At the heart of any successful business is great customer service. People often remember a good encounter with a salesperson (but they always remember a bad one!), making it more likely that they will return to your business and tell others about the experience they had. Mastering customer service, therefore, is about much more than a single sale; it builds trust with clients, functions as a marketing tool for your business, and makes future sales easier.
The first and one of the most important aspects of good customer service is listening to the customer. You are there to meet their needs, not to sell them just anything. Listen to what the customer wants, understand their individual requirements and offer solutions to their needs. Take car sales, for instance. You should ask the customer questions to determine what sort of vehicle would be most suitable. Do they have children? Do they need a large boot for work or leisure activities? What is the budget?
Know your product
Having got to know your customer’s individual needs, you need to be able to match them with a suitable product. Here’s where an in-depth, comprehensive knowledge of your products is essential. You need to know everything about a product so that you can answer any questions the customer has. Your ability to do so helps to gain the customer’s trust. For car sales, for instance, you need to know the specs, the optional extras the mileage, the history of the vehicle and the financial details that come with it (such as warranties and part exchange deals).
A big purchase like a car is unlikely to be closed on the first contact. Buyers will typically want to see what’s available, and then take some time to consider their options. Good customer service involves recognising this, understanding that not all customers act the same way. Building a personal relationship with a customer is key. You don’t want to be pushy or appear desperate to make a sale (even if you are on commission!).
If you can’t do something, say it. You don’t want to promise the customer something only to go back on it later. This will break the trust you have cultivated and reflect negatively on the business as a whole. You don’t want to just say what the customer wants to hear or whatever you think it will take to make a sale. You need to be straight up in relating what the product offers. Customers will appreciate your honesty.
Being honest doesn’t mean you have to highlight negatives. Language makes a big impression on a customer. You should use positive language that reinforces the good things the product offers. If you are asked about something negative, acknowledge it, but always combine it with something positive.
Go the extra mile
Customers always remember when they received service that exceeded their expectations. This can be as simple as contacting them some time after a sale to check how they are getting on with the product. It is that sort of attention to detail that contributes to a company receiving recognition for the quality of its customer service. For instance, customers of participating Toyota dealerships in Australia were independently surveyed during 2013 to determine their level of satisfaction with the sales process and their experience with the vehicle service department. The 5-Star Customer Service Dealership Award recognises dealerships that have consistently met a strict set of criteria by offering exceptional customer service and routinely exceeding customer expectations. In 2013, 56 Toyota dealerships achieved the Award, reflecting their attention to customer satisfaction.
Using these strategies will help you deliver the highest level of customer service – which will benefit you, your customers and for your business.
About the Author
The feature photo was taken by Phil Dragash.