People persons and great customer service

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How often do you hear from job applicants, “I’m a people person”? I don’t know about you but I always think to myself, “Of course you’re a people person. Would you really apply for a retail job if you were a string bean person? Or a bug person?” I’m okay if someone says they really like to meet new people but “I’m a people person” is nothing but a canned line with very little substance.

When I started working with companies instead of individuals I discovered another canned and overused line. Whenever I have an introductory call with a potential client the owner or executive will inevitably tell me, “We give great customer service.”

I always reply, “That’s great. What do you do that demonstrates great customer service?” The answer is usually about some form of waiting on customers. I’m not trying to be negative, and I’m sure the owner or executive sees that as great service, but all retailers give at least some form of customer service.

Not everyone’s customer service can be great because if everyone’s customer service is great, great would be the norm. Follow my drift? People who give great customer service can describe why their customer service is great.

When I was talking with a potential client the other day I asked him what made his company so special. I thought to myself, here comes the great customer service line. I was pleasantly surprised when he replied, “It’s our company goal to exceed every customer’s expectation. We may not always achieve it but we never stop trying.”

Think about the difference. “We give great customer service” versus “We try to exceed every customer’s expectation.” Imagine two stores that sell the same products and are located next door to each other. One of the stores gives great customer service; the other strives to exceed their customer’s expectations. Which store do you think delivers a better store experience? Where would you rather shop? Seems like a slam-dunk to me.

How does a retailer exceed a customer’s expectation? The particulars are different for every retailer. Whatever those particulars, exceeding a customer’s expectations almost results in a shopping experience that is fun, easy, enjoyable, and results in a customer owning the right products. It inevitably it comes down to one thing: people. Not just regular “people persons,” either. It takes a staff that is empowered, engaged, and proud to represent the company.

Here’s an exercise your staff can do together or an owner/manager/salesperson can do him/herself. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, identify the actions you take today to exceed a customer’s expectations. The longer the list the better!

On the right side, come up with some new ideas of ways to exceed your customer’s expectations. Be realistic. Make them actionable. Identify those you can put in place as soon as possible. I guarantee that setting a goal of exceeding every customer’s expectation will absolutely impact both the top and bottom lines.

As we say here at the Retail Contrarian. . . Forget customer service. It’s all about the experience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.

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