To be truly effective, customer service must permeate the culture of a company. It is everyone’s job. As such, this article, although it focuses on sales tactics, actually falls under the heading of customer service. It is more about the way you engage your customers and how you make them feel comfortable about doing business with you now and in the future. These tactics work for B2B as well as B2C, though the examples discussed here are based on a retail setting. Incorporate these five customer service strategies into your sales tactics and watch sales grow.
- Be engaging. First impressions are always important. Put your best foot forward with the customer greeting, whether it be in person or on the phone. This sets the tone for the entire interaction.
- Ask a question. Make it an open-ended question, not just one that requires a yes-or-no answer. The standard “Can I help you?” is too vague and doesn’t invite a definitive answer. Better would be “What can I help you find today?” or something that will draw out a specific reason the customer is shopping in your store.
- Ask another. Once you have ascertained what the customer needs, ask why. Knowing why the customer needs a specific product or service will give you a better understanding and possibly other opportunities to help by upselling related products.
- Upsell. Once you understand why the customer is purchasing a particular item and why he or she needs it, upsell if appropriate. For example, if an Ace Hardware customer has come to the store to buy a can of paint, it is logical to assume and ask if the customer is also in need of other supplies such as paint brushes, rollers, drop cloths, buckets or trays—you get the idea. If you are reluctant because you believe that upselling is a pushy form of customer service, just imagine how that customer will feel if he returns home and realizes he forgot to buy brushes.
- One more question. Don’t assume that the customer has only come to your place of business for one reason alone. Ask if there is anything else that the customer needs—it could be related to the purchase(s) you have already discussed or something completely different. If the answer is “yes,” begin the steps again to make sure the customer goes home with all needed items.
And I’d like to add No. 5½, Say thanks. Offer a sincere “Thank You!” This expression of gratitude will leave the customer with a lasting, positive final impression. It is at least as important, if not more so, than the first impression.
Ultimately, though we are discussing selling tactics, the message here is about engagement. Specifically, how to use customer service strategies to actively engage with the customer during the actual selling process. Hire the right people for the job—selling and serving the customer—and train and motivate them to engage with each customer to provide an amazing customer service experience.
Published: February 17, 2014