The Touch of Remarkable Service

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Customers are favorably attracted to organizations when they get an emotional connection from employees. This means heart-touching encounters filled with spirit, caring and a positive attitude. Below are ten ways for building customer devotion through emotional connections. Think of these as ways to convey the “touch” of remarkable service—the type of experience that makes customers remark positively to their friends.

Be the Attitude You Want Your Customers to Show

We all enjoy serving happy customers. You can help them act pleasant by showing them exactly how. Aim your eyes and very best smile at your customer. Then, deliver a warm greeting that says: “I can’t wait to give you really terrific customer service.” Optimism and joy are contagious. Smile at someone and watch the response you get back. Sure once in a while you get a sourpuss convinced his or her face will shatter by returning the smile. But, most people will give back a pleasant countenance. Great service begets cooperative, easy-to-serve customers.

Never Let Customers Leave Disappointed

Even if you can’t always give customers what they want you can always give them a great service experience. Find a way to help. If you cannot give them what they want or need, be resourceful in finding someone who can. A clerk in a store carried a pocket full of candy kisses. When a customer ask for something she could not provide, she would always say, “But, I can give you kiss” as you put the familiar chocolate in their hand.

“The Answer is ‘Yes,’ What’s Your Question?”

This “we’ll figure out a way to do whatever you need” tells your customers your unit or organization has a “can do” attitude. Go out of your way to help. Show customers your pride. Try to never, ever say “no” to customers unless their requests are inappropriate or unethical. Build a reputation as an imaginative go-to person. Think about a great concierge at a hotel—the person who always finds a way, despite red tape, nay saying co-workers, or restrictive procedures. Be a concierge to your customers.

Great Manners Make Customers Devoted

Customers enjoy getting respect and manners. Treating the child with the same respect you treat his or her mom, makes the mom want to come back. Customers may not always be right, but they are always the customer. Even the “customer from hell” may just be the “customer who has been through hell” and in desperate need of a attentive, compassionate person who treats them like valued person. Think of like this: If your customers all decided to not return, you’d be out of a job!

Listen to Learn, Not to Make a Point

One challenge I had as a parent was listening with no agenda. When my son expressed any concern, I’d feel the need to make a point, teach a lesson, or offer advice. When I stopped trying to be a smart daddy and simply listened, he began to trust me because he felt heard and valued. Customers are the exactly same; give them your undivided attention. What if you got only ten minutes with a loved one who passed away or your favorite hero? You would hang on every word. You wouldn’t miss even the most subtle non-verbal. Your customers deserve the same attention.

Find Customers, Don’t Make Them Find You

Staff costs can be the most expensive item in any organization. It can sometimes mean too many customers for the number of people to serve them, especially in times when organizations are reducing front line staff. But it also means being more assertive in finding customers to serve. Never let customers have to search for assistance. Be accessible. As author Tex Bender wrote in his book, Don’t Squat With Your Spurs On, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there.” Be visible to your customers. And, let your “how may I help you” sound like you really mean it.

Mentor Customers While You Serve Them

I went to the store to buy a thermos because mine dropped and the insides shattered. A few minutes after entering the store I was hearing a confident clerk asking me, “Did you ever wonder how the thermos knows how to keep hot things hot and cold things cold?” He began teaching me about the physics of thermos. I left with an unbreakable thermos plus confidence I had just dealt with a pro. Be the smartest person in your unit or role. Know your products and service absolutely cold. And, keep updated on what you know. Then, make your customer feel the confidence that comes with hearing your wisdom and expertise.

Fix Your Customer, Not Just Your Customer’s Problem

It is not enough to fix a customer’s problem when things go wrong. Just as important is “fixing” the customer’s feelings. Ever go in a fast-food restaurant and have the clerk get your order wrong. Then when you took it back the clerk corrected the order but never said a word or acknowledged the error. You probably left even angrier. The clerk fixed your order, but not you. Give a disappointed customer a sincere apology, let them hear that you understand their concern, and let them observe how fast you are working to get them back to normal. Skip the explanation of why things failed. Just let customers know you learned from the error and will work hard to not let it happen again. If possible, follow-up after their disappointment to make sure they are still okay.

Thank Customers Like You Really Mean it

Customers love it when you tell them much you appreciate their business. Customers never forget that they have many options. Customers feel valued when you show them you never forget that fact either. Sound enthusiastic! Look the customer straight in the eye and give your best Steinway smile. If you sound like a “thank-you-for-shopping-at-J-Mart” robot,” the customer will remember your insincerity, not your gratitude.

And, Always Be a Joy Carrier

Go to Walt DisneyWorld and see Mickey Mouse. I will guarantee you Mickey will be super excited to see you! And, Mickey does that every single day. You never see someone telling guests that “Mickey is a little off today; he stayed up too late watching American Idol.” Mickey might have stayed up late, but he is still passionate about making people happy. And, no one gave the person in the Mickey costume a happy shot. It was a personal choice. Remember, you select the attitude your customers see. Be a joy carrier. If you give customers the best that you have, the best will come back to you!

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group (chipbell.com) and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.

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