your products and services are still new and fresh to your clients and you need to remain enthusiastic.

10. Smile, Smile, Smile.  Certainly you know that a smile is contagious and when you smile at someone you usually get a smile in return.  A good feeling is passed between those who share a smile. No one wants to deal with someone who acts as though they hate their life and are unhappy with everything around them. Customers do not want to feel as though they are a bother to you. They want to feel comfortable and welcome.  A simple smile will give them a sense of comfort and welcome.  It will defeat the fear and natural resistance your customers have when they walk into your store.

11. The Golden Rule. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. This rule applies to sales just as it does to life. No one wants to be mistreated. They do not want to be lied to or treated rudely.  None of us wishes to be pushed around, or abused. Why do people have this conception of salespeople? The answer is easy: we have earned the reputation. Through the years people have been lied to, mistreated, mislead, abused, and treated rudely by salespeople.  Now they almost expect that kind of treatment, however, there is no place in sales for this type of behavior. A con man uses these tactics, not a professional salesperson.  Instead, excite them; surprise them with behavior that exceeds this expectation!

12. Make it fun. Selling should be fun and if it isn’t fun, is it worth doing? It does not matter if you are the salesperson or the customer, the buying/selling process should be an enjoyable experience. If you have chosen this as your profession, your career can and should be fun; life is too short to spend it doing something that you do not enjoy. Surveys say that over 50% of the workers in the U.S. do not like their job. It’s a good bet you are waiting on one of them.  At least make sure they know you like your job. Your clients work hard for their money and they want to enjoy spending it. In many situations spending money is a form of entertainment and fun.

13. Go the extra mile. True professionals will go the extra mile and do something different to ensure that the buying experience was a memorable one. It is of the utmost importance that you set yourself apart from everyone else in your profession, which takes very little time to do. Fair exchange is what people expect from the buyer/seller relationship. What you need to give them, as a true professional, is Exchange in Abundance. If you don’t go the extra mile and deliver exchange in abundance, someone else will.

In addition to these customer service standards, install a customer service program where you go above and beyond anything your competition may be doing. I have heard some wonderful stories about providing exceptional, above and beyond customer service that is designed to “own” the customer and to ensure that the customer wouldn’t even think of shopping elsewhere. In fact the customer service you provide can be your most effective form of advertising, word of mouth.

I know a jeweler that provides a limousine and driver for the weddings of his bridal customers. I understand that the brides in this community are now scheduling their wedding dates around the availability of the limousine. Another jewelry store sends two bottles of wine to the rehearsal dinner of the bridal couple. The wine bottle has a customized label with the couples name on it, their wedding date, and the name of the jewelry store. This jeweler has found that they will drink one of the bottles at the rehearsal dinner and the other bottle goes home in the curio cabinet. That bottle of wine in the cabinet will provide free word of mouth advertising every time someone sees it. Still another jeweler sends a gift to every customer that spends over a certain amount. Perhaps a picture frame with the jewelers name engraved on it along with the names and wedding date of the couple, a piece of fine crystal, a goblet, silver knife or whatever will be kept and cherished by the recipient for a long time to come. In comparison to other profit statement line items, the price of outstanding customer service is cheap.  Do something different to set yourself apart from your competition.

Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is President of IAS Training.  Mr. Huisken has authored several books and training manuals on sales and  produces a Weekly Sales Training Meeting video series along with Aptitude Tests and Proficiency Exams for new hires, current sales staff and sales managers. In addition, he publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight” For a free subscription or more information contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it visit his website at www.iastraining.com.

 
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