Today’s ICSA Blog is by Shep Hyken, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and hall-of-fame speaker is the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations. Shep is one of the Keynote Speakers at this year’s ICSA Annual Conference. For more information about his upcoming book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet, go to www.AmazeEveryCustomer.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
Six Customer Service Tools to Amaze Your Customers and Increase Sales
Do you ever find yourself wondering if there is one ultimate strategy that could help your business win customers, keep them coming back and entice them to buy more?
I believe the answer lies in customer service, and I have pinpointed the perfect example of a company that puts this strategy into action. In my upcoming book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time (Sept. 3, 2013), I shine the spotlight on Ace Hardware, a leader in delivering outstanding customer service for many years. Despite the emergence of “big box” competitors such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, Ace stores continue to hold their own by offering superior customer service. Ace bills itself as the most helpful hardware stores on the planet, and wins the retail game by living up to that promise. I interviewed many Ace retailers and have distilled their collective knowledge into six tactics. The following may sound a bit basic, but don’t be fooled by their simplicity.
1. Greet the Customer – Whether in person or on the phone, offer a warm greeting to engage the customer and make a good “first impression.” Make the customer feel appreciated and comfortable, setting the stage for the remainder of the interaction.
2. Ask a Question – This should involve more than the standard “Can I help you?” Make it open-ended so you can determine the customer’s needs. Rather than the customer simply answering with “yes” or “no,” the question should lead the customer to offer information that lets you know how you can truly help fill his or her needs. An example of an open-ended question might be “What can I help you find today?” The customer’s response will tell you why the customer has come to your business and how you can help.
3. Follow Up by Asking Why – Once you know what the customer is looking for, it is helpful to understand the need behind the purchase or how the item will be used. If the customer wants to buy paint, for example, follow up with a “why” question. Why does the customer need paint? Or, put it in other words – what does he or she plan to paint? This information will offer opportunities to upsell other items that the customer will also need.
4. Upsell – Suggesting other merchandise to the customer – upselling – is not only an appropriate sales tactic, it is an important part of customer service as well. If your customer is purchasing paint, it would be to his or her advantage if you ask if other items are needed for the project as well. This could include brushes, rollers, paint buckets, and anything else necessary for the task at hand. Most customers appreciate it when a knowledgeable retailer helps to ensure they have everything they need, saving them time so they do not need to return to the store. Ace Hardware stresses this to its associates – “upsell” to make sure the customers have everything they need. Actually, to not do so is poor customer service.
5. Ask “What Else” – Once you have helped the customer with a requested item, be sure to ask if there is any other way you can be of service. It may be locating other merchandise – related to the first item or not – or perhaps answering another question on a service call. Make sure you have met all of the customer’s needs before ending the interaction.
6. Say “Thank You” – Always say “Thank you.” Always. Offer sincere appreciation to each and every customer. The customer wants to feel appreciated, and deservedly so. He or she has chosen to do business with you, and you want to end the interaction with a positive “last impression,” hopefully setting the stage for a continuing business relationship.