Recently I have had the strange pleasure of experiencing what it is like to be a "Mystery Shopper". You know, the people who go into companies pretending to be a customer in order to test their sales people.
While the company in question was mostly looking for signs their people were following procedures, I found some interesting differences in the people we tested.
Most of the advantages the best sales people had could have been gained by just remembering common sense lessons from their grandma! As we know from experience, what seems like common sense is seldom common practice.
Can you guess what those lessons were?
OK, I'm not going to make you guess, I include them for you below...
#1 Manners Don't Cost Anything
How difficult is it for you to give potential customers a pleasant welcome, and always say please and thank you?
Thing is, a little politeness does go a LONG way.
We might not look like a Donald Trump style high roller, but a customer is a customer, and they deserve to be treated well.
The fact is, even if the person in front of you does not end up buying today, you really don't know who they are, who they are going to talk to, and if how you treat them will impact future sales. A smile and a welcome can brighten your customer’s day and help make them feel valued.
So be polite, and smile. It won't cost you anything, and might just pay dividends later.
#2 Share Your Toys
Generosity is just good business, as well as a part of being a good person. I have found the more I am helpful and generous, the more people want to help me in return. It's the law of reciprocation, where the more you give, the more you get.
Be generous with your information and resources if sharing them will help your customer. Don't overlook ways in which you can even work with competitors to get the job done.
What is the reputation or impression you want to give to customers? Go the extra mile to give them the best possible customer experience.
Not only that, more and more we are becoming dependant on building strong networks. What kind of person would you most like to network with?
And if you are part of a team? Be the best member of that team you can be.
You know from being a customer yourself that you want to feel like you have been given the BEST solution. Those are the experiences you share with friends.
#3 Two Ears, One Mouth
To really help people, first you have to listen to what their problem is. Common sense, right?
As Grandma says, you were given two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.
I have found the person who understands the customers issues the best usually delivers the best results. Take time to really understand, to dig deeper.
Get to know the WHY behind the WHAT.
A lot of times I have clients come to me asking me to advise them on driving more traffic to their website. If I just sold them a solution there and then I would be doing a disservice. When I take the time to ask, I often find out they actually want to generate more sales leads.
On the surface you see symptoms but when you dig deeper you see the real cause.
Customers want to be listened to. They want to see you really heard them. They want the best solution based on their real needs and situations.
#4 If a Job is Worth Doing, Do it Right
You want happy, long-term, loyal customers, right?
We KNOW it is super-important to make sure the customer goes away not merely satisfied but as close to elated as we can manage. That's how you get loyal customers and that is how you generate positive word of mouth.
In the world of social media you have few tools to sway public opinion so built a positive reputation based on doing good work.
Maximise positive customer experience in the first place, and if you make the occasional mistake then quickly apologise and put things right.
Reputation is your biggest asset and could be a big competitive advantage.
Providing a great service has a lot to do with treating people as you would like to be treated. Your brand is built off positive experiences, and reputation travels at light speed through today's social networks.
When was the last time you had a great customer experience? Which tips have I missed? Please share in the comments...
Chris Garrett is VP of Educational Content for Copyblogger Media and the founder of Authority Blogger.