OK, a poor misquote of a classic song (thank you Phil Spector, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and the Righteous Brothers – and yes, possibly Tom Cruise on Top Gun, but I’ll let you debate that) but none-the-less it is true in the world of customer service. Let me explain.
Customer service is about creating relationships, no matter whether it is Business to Business or Business to Customer. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a proportion of adults that are interested more in outcomes than in relationships, but even they still need to be able to trust the people that are supplying and supporting them, even with the smallest item. Otherwise, why would customer ratings be so important on the internet? And, how do we create a strong relationship?
Well, it starts at the beginning with showing interest and then moves into romance, even courtship. It starts with one person (generally the supplier representative) showing their interest in the other and getting to know them, showing that they understand them, that they can empathise, and even share similar experiences. It’s about doing it in a genuine way, though not through lies that will eventually be found out.
I remember a friend of mine used to make up crazy jobs that he did when first meeting girls. My favourite occasion was when he told a woman he was a Concorde pilot (yes this was a while back now) and she responded “well that’s incredible, I work on Concorde. I’ve not seen you, which flights are you on?” Oh dear, it was not his best night but you’ll be pleased to know he is happily married now-a-days.
No, at times, building a strong bond can be over an interest you don’t share. For example, I know nothing about football (feel free to test me) but I have built up several relationships through discussing the game and my lack of knowledge. “So, tell me more about your club…”.
The point is that you must spend energy building a relationship, not head straight for sales. Get to know the other person or people, it is a courtship of sorts: Courtship. “Behaviour designed to persuade someone to marry or develop a romantic relationship with one” – Oxford languages.
The difference being, we are asking others to trust us, our business, and our products or services.
Think about it; which works best for a lasting, loving relationship?
1. Romance: Showing the other interest, making them feel special when they are near you; cared for
2. Caveman: Leave the cave with a club, find the most attractive person, and, well, we all know the rest of the story!
Yet, how often in business do the representatives try to use the Caveman approach? I’d argue too often. I see it regularly, indeed I have been in some shops where I have effectively apologised for interrupting the staff while trying to purchase something! Have you been there too?
No, we should and must be better than this. Dependent on the business customers talk to us because they know what they want and just want to know whether we are the people to support them or they need help understanding the product because they either did not understand or don’t have time to understand what they are looking at. It doesn’t matter, it all hinges on the reception they receive and how they are handled.
At this point managers tell me not to worry because “we measure customer satisfaction”. Great. For one thing, when was the last time you went somewhere looking to be “satisfied”? Yes, I know that Mick Jagger couldn’t get no satisfaction, but for the rest of us, especially in the modern world, we are looking for an experience every time. Our lives are built out of experiences. As managers, we need to know the experience they are getting and not just from surveys. Again, do you fill in all the surveys you receive and, are you really truthful? Many just walk if they are not happy. These are good catch mechanisms and I always recommend them but they are part of a much bigger picture which means managers getting up and seeing what their teams are up to.
Yes, I know that time is short but doing this now will prevent some of the firefighting and improve the time you have in the future.
Another thing that annoys me is that I constantly hear that the internet is ruining the high street. While yes, it is a contributary factor, it is not the full reason. A lot must be down to service. Ask yourself, what is the difference between buying in-store and online, other than the ability to touch the product? It is the service. It is getting that loving feeling that can only be received if dealing with real humans where you can see their body language. Want your business to grow? Get your teams to truly romance their customers. The results will pay off considerably and quickly.
If you want or need help, we run a range of services and programs designed to bring back the love, from Effective Communication right through to job-specific skills built around your needs and more. The thing is, though, if you are unsure, just contact us. It will cost nothing and we are happy to discuss and provide advice. What’s more, we will apply no pressure and no sales pitch, just an honest discussion. It’s up to you where you take it from there. It will be fun just getting to know you!
For, as the great philosopher Ella Fitzgerald once said (and as repeated by Bananarama and the Fun Boy Three) “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it… for that’s what gets results’’.
Written by André Bozon
SYLO | Beyond HR.